Although the week ended in an ugly fashion, it was still a pretty successful Western Canadian road trip for the Habs who took two of three games. Laval managed to pick up a win but their penchant for allowing untimely goals and struggling to score consistently continued as they continue to fall in the standings.
Daniel Carr: Saturday’s game was an important one as it was his tenth overall since being recalled which triggers him needing waivers to go back down again. Considering how well he has played so far, I don’t see the Habs wanting to risk that at this point so he should take some comfort knowing he’ll be around for a while yet. I don’t expect Carr to keep up this production much longer (that line as a whole will slow down soon in all likelihood) but he has made quite the impression already.
Alex Galchenyuk: I know he has been invisible for quite a few of his shifts but in spite of that, he’s still being pretty productive. At some point, it might not be a bad idea to play Galchenyuk a bit more than fourth line minutes (the ‘fourth line’ all averaged more ice time than he did last week), especially if they’re still considering trading him (and I suspect they’re open to doing so). He has his deficiencies but if he’s putting points on the board (something the Habs haven’t done with much consistency), that has to count for something.
Charles Hudon: If I were him, I’d be a bit concerned about getting into the lineup over the next little bit. As much as he has played well, the results haven’t been there with any sort of consistency and with the Froese line firing on all cylinders, Hudon may have to wait for one of them to cool off before he gets his next chance.
Goals: Brendan Gallagher (14)
Assists: Phillip Danault (14)
Points: Phillip Danault (21)
+/-: Nicolas Deslauriers (+10)
PIMS: Andrew Shaw (43)
Shots: Max Pacioretty (140)
Things were looking up early on for the Rocket. They won their first game and had a late lead in the second before blowing it and followed up that effort with a losing one on Saturday. All in all, they wound up with three of six points but they should have had more.
News and Notes:
– After dressing as the backup against Syracuse, Laval returned Zach Fucale to Brampton and told Michael McNiven to find a place to live which suggests that he’ll be sticking around for a while. The Canadiens are now believed to be actively trying to trade Fucale.
– Brett Lernout was returned to Laval after Montreal’s loss to Edmonton on the 23rd. Unless Shea Weber is set to return (which isn’t likely), either Lernout or another defenceman will probably be recalled when the roster freeze lifts on Wednesday morning.
– Adam Cracknell has fared a lot better offensive with the Rocket than he did in Hartford. After posting just three points in 15 games with the Rangers’ affiliate, he has already put up four goals and four assists in just ten games with Laval.
– Lines from last game:
Terry – Cracknell – Scherbak
Veilleux – McCarron – Gregoire
Petti – Audette – Waked
Boucher – Eisenschmid – Baun
Gelinas – Taormina
Parisi – Juulsen
Bourque – Leblanc
Goals: Chris Terry (16)
Assists: Matt Taormina (24)
Points: Chris Terry (33)
+/-: Jeremy Gregoire (+11)
PIMS: Yannick Veilleux (50)
Shots: Chris Terry (101)
December 27: Laval vs Rochester
December 28: Laval vs Belleville
December 30: Laval vs Rochester
One of my bigger criticisms when it comes to player development has been the Habs choosing to pull up players from the minors and then put them in less-than-ideal situations. That was on full display once again on Saturday. Brett Lernout is not a speedster or even remotely close to one. He’s not particularly strong against faster teams as he can struggle to keep up and read where the play is going. With that in mind, playing him against a speedy team like Edmonton doesn’t make a lick of sense but that’s what Claude Julien did and to the surprise of no one, he struggled – badly. This was a pretty obvious outcome and is one I think someone on the coaching staff should have realized at some point.
What concerns me now is that his performance will be used against him in future call-up situations. He was sent down following that game but that was more of a procedural move than anything else. Unless Shea Weber’s stocking under the tree magically healed his foot, he’s not going to be ready to go for Wednesday so they’re going to have to bring someone else up (or go with Nicolas Deslauriers as the emergency defender). Despite how poorly he played in a no-win situation, that recall should go to Lernout again. If the Habs want to really evaluate his readiness, it would make a lot more sense to put him in a situation where he might actually have a chance to succeed. This requires two elements – a team that isn’t going to skate circles around most Habs and a defensive partner that knows what they’re doing in their own end. Neither of these were in place against the Oilers.
Marc Bergevin has claimed player development as a reason for keeping the minor league coaching staff intact for the past few years now, a claim that most people can see through pretty easily. If the Habs are going to keep hanging their hat on development though, it might behoove them to actually try putting their prospects in a situation where they can succeed and, you know, develop. Hopefully they’ll get that memo sooner than later.