The Habs were flying high offensively but as a result of some shaky play from the defence and goaltending, they were only able to come away with five of a possible eight points.
The Week That Was
Nov. 5: Canadiens 4, Islanders 3 (SO) – The week didn’t get off to a great start as the Islanders had three goals on Antti Niemi before the game was 15 minutes old. However, Montreal clawed their way back into it with Noah Juulsen scoring his first of the season to tie the game before Niemi shut the door in the shootout.
Nov. 6: Rangers 5, Canadiens 3 – This time, it was Montreal’s time to get out to the lead as they were up 3-1 with three minutes left in the second period before it all went downhill. The Rangers scored before the period ended and tied it up close to the midway mark of the third. Instead of going to overtime though, Neal Pionk went end-to-end to give New York the late lead and then the Habs allowed a shorthanded goal with under two minutes left to put an end to any comeback hopes.
Nov. 8: Sabres 6, Canadiens 5 (OT) – This was a back-and-forth that saw Montreal counterpunch Buffalo on several occasions after the Sabres scored. The Habs only held the lead once after Nicolas Deslauriers scored shorthanded against his former team late in the second period. Buffalo tied it in the third and then Rasmus Ristolainen blasted a shot past Carey Price in overtime that he’d certainly love to have back.
Nov. 10: Canadiens 5, Golden Knights 4 – The Habs had a terrible start to this one as Niemi was thrown to the wolves early on. Montreal scored three times in the second to get the lead before surrendering it early in the third when Matthew Peca put one in his own net. However, Vegas wound up scoring on their own end as well, a goal that was credited to former Golden Knight Tomas Tatar and stood as the game-winner.
Shootout – Skaters:
Shootout – Goalies:
Goals: Domi/Gallagher (9)
Assists: Domi/Petry (12)
Points: Max Domi (21)
+/-: Juulsen/Mete (+4)
PIMS: Andrew Shaw (18)
Shots: Brendan Gallagher (57)
News And Notes
– Joel Armia was starting to settle in on Montreal’s third line but he’ll be out of the lineup for a while after suffering a knee injury against the Rangers. He’s expected to miss six-to-eight weeks. Kenny Agostino was recalled from Laval to take his place on the roster.
– David Schlemko was activated off injured reserve in time to play on Saturday night. With Paul Byron also being transferred to IR, Montreal didn’t need to make a corresponding roster move to make room. For the time being, they’re carrying eight defencemen.
– Every forward recorded at least a point this week, as did every defenceman who played in all four games. Considering how Montreal has been a lower-scoring team in recent years, it likely has been a while since this has been the case.
Last Game’s Lines:
Tatar – Danault – Gallagher
Drouin – Domi – Shaw
Agostino – Kotkaniemi – Lehkonen
Deslauriers – Peca – Hudon
Benn – Petry
Reilly – Alzner
Schlemko – Mete
The Week Ahead
Nov. 13: at Edmonton – After a rough start to their season, the Oilers have turned their season around despite having next to no secondary scoring. Connor McDavid, Leon Draisaitl, and Ryan Nugent-Hopkins are all off to very strong starts (they’re all over a point per game) but aren’t getting consistent contributions offensively from anyone else. Carey Price’s save percentage against Edmonton is the lowest against any team at .859 so this may not be the game to put him back in to get him going again.
Nov. 15: at Calgary – Montreal’s season series against them will come to an end early after the two sides faced off at the Bell Centre last month. The new-look Flames are staring down a goalie controversy with David Rittich playing extremely well early on while Mike Smith has struggled considerably. James Neal (three goals) hasn’t fared well this season but despite that, Calgary sits in the top-ten in goals scored.
Nov. 17: at Vancouver – The Canucks are the only team that boasts a rookie centre that’s getting more hype than Jesperi Kotkaniemi. Elias Pettersson is off to a blistering start and is among the league leaders in points per game. Montreal likely won’t have to contend with Brock Boeser though as he is week-to-week with a groin issue.
Maybe it’s just me but the timing surrounding the sudden departure of Tomas Plekanec makes little sense. Joel Armia’s out long-term and Paul Byron appears to be coming back later rather than sooner. Those are two reliable options on the penalty kill. Of all the times to say ‘we don’t need you any more’, this was not it. Quite frankly, there’s a case to be made that a healthy Plekanec should have been getting back in the lineup with Matthew Peca shifting to the wing. Kenny Agostino isn’t a long-term solution and Nikita Scherbak’s AHL stint suggests that he’s not going to make much of an impact in the short-term (and then he got hurt after the announcement was made).
What was the harm in putting Plekanec back in for a few games while Byron works his way back to full health? All they had to do was send Agostino down to open the roster spot. I know Plekanec isn’t a speedster but it’s not as if Nicolas Deslauriers can fly out there either and they’re going out of their way to play him. Montreal’s struggling at the faceoff dot and their play in their own lately hasn’t been any good. Plekanec wouldn’t have solved these issues but I find it hard to believe he couldn’t have helped. I find it harder to understand why he wasn’t given the chance. Full credit to Plekanec for agreeing to go away quietly and being the consummate team player but while his departure was inevitable at some point this season (or at its conclusion), I think it was too early.