The past week for the Habs featured three different types of games – a close one, a blowout loss, and a mostly blowout win. In the end, the end result in the standings was pretty much the same as they picked up just the one victory which led to some more desperate roster movement than usual.
The Week That Was
Nov. 16: Rangers 3, Canadiens 2 – Cayden Primeau’s first game of the season was a good one as he kept Montreal in the game longer than their level of performance would have normally justified. Both teams split goals in the second and third periods with the one difference being that New York also picked up a goal in the first period. Christian Dvorak and Josh Anderson had the goals in the losing effort.
Nov. 18: Penguins 6, Canadiens 0 – Speaking of losing efforts, pretty much the entire team provided one of those on Thursday in a game where the Habs were just lousy. Primeau struggled with his positioning and Pittsburgh made him pay although the defence in front of him wasn’t much better. Mattias Norlinder made his NHL debut in this one, too bad it was a game pretty much everyone else will want to forget.
Nov. 20: Canadiens 6, Predators 3 – The Habs were able to take advantage of a rare off night from Juuse Saros and some shaky play in the second period to get out to a five-goal lead before the halfway point including a pair from Ryan Poehling. Nashville made it close in the third period (which is impressive in a 5-0 game) with three straight goals from Matt Duchene but Montreal was able to add the empty-netter to secure the victory.
Goals: 6 tied with (4)
Assists: Nick Suzuki (10)
Points: Nick Suzuki (14)
+/-: Armia/Niku/Perreault (+3)
PIMS: Brendan Gallagher (24)
Shots: Tyler Toffoli (52)
News And Notes
– On the injury front, Joel Edmundson has resumed skating while Jake Allen has also resumed on-ice workouts; Cayden Primeau was sent down on Sunday. Mathieu Perreault will miss an extra couple of weeks after having to undergo a second procedure on his retina.
– Adam Brooks was waived and claimed by Vegas while Cole Caufield was recalled with Alex Belzile being sent to Laval.
– Michael Pezzetta’s next game will make him eligible for waivers. If you’re wondering why he sat against Nashville, that may have been part of the thought process there.
– GM Marc Bergevin tested positive for COVID-19. The rest of the team will be undergoing stricter testing for next week and a half as a result to try to avoid any outbreak from potentially happening.
Last Game’s Lines:
Toffoli – Suzuki – Caufield
Drouin – Dvorak – Anderson
Lehkonen – Evans – Gallagher
Poehling – Armia
Chiarot – Petry
Norlinder – Savard
Romanov – Wideman
The Week Ahead
Nov. 24: at Washington – Who had the Capitals as one of the top offensive and defensive teams in the league this season? I know I didn’t. Alex Ovechkin is on pace for the best statistical season of his career which is quite impressive while Ilya Samsonov and Vitek Vanecek have combined to be one of the top goalie tandems. Even more impressive is that they’re this strong without Nicklas Backstrom who has yet to play in 2021-22 while T.J. Oshie just returned from an extended absence. Former Hab Lars Eller is currently in COVID protocol.
Nov. 26: at Buffalo – After a hot start, the Sabres have performed closer to their preseason expectations over the last few weeks as they’ve dropped back down to a .500 points percentage. Dustin Tokarski (yes, he’s still in the league) has taken over as the starter with Craig Anderson out and has actually done relatively well most nights.
Nov. 27: at Pittsburgh – Yes, the Penguins again. There isn’t much to analyze here after they made short work of Montreal back on Thursday. It’s reasonable to think that Dominique Ducharme will have a better game plan for this matchup and it wouldn’t be surprising to see the Habs put a better effort in to try to get some revenge for getting embarrassed. We’ll see how it all plays out.
To tank or not to tank, that is the question. The funny thing is, however, it’s not much of a question on either side of the coin. It sure seems like quite a few fans want to see it – at least for the rest of this season – while the organization clearly has no intention of going that route yet. Look no further than two small roster moves made this week. Both came off as complete desperation with the hopes of either catching fire or defying medical logic which goes directly against the idea that they might be throwing in the towel.
When Jake Allen was diagnosed with a concussion, he was ruled out for a week. That’s typically the minimum amount of time that players diagnosed with a concussion miss. But instead of placing him on IR, the Habs hoped that Allen would somehow be ready to go before that stretch (despite a long history of even minor concussions needing a full week of recovery time) which meant that they needed to free up a roster spot for Cayden Primeau. That resulted in Adam Brooks’ departure to give them the ever-so-slim chance of Allen playing on Saturday against Nashville. As it turns out, Allen wasn’t able to defy medical logic so they gave Brooks away earlier than they needed to for no reason. Wouldn’t you know it, the regular timeline was what he needed.
Then there’s the recall of Cole Caufield. He had been okay with Laval but there was clearly some work to be done still. But after one good game against Toronto, they tried to catch lightning in a bottle by bringing him up. It’s an approach they’ve tried many times before with the same level of success (none). Marc Bergevin’s logic for the move is that they were shorthanded up front. (Maybe if they didn’t try to ignore the minimum timeline for recovering from a concussion, perhaps they’d have had another forward on the roster…just saying.) Even so, there were more deserving players to bring up such as Laurent Dauphin. But he’s not a ‘swing for the fence’ type of impact player that Caufield is so they went that route instead even though it’s not the ideal one from a development perspective.
These are not the moves of a team that’s trying to lose. No, these types of decisions are ones made when a team is desperate. If you’re looking to see the team actively try to lose, they’re clearly not ready to go down that route just yet.