The losing streak is now approaching a season-long mark as Montreal had some defensive struggles over the past seven days. However, they also ‘gained’ ground at one end of the standings, making for an interesting final week of the season.
The Week That Was
Apr. 19: Wild 2, Canadiens 0 – After a strong showing in his season debut, Carey Price had another solid performance, this time against one of the stronger teams in the West. But also like in his season debut, the Habs couldn’t score. Montreal’s penalty killing woes continued as Kevin Fiala had a power play marker while Matt Boldy added the insurance marker, going between the legs on a highlight-reel play.
Apr. 21: Flyers 6, Canadiens 3 – Considering Philadelphia has also been a team in freefall, this looked like a potentially winnable game for both sides. But the Habs got off to a sluggish start and were down by two early before catching a break on a referee not knowing the rule that a hand pass could be challenged, allowing Mike Hoffman to get on the board. That settled the Canadiens down but not for long as after they tied it up, the Flyers scored four straight to put the game out of hand.
Apr. 23: Senators 6, Canadiens 4 – Ottawa had revenge on their mind following Brendan Gallagher’s well-publicized comments about Tim Stutzle which led to a chippy affair. The evidence came early when Mark Kastelic scored his first career NHL goal but as the puck was entering the net, he had his gloves dropped and was fighting Michael Pezzetta. The Habs fell apart in the second period, allowing five goals including four in a two-minute span and while they put forth a very strong second half of the game, that was simply too much of a deficit to overcome.
Apr. 24: Bruins 4, Canadiens 3 – Following a memorable pregame ceremony to celebrate the late Guy Lafleur, this one wasn’t exactly a throwback to the days when the rivalry was at its best. Boston had a three-goal lead after 40 minutes (including a somewhat controversial penalty shot goal from Erik Haula) but once again, the Habs put forth a good effort to try to make a comeback with goals from Hoffman and Suzuki early in the making it interesting. However, that was as close as they got.
Goals: Nick Suzuki (21)
Assists: Nick Suzuki (38)
Points: Nick Suzuki (59)
+/-: Sami Niku (+3)
PIMS: Michael Pezzetta (81)
Shots: Nick Suzuki (185)
News And Notes
– Paul Byron left the Minnesota game early due to a lower-body injury. Meanwhile, fellow winger Joel Armia has taken a leave of absence for family reasons and has returned to Finland. At this point, it’s unlikely either of them will return this season.
– Rafael Harvey-Pinard was brought up to take Michael Pezzetta’s spot while he was serving his suspension with Montreal burning their final regular recall in the process. However, he was sent back to Laval after Thursday’s game.
– Cayden Primeau was recalled from Laval with the Habs electing to sit Carey Price against Ottawa and New York (this coming Wednesday). Technically, they’ve declared an injury in order to get Primeau up under emergency conditions.
– Mike Hoffman snapped both of his goal droughts, goals (first in 22 games with his goal against Philadelphia) and power play goals (first in 44 games with his marker against Boston).
Last Game’s Lines:
Caufield – Suzuki – Hoffman
Gallagher – Dvorak – Anderson
R. Pitlick – Evans – Pitlick
Pezzetta – Dauphin – Perreault
Edmundson – Petry
Romanov – Savard
Lagesson – Harris
The Week Ahead
Apr. 27: at New York (R) – It’s possible that the Rangers have something to play for in this one, depending on what happens on Tuesday against Carolina. If they win that game, they’ll still be battling for first in the Metropolitan Division but if not, they’ll be locked into second place. Either way, it seems likely that backup Alexandar Georgiev will get the nod in this game.
Apr. 29: vs Florida – The Panthers should have first place in the league locked up by this one and it’s quite possible – if not likely – that several of their top players will be healthy scratches for this one. That said, their offence is still strong enough to do some damage. They have seven players with more than 20 goals this season and two others (Mason Marchment and Anton Lundell) are two away from that mark and will have a shot at getting there this week. The Habs, meanwhile, have two in Nick Suzuki and Cole Caufield.
Carey Price is Montreal’s nominee for the Masterton Trophy as voted on by writers from the Montreal chapter of the PHWA. They certainly got this one right.
Sure, Price has been back for all of a week and is now out again. But perseverance and dedication are two key characteristics of this award and who has had more of that on the Habs this season? From missing time to get help for an addiction that had him in the Players’ Assistance Program to trying to come back from a knee injury that brought about multiple setbacks along the way, Price showed both of those in spades. He could have easily shut things down with the way the season was going and I don’t think anyone would’ve blamed him. But he didn’t and in doing so, his return brought about a rare bright spot in what has been an ugly season. The nomination is a small gesture but a very well-deserved one.