The Habs made their 2018-19 home debut this past week and although they put forth a pair of strong performances against two quality opponents, they were only able to come out of it with a split.
The Week That Was
Oct. 11: LA 3, MTL 0 – The Bell Centre was fired up for the home opener, especially after a ceremony to honour the 1992-93 Stanley Cup winning team. Unfortunately for the current squad, the Kings struck early and Montreal faced the good version of Jack Campbell (the bad version showed up two days later in Ottawa). Despite putting 40 shots on goal, the Habs couldn’t get one past Campbell (aside from a goal negated by Andrew Shaw for goalie interference) and the netminder picked up his first career shutout.
Oct. 13: MTL 4, PIT 3 (SO) – Just like the last game, it wasn’t a good start for the Habs who were down 2-0 after the opening frame. Unlike their previous outing, however, they were able to get going offensively as Tomas Tatar picked up a pair of goals in a three-goal second period which got them back into it. Shaw had another goalie interference moment that took a goal off the board but the Canadiens were able to prevail in a shootout with Antti Niemi picking up the victory against the team that cut him loose last season.
Goals: Byron/Gallagher/Tatar (2)
Assists: Jeff Petry (4)
Points: Byron/Petry/Tatar (4)
+/-: Gallagher/Juulsen/Tatar (+3)
PIMS: Andrew Shaw (10)
Shots: Tomas Tatar (14)
News And Notes
– Jeff Petry will wear the third ‘A’ at home, meaning that he and Artturi Lehkonen are splitting the duties of what basically amounts to the ‘alternate alternate’ captain.
– Jacob de la Rose remains on injured reserve but practiced with the team all week so they are soon going to have clear someone off the roster to make room for him. Meanwhile, Nicolas Deslauriers is believed to be less than two weeks away from returning as well.
– With Price sidelined with the flu on Saturday, Charlie Lindgren was brought up from Laval to dress as Niemi’s backup. He has already been sent back down.
The Week Ahead
Oct. 15: DET vs MTL – After a rough couple of weeks to start the season in terms of opponents, the Habs get to face a weaker team in the Red Wings. To say Detroit has been brutally decimated by injuries on their back end would be an understatement. In their 8-2 drubbing at the hands of Boston on Saturday, the Wings were down no fewer than four blueliners (and Danny DeKeyser, their one regular rearguard that has played every game, left with an injury). Not surprisingly, Detroit leads the league in goals allowed and are still looking for their first win of the season.
Oct. 17: STL vs MTL – St. Louis was rather busy over the offseason and they changed their forward group considerably. Not surprisingly, the new-look lineup has had its ups and downs throughout the early going as their offence hasn’t really taken off just yet. Former Hab Jakub Jerabek made his Blues debut last week and with the way it went, it may be a while before he sees the ice again.
Oct. 20: MTL vs OTT – The Sens are a team that pretty much everyone expects to see at the bottom of the standings but they have gotten off to a decent start of their own, collecting five points in as many games. Their style of play has resembled Montreal’s new strategy to emphasize attacking with speed so it will be intriguing to see how both teams fare when trying to pretty much play the same way.
While four games aren’t enough to be significant, I must say that I’m a bit surprised at the demotion of Charles Hudon to the point where he has the lowest ice time of anyone in the early going this season. I know he isn’t the greatest defensive player but he isn’t a huge liability in his own end. I know he doesn’t have the greatest raw offensive talent but he has a knack for getting the puck to the net. To see him playing just 8:28 per night (a drop of 5:34 in ATOI from last year) just doesn’t seem right. I get that there are more talented options ahead of him on the left side but it shouldn’t be overly difficult to find a way to get Hudon at least a little more ice time. The strength of this roster is its depth but reducing him to playing time at a level comparable to the likes of Andreas Martinsen or Michael Blunden doesn’t feel like the best usage of that depth.
Given his current status which appears to be a bubble player at best, I have to sit and wonder if he could ultimately be a roster casualty over the next couple of weeks. If Hudon is a fringe player on the roster, would they be better off looking to move him rather than eroding his value by playing him eight minutes a night? It’s not the route I’d take but the longer his ice time is like this, the more I think it could be a realistic possibility. That’s quite a fall for someone that quite frankly, really didn’t do anything to deserve it.