The week didn’t start well for the Habs but it ended on a better note with a pair of strong wins against Tampa Bay and Vancouver. As for Laval, their week went the opposite way – two straight losses to kick things off before picking up a victory at the end.
Jonathan Drouin: It was nice to see Marc Bergevin acknowledge that Drouin isn’t a perfect fit down the middle. Considering how largely ineffective he seems to be becoming at the offensive end, I wonder if it’s time to try putting him back on the wing to see if that sparks him. I know that from a development standpoint and the fact the Habs are well out of a playoff spot, it makes sense to keep him at centre but they can always go back to that if (or more likely, when) they completely fall out of the race. In the meantime, he can’t really be much less productive than he currently is if they put him back on the wing.
Jakub Jerabek: I understand that he’s still making some weak plays in his own end but he has been getting better lately. The next step should be some power play time. He’s averaging just 11 seconds a night with the man advantage. Considering that he was a top point-getter on the back end in the KHL, we know there’s some offensive skill there. David Schlemko (1:19/game) isn’t a power play threat so why not try the youngster there instead?
Artturi Lehkonen: I was hoping that his time off would have also snapped the early-season funk he was in. That hasn’t happened. He isn’t even getting the shots and scoring chances that he was bringing on a regular basis last season. I wonder if it may be time to give him a night off, especially to get Daniel Carr back in (who shouldn’t be getting scratched) the lineup.
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Goals: Brendan Gallagher (16)
Assists: Phillip Danault (15)
Points: Galchenyuk/Gallagher/Pacioretty (23)
+/-: Nicolas Deslauriers (+9)
PIMS: Andrew Shaw (47)
Shots: Max Pacioretty (165)
After finishing off 2017 strong, the Rocket weren’t able to carry the momentum into 2018 as they dropped their first two games before salvaging a win on the road to end their week.
News and Notes:
– Jeremy Gregoire missed all three games with his lower-body injury. At the beginning of the week, Sylvain Lefebvre would only rule him out for those three contests so perhaps he won’t be out too much longer.
– Laval has not fared well against the team they’re chasing for the final playoff spot in the North Division. After the Rocket won the first matchup, the Comets have reeled off three straight victories. The two teams are tied in the standings in points with 37 but Utica has three games in hand. Needless to say, these head-to-heads have been the difference so far.
– Daniel Audette’s goal against the Marlies was his first point in just over a month.
– Lines from last game:
Terry – Cracknell – Scherbak
Veilleux – McCarron – Baun
Petti – Audette – Waked
Boucher – Eisenschmid – Broll
Gelinas – Taormina
Parisi – Juulsen
Bourque – Lernout
Goals: Chris Terry (18)
Assists: Matt Taormina (27)
Points: Chris Terry (40)
+/-: Gregoire/Jerabek (+10)
PIMS: Michael McCarron (51)
Shots: Chris Terry (122)
January 10: Utica vs Laval
January 12: Hartford Laval
January 13: Wilkes-Barre/Scranton vs Laval
With the World Juniors now over, here is a quick report card for how each of the three Montreal prospects fared.
Joni Ikonen: C: I was hoping that this tournament may have sparked him a bit after a pretty quiet season in the SM-liiga. That never really happened despite the fact that he got a lot of ice time. He’ll still be eligible to play again next year and he should be primed for a better showing than he had in Buffalo.
Victor Mete: B+: He certainly got plenty of ice time and was a key piece of Canada’s back end as one of their shutdown defenders. I was hoping he’d have made a bit more of an impact in the offensive end though, especially considering how potent the Canadian lineup was. If he couldn’t even make much of an impact at that end there, it’s hard to hold out much hope for him being too productive in the NHL anytime soon. All in all though, Mete had a strong tournament.
Ryan Poehling: B: He may have been listed as the number one centre but he wasn’t on the line that was expected to lead the way offensively. Instead, he was a key player at the defensive end while still chipping in a bit offensively as well. He was a key player for the Americans in this tourney and next year, he should have the chance to shoulder a bigger chunk of the scoring workload.