The Habs had some good performances mixed in with some ugly ones this past week as they continue to play out the stretch. In Laval, it was mostly the latter as the nightmarish second half of their season continues.
Jonathan Drouin: Although the games are meaningless at this point, I’ll give Drouin credit as he played his best hockey that we’ve seen in quite a while. I’m not about to call it a sign that he’s starting to really learn how to play centre but it would be nice to see him end his season on a high note.
Charles Hudon: His shot is best utilized when he’s in scoring lanes but lately, he seems to be content with just trying to throw the puck on the net. Part of that is coaching but while I’m usually not one to suggest players shoot less, I think he’d be better served by being a little more selective instead of just firing it on the net for the sake of firing it on the net.
Charlie Lindgren: Although the end result wasn’t pretty, he needed that game against the Leafs. His last few outings heading into that one hadn’t been great and with Carey Price getting closer to returning, he isn’t going to have too many more chances to see NHL action this season. He has a shot at ending things on a high note with that performance against Toronto.
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Goals: Brendan Gallagher (26)
Assists: Alex Galchenyuk (28)
Points: Gallagher/Galchenyuk (44)
+/-: Nicolas Deslauriers (+6)
PIMS: Andrew Shaw (53)
Shots: Brendan Gallagher (241)
The road wasn’t kind to Laval (or what’s left of them, which isn’t much). They managed to pick up a win over their four games but they were outclassed in their other contests. If you think the stretch run will be dull in Montreal, it will be even worse for the Rocket.
News and Notes:
– The emergency tryouts continued with defencemen Rob Hamilton and Matt Petgrave (for a third time) signing as well as winger Gabriel Desjardins while blueliner Etienne Boutet was released. Following Saturday’s loss, Desjardins along with forward Luc-Olivier Blain and defenceman Willie Corrin were all released. This suggests that Stefan Leblanc, Daniel Audette, and one other forward (perhaps Jeremiah Addison) are all ready to return.
– Winger Antoine Waked suffered a concussion and is out indefinitely. Between that and Michael McCarron’s recall, Laval had just five forwards under contract to the Canadiens in the lineup for their games this past weekend.
– Despite missing 14 games due to injury, winger Chris Terry sits second in AHL scoring with 60 points in 51 games. He is four points behind Lehigh Valley centre Phil Varone.
– Lines from last game:
Rychel – Cracknell – Terry
Boucher – Petti – Eisenschmid
Broll – Ebbing – Gregoire
Veilleux – Blain – Desjardins
Parisi – Taormina
Bourque – Gelinas
Hamilton – Petgrave
Goals: Chris Terry (27)
Assists: Matt Taormina (40)
Points: Chris Terry (60)
+/-: Rinat Valiev (+14)
PIMS: Michael McCarron (109)
Shots: Chris Terry (177)
March 23: Charlotte vs Laval
March 24: Charlotte vs Laval
March 25: Laval vs Belleville
With the news that Carey Price is hoping to return this season, many are wondering why given the lack of importance of the remaining games. Even though it likely takes away a few starts from Charlie Lindgren, I’m okay with Price coming back.
This season has not been a good one for Price. Personally, I don’t want his last few games to be the lasting thought for the next six months for him. I’d rather see him end his 2017-18 campaign on a high note (or at least try to) and get him in a better frame of mine heading into the summer.
Price coming back would also give him an opportunity to potentially play at the Worlds. Again, while some may want him to simply rest, I want him to be playing into May. Being on another team in meaningful games, even if it’s just for a couple of weeks, can only help. If the Habs are going to be a playoff team again soon, having their goalie getting reaccustomed to playing deeper into the string can’t be a bad thing.
On the surface, having a top player come back late in the year when the games are meaningless seems a little iffy. I’d certainly agree in the cases of Andrew Shaw and Phillip Danault – neither are top players but both are important parts of the team. When it comes to Price though, it’s the right thing to do.