Getting outshot by significant margins is rarely a strategy for success and that proved to be the case this past week for the Habs as they were outshot and outchanced in all three games and could only muster up a single point.
The Week That Was
Nov. 29: Canucks 2, Canadiens 1 – The battle of significant underachievers actually was an interesting one. Montreal came out with zero intensity and were badly outplayed early on but managed to get out of the first period tied after Ryan Poehling scored one late. The Habs actually showed some signs of life as the game went on but Thatcher Demko was quite strong in goal for Vancouver. The difference in the game wound up being a goal in the second from Conor Garland that was set up from another puzzling Jeff Petry play in the defensive zone.
Dec. 2: Avalanche 4, Canadiens 1 – Montreal caught a break on two fronts in this one – the Avs were in a back-to-back and had Jonas Johansson between the pipes a night after he allowed eight goals. They couldn’t muster up anything resembling an attack, however. It took until their fourth power play to record a shot (one from Ben Chiarot that went in) but beyond that, they were outplayed significantly and Jake Allen could only do so much to keep it close.
Dec. 4: Predators 4, Canadiens 3 (OT) – In a game that was a bit chippier than one might expect from an out-of-conference matchup, the Habs played a good 20 minutes in regulation time. They were dominated to start the game and at the end of it but in between, they actually were able to control the play, picking up a pair of goals. Brett Kulak’s first of the year early in the third restored their lead where they completely fell apart from there and Nashville eventually tied it up. Montreal was better than usual in overtime but a late goal from Filip Forsberg allowed the home side to walk away with the extra point.
Goals: Josh Anderson (7)
Assists: Tyler Toffoli (12)
Points: Tyler Toffoli (17)
+/-: Mathieu Perreault (+3)
PIMS: Brendan Gallagher (24)
Shots: Josh Anderson (66)
News And Notes
– Brendan Gallagher and Sami Niku both entered COVID protocol. While not announced as confirmed positive tests, the fact they’ve missed two straight games means that they’ll be out for a minimum of ten days, taking them out of the upcoming week as well.
– Mathieu Perreault and Brett Kulak returned from their respective injuries against Colorado. However, Josh Anderson suffered an upper-body injury in that one while Jeff Petry was ruled out following that game with an upper-body injury of his own. Laurent Dauphin and Corey Schueneman were briefly recalled but were both sent down on Saturday.
– The reason for their demotions was that Mike Hoffman returned from his undisclosed injury on Saturday while the team claimed defenceman Kale Clague off waivers from Los Angeles.
– As part of his press conference on Friday, Jeff Gorton indicated that the coaching staff would stick around for the remainder of the season so even with the team struggling at the moment, don’t expect any changes on that front soon.
Last Game’s Lines:
Hoffman – Suzuki – Evans
Toffoli – Dvorak – Caufield
Drouin – Poehling – Armia
Pezzetta – Perreault – Lehkonen
Romanov – Kulak
Norlinder – Wideman
The Week Ahead
Dec. 7: vs Tampa Bay – It’s a rematch of the Stanley Cup Final with one team playing well and the other, well, not so much; you can figure out which team goes in what category. The Lightning are missing both Nikita Kucherov and Brayden Point but haven’t really skipped a beat with Andrei Vasilevskiy providing elite goaltending once again. Corey Perry has six points in 23 games for Tampa Bay heading into Sunday’s action while playing a very similar role to the one he had with Montreal last season.
Dec. 9: vs Chicago – The Blackhawks still don’t have a great record but they’ve been a much stronger team since the coaching change and have won seven of their last 11 games. Seth Jones is among the top-scoring defencemen in the league in his first season with Chicago while on the other end of the spectrum, Jonathan Toews is still looking for his first goal of the season. Tyler Johnson recently underwent artificial disc replacement surgery, the same procedure Jack Eichel had after being traded to Vegas.
Dec. 11: at St. Louis – Vladimir Tarasenko has bounced back nicely this season after they couldn’t find a taker for him over the summer as he sits third in team scoring with 19 points. Jordan Binnington is currently in COVID protocol and should miss this one. Taking his place on the roster is a name many should be familiar with in Charlie Lindgren who signed with the Blues as a free agent last summer.
Count me among those that were happy to see Kale Clague added off the waiver wire on Saturday. Not only do the Habs need extra depth with them missing so many players but he still has some upside. Yes, he’s another one of those players who is more of an offensive-minded blueliner than a defensive-minded one at this stage of his career but at the age of 23, he’s young enough to theoretically be part of the plans for a few years if he happens to pan out. That’s a big if – one that’s less likely to happen than not – but with this season going nowhere fast, bringing in some younger players to see if one or two could be somewhat useful makes sense.
I think Clague could raise the floor of the third pairing in terms of usage which could take some heat off the top pairing. He also could see some time on the power play and while Ben Chiarot is having a surprisingly good offensive season, he’s not someone that should be on a power play unit unless they’re out of options. I remember watching Clague in junior and thinking he could be a capable piece on an NHL third pairing. With the state of the back end right now, he should be able to get into the lineup fairly soon and we’ll see what happens from there.