Montreal’s road and Western Conference struggles collided this week with predictable results as they dropped all three of their games. Meanwhile, Laval managed to pick up a victory over their three contests but continue to have issues keeping the puck out of their own net.
Joe Morrow: Count me among those who think Morrow is playing way too much. He has somehow gone from being a frequent healthy scratch to playing the second-most ice time on the back end which isn’t right. Unless they’re trying him in different situations to see if he’s worth keeping around beyond this season (and I think that’s a possibility), it’s time to start scaling things back while sending out a search party for Jakub Jerabek whose continued absence is quite puzzling.
Carey Price: What is going on with Price? There are moments where he looks like he’s focused and others where you wonder if his head is in the clouds. I’m not going to sit here and accuse him of dogging it because that wouldn’t be fair but his poor performance is more than a little concerning with his new contract kicking in next year.
Nikita Scherbak: He’s looking more and more confident by the game and looks leaps and bounds better than he did in his first NHL stint last season. It’d be nice to see him shoot more but that was a concern at times in Laval as well and when his linemates are Drouin and Galchenyuk, it’s understandable that he’d be inclined to defer. With so few waiver-exempt players on the roster, he’s a candidate to be sent down to activate one of the forwards nearing a return but here’s hoping they find a way to keep him up as he is playing well enough to stay in the lineup.
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Goals: Brendan Gallagher (21)
Assists: Alex Galchenyuk (22)
Points: Max Pacioretty (35)
+/-: Nicolas Deslauriers (+9)
PIMS: Andrew Shaw (47)
Shots: Max Pacioretty (200)
For the second straight week, the Rocket got off to a good start with a win but they weren’t able to build off that as they dropped a pair to end the week.
News and Notes:
– Zach Fucale’s nomadic season continues as he has been returned to Brampton of the ECHL. He recorded a victory in his first game back with the Beast on Saturday. Also going to Brampton are defenceman Matt Petgrave and winger Chris Leveille, who were released from their PTO deals.
– Antoine Waked recorded a point in all three games. This snaps a three-month pointless drought.
– Michael McCarron’s goal on Saturday gave him seven to match his total from last season. Unfortunately, it took ten more games for him to reach that total than it did in 2016-17.
– Lines from last game:
Audette – Cracknell – Boucher
Waked – McCarron – Eisenschmid
Baun – Ebbing – Gregoire
Leveille – Blain – Broll
Gelinas – Juulsen
Parisi – Lernout
Bourque – Leblanc
Goals: Cracknell/Terry (20)
Assists: Matt Taormina (36)
Points: Chris Terry (43)
+/-: Jakub Jerabek (+10)
PIMS: Michael McCarron (82)
Shots: Chris Terry (142)
February 23: Laval vs Utica
February 24: Laval vs Belleville
For those of you holding out hope that the Habs would give Alex Galchenyuk another look at centre, this past week should all but quash the remaining hope. With Paul Byron struggling, Claude Julien opted to make a change but instead of trying Galchenyuk, Charles Hudon, whose professional experience down the middle in terms of games can be counted on two hands (minus thumbs), got the nod instead. If that isn’t a telling sign that Julien doesn’t want to play Galchenyuk at centre, I don’t know what is.
With Andrew Shaw rejoining the team on Sunday and Phillip Danault nearing a return as well, the Habs will actually have some options down the middle for the first time in a while. That should be the end of wingers playing out of position and with it, the end of the opportunity for Galchenyuk to change positions. Even if Tomas Plekanec is dealt at the trade deadline, the safer bet at this time is that Shaw will simply slide over and they don’t appear to be willing to move Jonathan Drouin back to the wing either. Many have (rightfully) given up hope on the season but it’s time to give up the hope on Galchenyuk moving back to centre. It just doesn’t look like it’s going to be happening.