The Habs opened up their 2020-21 season with a pair of high-scoring efforts although they were unfortunately able to come out with the victory in only one of them.
The Week That Was
Jan. 13: Maple Leafs 5, Canadiens 4 (OT) – The Habs jumped out to a good start, scoring first and adding one in the dying seconds of the opening frame for good measure. They even scored twice on the power play. Things were looking up until the turning point of the game where they took three unnecessary penalties, leading to two power play goals late in the second period. (That was the real turning point, not the Simmonds-Chiarot fight as the narrative seems to be.) Josh Anderson gave them the lead in the third but an unlucky bounce off an official from a Jonathan Drouin clearing attempt led to Toronto tying it up. Both teams had several opportunities in overtime before Morgan Rielly scored just past the three-minute mark.
Jan. 16: Canadiens 5, Oilers 1 – Montreal got off to a bit of a slower start but once they found their skating legs, they started to take control of the game quickly. However, it took a while for that to yield much on the scoreboard as it wasn’t until the second when they were able to beat Mikko Koskinen more than once as Tomas Tatar, Jeff Petry, and Jake Evans all scored in the middle stanza to give the Canadiens some breathing room. Carey Price lost his shutout with seven minutes to go but there certainly weren’t many blemishes in this one.
Goals: Tomas Tatar (3)
Assists: Jonathan Drouin (3)
Points: Jeff Petry (4)
+/-: Joel Edmundson (+4)
PIMS: Ben Chiarot (5)
Shots: Josh Anderson (10)
News And Notes
– The Habs set their initial taxi squad at five players, consisting of Charlie Lindgren, Cale Fleury, Ryan Poehling, Corey Perry, and Michael Frolik. Once Laval’s training camp gets underway, it’s likely that Fleury and Poehling will head for the Rocket to ensure they get some playing time. Right now, it doesn’t matter where the youngsters are as there are no games to be played.
– Jake Evans and Alexander Romanov have both been papered down to the taxi squad already. They can only do one at a time since they have just the one open slot on the taxi squad and need to maintain minimum roster size requirements. Romanov is the one currently down but will be available against Edmonton on Monday.
– It’s obviously a small sample size but Montreal has scored on three of their first five power play attempts. That obviously can’t be maintained but it’s at least a positive in the early going.
Last Game’s Lines:
Tatar – Danault – Gallagher
Drouin – Suzuki – Anderson
Toffoli – Kotkaniemi – Armia
Byron – Evans – Lehkonen
Chiarot – Weber
Edmundson – Petry
Kulak – Romanov
The Week Ahead
Jan. 18: at Edmonton – It’s a rematch from Saturday’s game where the Oilers will certainly be looking for revenge. With Mike Smith on the shelf and a less-than-ideal backup goalie situation, expect Mikko Koskinen to get the start again while this could be a spot for Jake Allen to make his Montreal debut. Zack Kassian will also probably be back in the lineup after missing Saturday’s contest due to the birth of his daughter.
Jan. 20/21/23: at Vancouver – The road trip comes to an end against a Vancouver team that has had one good game and two clunkers so far. They’re set to get a key piece back though as J.T. Miller has been cleared from COVID-19 protocols and he was one of their top scorers last season. It’s obviously early but they’re allowing a little over 37 shots per game and will be facing a Montreal team who is usually up near the top in shots per game. Braden Holtby (who replaced Jacob Markstrom) and Thatcher Demko could be busy.
The departure of Noah Juulsen to Florida on waivers certainly stings. Yes, it means that it’s another first-round pick that has come and gone without amounting to much but this is not another Jarred Tinordi situation where the player is effectively a bust. I don’t think anyone could realistically call him that after injuries more or less took away his last two seasons. I don’t think anyone could call him a high-end prospect either at this point. Come to think of it, I don’t think anyone could call Juulsen…well, anything right now.
There’s definitely some promise but he needs to play in order to reach that potential and he simply wasn’t in the top seven on Montreal’s depth chart. Sure, they could have held him as the number eight option (and they did have the cap room to do that) but how much would he have played? He wouldn’t have had a chance, creating another untenable Tinordi-like situation. Unfortunately for him, while he’ll at least get to collect NHL money for a bit, he probably isn’t going to play with the Panthers either. When everyone’s healthy, Juulsen is either eighth or ninth on their depth chart. Can Florida effectively ‘red shirt’ him for the season? I guess with this being a shortened season, it’s as good of a time as any to try.
Juulsen isn’t a bust at this point and him leaving shouldn’t be viewed as an automatic indictment on the scouting staff either. He’s a victim of bad luck, plain and simple. Good luck to Juulsen with Florida; here’s hoping for his sake he’ll get a chance to play at some point.
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