One thing that has quickly become evident with the Habs under Martin St. Louis is that there are few blowouts and a high compete level almost every night. That was the case this past week as while Montreal only walked away with four of eight points, every game was close despite their roster being further depleted at the trade deadline.
The Week That Was
Mar. 21: Bruins 3, Canadiens 2 (OT) – Following a trade deadline that saw two more regulars depart (Artturi Lehkonen to Colorado and Brett Kulak to Edmonton), the Habs had to activate David Savard a little earlier than originally expected simply to dress a full lineup. He made an immediate impact, scoring in the second period before Joel Armia gave Montreal the lead on a shorthanded breakaway early in the third. However, Connor Clifton was able to tie it up late, paving the way for Brad Marchand to pick up the winner on the opening shift in overtime.
Mar. 24: Panthers 4, Canadiens 3 – It was technically Ben Chiarot’s return to Montreal although with immigration delays, he never actually left while waiting to join his new team. He had an impact in this one, picking up an assist in over 22 minutes of action. It was their other big pickup who made a bigger difference, however, as Claude Giroux picked up a pair of points including an assist on Sam Reinhart’s winner, erasing a strong start from the Habs who took the lead on a power play goal less than 30 seconds into the game.
Mar. 26: Canadiens 4, Maple Leafs 2 – This one was the Jake Allen show for most of the game. Montreal didn’t exactly have their ‘A’ game and were pinned in their own end for several long stretches following an opening-shift goal from Auston Matthews. Eventually, they were able to claw their way back in it and took the lead in the second when Savard and Cole Caufield scored. William Nylander tied it early in the third but a late goal from Paul Byron on a three-on-one proved to be the difference-maker.
Mar. 27: Devils 3, Canadiens 2 (SO) – The Habs were down two late in the second period but Josh Anderson got them on the board with a well-placed tip not long before the buzzer. That set the stage for Rem Pitlick to pick up his second game-tying goal in the dying seconds of regulation in the past two weeks as Christian Dvorak made a perfect cross-ice pass to set Pitlick up with just 42 seconds remaining. An eventful overtime saw three posts hit but no goals scored while the shootout had plenty of offence with seven goals scored on 14 shots with Yegor Sharangovich potting the winner.
Shootout – Skaters:
Shootout – Goalies:
Goals: Nick Suzuki (18)
Assists: Nick Suzuki (31)
Points: Nick Suzuki (49)
+/-: Niku/Ylonen (+3)
PIMS: Michael Pezzetta (68)
Shots: Nick Suzuki (157)
News And Notes
– As mentioned, Savard made his return while Kale Clague is skating and close to coming back as well. Between those and the additions of William Lagesson and Justin Barron and the signing of Jordan Harris, there is some depth on the back end despite the trades of Ben Chiarot and Brett Kulak.
– The depth is fading fast up front, however. Jonathan Drouin has another wrist injury and is getting a second opinion before deciding on surgery that would end his season. Tyler Pitlick made his Montreal debut on Thursday but was injured two days later as was Michael Pezzetta. That resulted in Jesse Ylonen being brought up on an emergency basis (meaning it doesn’t count against Montreal’s four-recall limit).
– In 21 games under Martin St. Louis, Nick Suzuki is averaging over a point per game (9-13-22). Cole Caufield has been even better over that same stretch (13-12-25).
Last Game’s Lines:
Caufield – Suzuki – Anderson
R. Pitlick – Evans – Hoffman
Byron – Dvorak – Armia
Perreault – Dauphin – Ylonen
Romanov – Savard
Edmundson – Barron
Schueneman – Wideman
The Week Ahead
Mar. 29: at Florida – The Panthers are coming off a back-to-back weekend as well and also lost on Sunday. The game will mark Ben Chiarot’s home debut. Beyond that, nothing much has really changed from their matchup last week. Sergei Bobrovsky played on the weekend after serving as their backup for a while (he wasn’t 100% healthy) so he may be between the pipes for this one.
Mar. 31: at Carolina – The Hurricanes were fairly quiet at the trade deadline although both moves they made involved former Habs. They picked Max Domi for next to nothing from Columbus while officially signing Jesperi Kotkaniemi to an eight-year extension that carries a $4.82 million AAV. Domi hasn’t scored since January 6th (heading into Monday’s game) while Kotkaniemi has gone more than a month without scoring. Meanwhile, Carolina continues to lead the way in the Metropolitan Division.
Apr. 2: at Tampa Bay – What a way to end a tough week and road trip with a matchup against the defending Cup champions. Tampa Bay has actually scuffled a bit as of late and were briefly in a Wild Card spot just a few days ago. Aside from an injury to Ryan McDonagh, they’re fully healthy but are only just above the middle of the pack in offence so far this season.
Montreal officially signed Jordan Harris over the weekend, putting the end to any speculation that he’d opt for free agency in the summer. However, there was some confusion as to whether or not he’d be able to join Laval this season. The answer for that is no.
If Harris had signed a future contract beginning in 2022-23, he’d have been able to sign an ATO deal to play for the Rocket. However, he signed a contract that started this season. In doing so, he became subject to the AHL eligibility rule that came into effect after the deadline. Basically, unless a player was on an AHL roster at that time, they can’t play the rest of the way. Harris obviously wasn’t so he isn’t eligible.
If you’re looking for a possible silver lining, it’s this. USA Hockey has often brought college players to their team at the World Championships in recent years and Harris nearly made the cut for the Olympic team where he was basically a late injury away from being added to the roster. Chances are that if he wants to play at the Worlds, there will be a spot for him so while he won’t be playing in Laval in May, he should have the chance to still play overseas in that tournament.