The Habs put forth some better performances last week compared to earlier in the season but at the end of the day, the results were largely the same as they managed just a single win over their four games.
The Week That Was
Nov. 9: Kings 3, Canadiens 2 (OT) – The Habs had a shot at some revenge on Los Angeles after falling to them on the road but once again, the offence was too sporadic. Ben Chiarot opened the scoring but the Kings got that one back in the second. Alex Iafallo set a franchise record for the fastest goal to start a period when he scored six seconds into the third but Jake Evans’ highlight-reel marker tied it up and sent Montreal to overtime for the first time this season. It ended like a lot of extra periods did last year, with the Canadiens playing rope-a-dope to start before eventually allowing the winner to Adrian Kempe.
Nov. 11: Canadiens 4, Flames 2 – With Montreal in a funk and Calgary off to a hot start, naturally this was the game the Habs won. They put forth their best effort of the year and after a quiet start that had them down just two minutes in, they also had one of their more consistent outings. The end result was a trio of goals in the second half of the game including two (count ’em, two) power play markers.
Nov. 13: Red Wings 3, Canadiens 2 (OT) – The Habs had a shot at sweeping the season series but Jeff Petry did his best to stop that from happening, inexplicably shoving Dylan Larkin at full speed into Jake Allen, putting the goalie into concussion protocol and forcing Samuel Montembeault to come in cold. That didn’t go so well, especially at the beginning as the youngster allowed a pair of quick ones in the second, erasing Montreal’s early lead when Ryan Poehling scored. Chris Wideman tied it up in the third off a perfect and completely fluky no-look feed from Artturi Lehkonen but once again, overtime didn’t go too well with Larkin getting the winner.
Nov. 14: Bruins 5, Canadiens 2 – Montreal came out quite strong in this one and had an impressive first period while Montembeault’s first half of the game was quite strong. The second half didn’t go quite as well, however. While Michael Pezzetta’s first NHL tally late in the second gave the Habs the lead going to the third period, Boston scored four straight to put the game out of reach.
Goals: Chiarot/Hoffman/Suzuki (4)
Assists: Nick Suzuki (10)
Points: Nick Suzuki (14)
+/-: Niku/Perreault (+3)
PIMS: Cedric Paquette (23)
Shots: Nick Suzuki (45)
News And Notes
– Cedric Paquette was injured early in the game against Los Angeles. He was quickly placed on IR with Ryan Poehling being recalled; Paquette is expected to be out for a little more than a week.
– Cayden Primeau was brought up on a 48-hour emergency recall for the game against Boston, allowing the Habs to temporarily exceed the 23-man roster limit (they currently are at 24). Jake Allen will need to dress against the Rangers, be transferred to IR, or the team will have to apply to extend the emergency recall. Teams only get two of these a season and using both this early wouldn’t be ideal.
– Joel Armia’s goal against Boston was his first in 24 regular season games; frequent linemate Artturi Lehkonen hasn’t scored in his last 18 regular season contests.
– Mike Hoffman missed Boston’s game with an undisclosed injury. He hasn’t been placed on IR yet. Jonathan Drouin has received the green light to return from team doctors so he should be close to returning.
Last Game’s Lines:
Toffoli – Suzuki – Anderson
Poehling – Dvorak – Gallagher
Lehkonen – Evans – Armia
Pezzetta – Brooks – Belzile
Chiarot – Petry
Kulak – Savard
Romanov – Wideman
The Week Ahead
Nov. 16: at New York (R) – Gerard Gallant’s squad is off to a nice start to the season with a 9-3-3 record despite having just one player with more than four goals on the season. That player isn’t Artemi Panarin, Mika Zibanejad, or even Adam Fox. No, it’s Chris Kreider who has 11 tallies in 15 games. Kaapo Kakko finally got his first goal of the season on Sunday while 2020 top pick Alexis Lafreniere is up to four in his sophomore campaign.
Nov. 18: vs Pittsburgh – The Penguins are getting close to being fully healthy with their players (including Sidney Crosby) cleared from COVID protocol while Evgeni Malkin remains out as he works his way back from knee surgery. They’re coming off a tougher weekend than the Habs as Pittsburgh allowed six goals in back-to-back games including against Ottawa who was basically missing half their lineup.
Nov. 20: vs Nashville – Here’s a team that many (myself included) wrote off at the start of the season but they sit in second in the Central. Matt Duchene went from being an overpaid underachiever to their leading scorer, tied with Roman Josi and Mikael Granlund. The Preds are without Filip Forsberg and former Hab Nick Cousins due to injuries. Another former Hab, Michael McCarron, is also currently up with the Predators.
The Habs find themselves in somewhat of a no-win situation with Mattias Norlinder right now. His three-game conditioning stint in Laval came to an end mid-week and he has been a healthy scratch for three straight games since then. He can’t be sent to the Rocket on assignment (only the injury conditioning loan) so he either has to play with the Habs or go back to Frolunda and at that point, he’s probably staying there for the rest of the season; having someone fly over from Sweden on a midseason recall wouldn’t make a lot of sense.
But here’s the problem. Norlinder showed in his three games with Laval that he isn’t NHL-ready. On the other hand, Montreal has taken him away from his club team for two months so sending him back now without giving him at least a game or two isn’t really fair to him either. The easier part of Montreal’s schedule is over so finding the right matchup is going to be tough and sitting him any longer than they have isn’t helping his development in any aspect.
Ready or not, it’s time to get him in there. Joel Edmundson is due to come back soon and when that happens, their hand is going to be forced and at this point, sending Norlinder back home is the logical choice with waiving Sami Niku being the other possible option. That leaves a limited window to get Norlinder some game action and let’s face it, it’s not as if Montreal is messing with a winning lineup here. It’s time to see what he can (and, perhaps more importantly, can’t) do and then they can get him back home and into a situation where he’ll play regularly. That’s what’s best from a development perspective so let’s get the ball rolling on the inevitable already.