The Habs were able to put some goals up this past week but that wasn’t enough to change their fortunes as they only had one win sandwiched by a pair of losses as they remain at the bottom of the Eastern Conference.
The Week That Was
Apr. 5: Senators 6, Canadiens 3 – Brendan Gallagher made an immediate impact upon his return, scoring his first even strength goal in four months before the game was three minutes old. Justin Barron scored his first career NHL goal and Cole Caufield scored again. That’s about it for good news as Jake Allen had a tough night and Barron was injured on Ottawa’s empty-netter.
Apr. 7: Canadiens 7, Devils 4 – New Jersey opted to start former Hab Andrew Hammond in this one, a decision that allowed Montreal to have their best offensive night of the season. The Canadiens had seven different goal scorers including Chris Wideman and Kale Clague who each had their first career three-point game in their first game back from being scratched (Wideman) or injured (Clague).
Apr. 9: Maple Leafs 3, Canadiens 2 – This is a final score that flattered Montreal as they didn’t have their best effort for long stretches of this one. Auston Matthews scored twice in the first had the Canadiens down early and they weren’t able to recover even with Joel Edmundson and Cole Caufield scoring in the second. The winner came from a pass that was going wide but hit the skate of Jordan Harris and redirected into the net.
Goals: Nick Suzuki (19)
Assists: Nick Suzuki (35)
Points: Nick Suzuki (54)
+/-: Mathieu Perreault (+4)
PIMS: Michael Pezzetta (70)
Shots: Nick Suzuki (171)
News And Notes
– Once again, there was good and bad news on the injury front. Brendan Gallagher, Kale Clague, and Michael Pezzetta all returned but Paul Byron and Justin Barron were both injured against Ottawa and Jake Allen looked to re-aggravate the groin injury that held him out until recently against Toronto. Cayden Primeau has been recalled from Laval on an emergency basis.
– Jonathan Drouin underwent wrist surgery (evidently, the second opinion he was seeking matched that of Montreal’s doctors) which officially ends his season. He’s expected to be ready for training camp in the fall.
– Nick Suzuki earned a $212,500 ‘A’ bonus with his assist against Toronto. He’s nearing the threshold for goals and points as well. As Montreal has been in LTIR all season and will stay there, this will be charged against the cap in 2022-23.
Last Game’s Lines:
Caufield – Suzuki – R. Pitlick
Hoffman – Evans – Anderson
Armia – Dvorak – Gallagher
Pezzetta – Dauphin – T. Pitlick
Romanov – Savard
Edmundson – Petry
Harris – Wideman
The Week Ahead
Apr. 11: vs Winnipeg – The Jets have been one of the most underachieving teams in the league this season with their early coaching change doing nothing to change their fortunes. They’re still technically in the playoff mix but are approaching a situation where they will need to win out to have a shot. Blake Wheeler has been one of their top scorers since the start of February (34 points in 30 games) but has missed two straight games and is listed as doubtful for this one due to an upper-body injury.
Apr. 13: at Columbus – For a team that many expected to be in the basement of the Metropolitan Division this season, the Blue Jackets continue to impress, hovering near the .500 mark despite a quickly growing list of injuries. They could have some reinforcements for this one, however, as they recently signed a pair of players out of Michigan including their top pick in 2021 in Kent Johnson who was picked fifth overall.
Apr. 15: vs NY Islanders – It has just been a tough year for the Isles who just haven’t been able to recover from a 13-game road trip to start the year and a tough battle with COVID soon after. They remain a stingy team defensively but scoring has been an issue for them aside from Brock Nelson who is having a career year.
Apr. 16: vs Washington – The Capitals are in a close battle with Pittsburgh for who will be the third seed in the Metropolitan and who will be the second Wild Card team that will play Florida in the first round of the playoffs. They’re still platooning their goalies in the hopes that one of them can grab a hold of the number one role while Alex Ovechkin is back to his early-season scoring prowess with a dozen goals in his last 16 games. Meanwhile, former Hab Lars Eller has just two goals in his last 20 contests.
Suffering a season-ending injury is never a good thing but the wrist surgery that Jonathan Drouin just had gives Montreal a small silver lining. With Carey Price appearing to be close to returning, the Canadiens will need to activate him off LTIR. As a result of carrying a bigger active roster plus retaining on three players at the deadline, the Habs technically don’t have the cap space to do it. They were going to be in a spot where they would have had to shuffle their waiver-exempt prospects back to Laval but now, they won’t have to do so as they can simply place Drouin on LTIR and that will be enough to make the difference. Drouin may not have any more direct on-ice contributions this season but his surgery will allow them to keep players like Justin Barron, Jesse Ylonen, and Corey Schueneman up and bring Price back for a few late starts. In a year where there haven’t been many positives or even silver linings, this is at least something.