Following a sour end to their previous week in Ottawa, the Habs got back to their winning ways this past week despite another small blip on the radar in Buffalo.
The Week That Was
Oct. 23: MTL 3, CGY 2 – David Rittich was a surprise starter for the Flames but he certainly played well. He managed to keep the Habs at bay for the first 35 minutes of the game before Montreal’s inconsistent power play came to life, scoring twice in a minute and a half. Jonathan Drouin added a goal in the final minute of the second and the Canadiens held on throughout the third to secure the win.
Oct. 25: BUF 4, MTL 3 – Max Domi had a pair of goals and Montreal had three separate one-goal leads but it wasn’t enough. Joel Armia took a somewhat-questionable tripping penalty with under two minutes to go in regulation and the Sabres took advantage to spoil a pretty good outing from backup goalie Antti Niemi.
Oct. 27: MTL 3, BOS 0 – This will not be remembered as a classic between the two rivals, that’s for sure. Montreal picked up a pair of first period goals from Brendan Gallagher and Domi and a solid effort from Carey Price was enough to beat the Bruins. Price picked up his 290th career regular season victory, moving into sole possession of second in franchise victories.
Goals: Max Domi (5)
Assists: Jeff Petry (8)
Points: Max Domi (11)
+/-: Noah Juulsen (+9)
PIMS: Andrew Shaw (16)
Shots: Brendan Gallagher (34)
News And Notes
– Noah Juulsen suffered a minor upper-body injury against Buffalo on Thursday and did not suit up against the Bruins. There’s a good chance he’ll be available for their next game on Tuesday which will likely send Karl Alzner (who played his off-side on Saturday) back to the press box.
– Victor Mete played just 13:52 against the Bruins, his lowest ice time in a full game (excluding the one he was injured in to end his 2017-18 campaign) since February. Now that he’s eligible to be sent to Laval, that option may start to look more and more realistic if his ice time continues to dip much further.
– Xavier Ouellet collected an assist in all three games. It’s the first time in his NHL career that he has collected a point in three straight contests.
Last Game’s Lines:
Tatar – Danault – Gallagher
Drouin – Domi – Lehkonen
Byron – Kotkaniemi – Armia
Hudon – Peca – Deslauriers
Benn – Petry
Reilly – Alzner
Ouellet – Mete
The Week Ahead
Oct. 30: DAL vs MTL – Despite the firepower the Stars have, they’ve gotten off to a middling start to their season. Despite missing the last four games due to injury, Alexander Radulov sits third on the team in scoring; his availability for this game is in question. Dallas has one of the top power play units in the West and considering Montreal’s issues on the penalty kill, they’d be wise to stay out of the penalty box.
Nov. 2: WSH vs MTL – As the calendar flips, the Habs get their first look at the defending Stanley Cup Champions who boast the second-best attack in the league in terms of goals per game. However, they also allow 3.6 goals per night and have coughed up six or more three times already. They also happen to possess the best power play in the league. Montreal’s coaching staff may want to make sure that a certain number eight is covered in his ‘office’.
Nov. 4: TB vs MTL – Montreal’s rough week at home ends with a look at the Lightning who sit one point ahead of them for second in the Atlantic despite getting just one goal from Steven Stamkos. Top defenceman Victor Hedman’s availability for this one is in question after he suffered a head injury last week. On the special teams front, the Lightning have only allowed two power play goals (and have scored twice shorthanded) so the Habs may be in tough with the man advantage in this one.
I understand that Claude Julien would want to give Nicolas Deslauriers a chance to reclaim a spot in the lineup. Let’s face it, he was one of the few bright spots the team had last year. That said, how much longer does he need to see the obvious? On a team that has geared itself towards being as fast as possible, Deslauriers’ complete lack of speed stands out and not in a good way. With Matthew Peca and Charles Hudon on that line, having a slow player that’s really good at hitting people is not the complementary piece they need. It’s not as if he’s a high-end penalty killer either where his presence would be more justifiable. Instead, they need someone with some skill. It just so happens to turn out that they have a player just like that sitting in the press box in Nikita Scherbak. Deslauriers can’t keep up. Andrew Shaw can’t stay out of the penalty box. What more does Julien and the rest of his staff need to see before giving Scherbak a chance? If they don’t deem that Scherbak is worthy of a spot in this situation, then why are they keeping him around? If they don’t think he’s good enough to play over a mediocre grinder, then maybe it’s time to cut bait before his value erodes even further.