The Habs came off their Western Canada road trip on a high note and were hoping to carry that over to this past week. Suffice it to say, that didn’t happen.
The Week That Was
Nov. 20: Capitals 5, Canadiens 4 (OT) – Montreal quickly erased their first period deficit with a trio of goals before the two minute mark of the second, ending Pheonix Copley’s night in the process. Unfortunately, Braden Holtby shut Montreal down the rest of the way and Washington tied the game early in the third. Former Hab Lars Eller got some revenge on his old team with the overtime winner on a goal that Carey Price would love to have back.
Nov. 22: Devils 5, Canadiens 2 – There haven’t been nights where the Habs looked completely out of it this season but this was one of those. Price faced a barrage of high-end chances while the defence corps looked overmatched on even the simplest of plays. Max Domi scored late to push his point streak to 11 games but that was pretty much the only positive.
Nov. 24: Sabres 3, Canadiens 2 (OT) – Quite a few lineup changes were made for this one and they panned out for the most part. Antti Niemi was far from technically sound but still had a strong game while the power play actually scored a critical goal to give the Habs the lead in the third. However, Jeff Skinner (who was basically gifted to Buffalo this summer) scored late in regulation and added the overtime winner on the man advantage to keep the losing streak going.
Nov. 25: Bruins 3, Canadiens 2 – Montreal didn’t get off to the best of starts and were down 2-0 quickly but they got better as the game went on. Jonathan Drouin and Tomas Tatar scored in the third to tie it up but Drouin wound up costing them the final goal as an unnecessary four-minute penalty late gave Boston the power play and they were able to capitalize on it.
Goals: Max Domi (11)
Assists: Domi/Petry (15)
Points: Max Domi (26)
+/-: Victor Mete (+7)
PIMS: Max Domi (25)
Shots: Brendan Gallagher (81)
News And Notes
– If all goes as planned, the Habs should get some help on the injury front next week. The team is hopeful that Shea Weber will be available to play next game while Paul Byron could be available next weekend. For either player to come off injured reserve, a roster move to free up a spot will need to be made.
– Noah Juulsen was placed on injured reserve with a facial fracture and there is no timeline for his return to the lineup. Brett Kulak was called up later in the week and it’s notable that he was immediately inserted into the lineup over regulars like Mike Reilly and Xavier Ouellet.
– Michael Chaput was also brought up from Laval and was immediately inserted into a fourth line role.
– While it’s hard to believe, Artturi Lehkonen is actually scoring at the same pace as last season as he has just two through 24 games. However, he has picked up quite a few more assists along the way with nine (compared to four at the same time last year).
Last Game’s Lines:
Tatar – Danault – Gallagher
Drouin – Domi – Shaw
Hudon – Kotkaniemi – Lehkonen
Deslauriers – Peca – Agostino
Benn – Petry
Kulak – Schlemko
Alzner – Mete
The Week Ahead
Nov. 27: vs Carolina – While there is a lot of anticipation for this one with Weber’s expected return, the Hurricanes have been an intriguing team so far. They lead the NHL in shots on goal by a significant margin so expect Carey Price to be peppered. However, they’re tied for last in the East in goals scored. This will also be a battle between two of the top three picks back in June as Jesperi Kotkaniemi (3-9-12) faces off against Andrei Svechnikov (5-6-11).
Dec. 1: vs NY Rangers – New York was planning to be in the midst of a painful rebuild this season but someone forgot to tell the players that. They sit just one point behind Montreal for the final Wild Card spot in the East. Henrik Lundqvist has put up his best numbers since 2015-16 while Chris Kreider is playing at a 40-goal pace to lead the way offensively.
While the decision of who to send down once Weber returns is looming, the Habs have another call to make in advance of Tuesday. Kenny Agostino has played in nine games since being recalled and the tenth will result in him having to clear waivers to get back to Laval. While he was a safe bet to make it through in training camp when there were dozens of others on the wire, it may not be quite as easy to get him through now, especially since he has fared relatively well since joining the team.
Sending him down now would enable the Habs to keep him in the fold but they’d basically be burying him in the minors for the rest of the season as his next game played on a regular recall would trigger the waiver requirement. Considering that Claude Julien continues to deploy him on the power play and ahead of players like Charles Hudon and Matthew Peca, it’s hard to imagine that they’ll send Agostino back just yet. He’s earned a longer look which is great news for him and terrible news for Laval as they’ll likely be without their top scoring threat for a while yet.