The Habs fared quite well in their pair of back-to-back sets, taking three of four games before coming up short to end the week.
The Week That Was
Jan. 14: Canadiens 3, Bruins 2 (OT) – This resembled Montreal games of previous years where the key to victory was the goaltender standing on his head. This was one of those nights as despite being outshot 43-22 after 60 minutes, the game was tied thanks to a strong night from Carey Price (even though the Bruins tied it up in the dying seconds of regulation). However, Jeff Petry scored a highlight reel goal as he knocked the puck out of midair past Tuukka Rask early in the extra frame.
Jan. 15: Canadiens 5, Panthers 1 – Feeling 43 shots wasn’t enough of a test for their netminder, the Habs allowed a whopping 53 shots on Antti Niemi. Fortunately, he was up to the task and had his best game of the season while the offence woke up in the second period, scoring three times to give Montreal enough of a cushion that they could sit on the lead in the third.
Jan. 18: Canadiens 4, Blue Jackets 1 – While Montreal was outplayed once again in this one, it wasn’t by anywhere near as much of a significant margin as they were a fair bit better than they were earlier in the week. Tomas Tatar snapped a 10-game goalless drought with a pair of goals in the first while Joel Armia added a pair of empty-netters (only one of which was actually designed a true ENG).
Jan. 19: Flyers 5, Canadiens 2 – This was the best-played game of the week for the Canadiens so considering they won some they shouldn’t have, it seems fitting that they lost this one. The Habs got off to a terrific start but couldn’t beat Carter Hart early and as the game progressed, Philadelphia got better and Montreal looked more and more fatigued.
Goals: Brendan Gallagher (19)
Assists: Max Domi (28)
Points: Max Domi (44)
+/-: Phillip Danault (+14)
PIMS: Max Domi (59)
Shots: Brendan Gallagher (177)
News And Notes
– Paul Byron received a three-game suspension for his charging incident against Florida defenceman MacKenzie Weegar. It’s the first time the winger has been suspended in his career. Byron will be eligible to return following Montreal’s bye week.
– With his four points this past week, Tomas Tatar has already surpassed his production from last season and is up to 37 points in 50 games. His 0.74 points per game average is the highest of his career.
– Early in the season, it looked as if Mike Reilly was going to give Montreal a boost in terms of production from their back end. Unfortunately, he has tailed off completely in that regard. Over his last 24 games, he has just two assists which is interesting considering he’s playing with Jeff Petry, who leads the team in points by a blueliner.
Last Game’s Lines:
Drouin – Danault – Gallagher
Lehkonen – Domi – Tatar
Hudon – Kotkaniemi – Armia
Agostino – Chaput – Deslauriers
Mete – Weber
Reilly – Petry
Kulak – Benn
The Week Ahead
Jan. 23: vs Arizona – The final game of January is one against a Coyotes team that is riddled with injuries but has improved their performance considerably as of late, winning four of their last six games. Former Hab Alex Galchenyuk has picked up his play lately, averaging a point per game over the past month. In the ‘things you’d have never guessed’ category, Brad Richardson leads the team in goals so far. For perspective on that, he had three goals in 76 games with Arizona last season.
Jonathan Drouin’s season is hard for me to get a read on. From a points perspective, he’s on pace for a new career high and considering that this is a team that needs scoring by committee, that’s a good thing, right? However, from the eye test perspective, there are a lot of nights where he is invisible at best and at worst, making some very poor decisions with the puck on his stick. Lately, there have been a few too many of those nights which got him separated from Max Domi. He responded with a couple of good games but has gone in the wrong direction since then.
It’s going to be really interesting to see how he fares over these final 32 games. We’re seeing a Montreal squad that’s basically punching above its weight class with most of the team playing aggressively on a constant basis. Drouin is one of the ones whose effort level and attention seem to wane from night to night. If he plays to his capability, the Habs will be in great shape down the stretch. If not, I wonder if it’s fair to question his long-term future with the team. The Canadiens are a team that needs everyone pulling in the same direction, to use a tired cliche. Drouin is one of the few that doesn’t do so on a regular basis so if he doesn’t show a willingness (or the capability) to do so, will Marc Bergevin deem him the next significant roster casualty? The next few months may very well tell the tale.
With Montreal playing just one game this coming week, there won’t be a Habs Weekly next week. It will return following the back-to-back set in early February.