While the Habs ended last week on a high note, the positive vibes ended there as they failed to pick up a win in three home games while picking up just a single point in the standings. Things weren’t any better in Laval either as the Rocket suffered the same fate.
Byron Froese: It’s hard to be too critical considering it’s the fourth line that is playing the best lately but it’s a bit surprising to see him in what appears to be a must-play role. Froese doesn’t really excel in any particular area of the ice nor does he have any standout skills. He’s a nice depth option to have but they can certainly improve on that roster spot as well.
Alex Galchenyuk: Lost in the complaints about his benching is that the coaching staff did exactly what a lot of fans have wanted to see after. Instead of languishing on the fourth line, he actually got promoted to play alongside Jonathan Drouin. Some are saying they need to employ a different tactic with him but it seems to me that they did that here.
Shea Weber: I know he’s a very capable defensive player but is it really ideal to be deploying him in a shutdown role with Jordie Benn? Weber is Montreal’s top offensive threat from the back end and considering the scoring issues are creeping up again, it might be beneficial to try putting him back with a puck-mover and in more offensive-oriented situations. I will note that it’s nice to see Claude Julien making a concerted effort to keep his minutes down which should pay dividends as the season progresses.
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Goals: Brendan Gallagher (13)
Assists: Danault/Drouin (12)
Points: Brendan Gallagher (19)
+/-: Deslauriers/Schlemko (+7)
PIMS: Andrew Shaw (39)
Shots: Max Pacioretty (124)
Laval is starting to resemble the Habs when it comes to over-reliance on their goaltending. No matter how good your goalie is, it’s hard to win when you can barely muster a goal per game of offence. Many say it takes three or more goals to win a game and the Rocket have done that just twice since November 12th, a span of 13 games. Not surprisingly, those are the only two victories they have over that stretch.
News and Notes:
- Zach Fucale was recalled from Brampton. He dressed as the backup once and was a healthy scratch the other two which calls into question why he was actually brought back in the first place.
- Michael McCarron missed all three games as he recovers from emergency surgery behind his ear sustained on the last road trip but there’s a chance he’ll be ready to go on Saturday, their next game.
- The Habs have sent Nikita Scherbak back to Laval. They wouldn’t have been able to do so without activating him off injured reserve so presumably he also should have a chance at playing on Saturday.
- Lines from last game:
Gregoire – Cracknell – Terry
Eisenschmid – Petti – Baun
Boucher – Audette – Waked
Veilleux – Ebbing
Taormina – Lernout
Parisi – Juulsen
Gelinas – Leblanc
Goals: Chris Terry (13)
Assists: Matt Taormina (21)
Points: Taormina/Terry (23)
+/-: Jeremy Gregoire (+11)
PIMS: Yannick Veilleux (46)
Shots: Chris Terry (78)
December 16: Laval vs Charlotte
December 17: Laval vs Charlotte
There’s no denying that Carey Price had an off-night against Edmonton. Honestly, that’s probably underselling it somewhat. The worst thing is, this was avoidable. Logically, giving a goaltender eight straight starts coming off an injury that took longer to recover from than expected is not smart, no matter who the goalie is.
Charlie Lindgren demonstrated during his stint as Price’s replacement that he is capable of coming up and spot-starting when necessary. Heck, even Antti Niemi has looked alright in his appearances so far. There are options at Claude Julien’s disposal to avoid this type of thing from happening.
Yes, the Habs are already in tough in the standings so I understand why Price played all of these games but this is short-term thinking. A tired Price isn’t going to help anyone, unless you’re the opponent getting him on that night. The days of playing a starter upwards of 70 times are gone and coaches are learning to trust their backup. It’s time for Julien to do the same, especially when he has multiple options to use.