It was only a matter of time before the season-ending injury to Cole Caufield weakened Montreal’s offence. That happened this past week as the Habs were only able to muster up five goals in three games with just a single point to show for it in the standings.
The Week That Was
Jan. 24: Bruins 4, Canadiens 2 – Facing the top team in the NHL is no easy task for any squad, let alone one near the bottom of the standings. To their credit, the Habs held their own in this one and a pair of goals from Kirby Dach had the game tied with less than three minutes left. However, Patrice Bergeron scored soon after before David Pastrnak capped off a four-point night with the empty-netter.
Jan. 26: Red Wings 4, Canadiens 3 (OT) – One of the few positives of having a team with a bunch of injuries is the opportunity for players from the minors to come in and play hard to try to make their mark. That’s what happened in this one as Rafael Harvey-Pinard had a two-goal, three-point game while Alex Belzile added a pair of assists to contribute most of Montreal’s attack. The Canadiens squandered a late power play that carried into overtime, allowing Robby Fabbri to score the winner soon after.
Jan. 28: Senators 5, Canadiens 0 – This game was closer than the score might indicate. The first period was pretty close and even the second was competitive despite the Sens picking up a 3-0 lead including a pair from Claude Giroux in less than two minutes. The third…well, let’s not dig into that one. Either way, a tough end to the week.
Goals: Cole Caufield (26)
Assists: Dach/Suzuki (22)
Points: Nick Suzuki (38)
+/-: Chris Wideman (+4)
PIMS: Arber Xhekaj (92)
Shots: Cole Caufield (158)
News And Notes
– Cole Caufield’s shoulder surgery is slated for this Wednesday, giving him ample time to recover in time for training camp. He mentioned that his shoulder had been dislocated twice over the past few weeks, something that likely would have continued had he stayed in the lineup.
– Joel Edmundson left Thursday’s game with what was called a lower-body injury before the team changed it to an upper-body issue the next day. There’s no timetable for how long he’ll miss.
– Owen Beck was recalled from Peterborough of the OHL, the first in-season CHL recall since Mikhail Sergachev for the final game of the 2016-17 campaign. He was returned to the Petes after Saturday’s game.
– Last season, David Savard averaged more than two hits per game (2.16) for the second year in a row. This year, however, he’s at 0.78, the lowest rate of his career. On the other side, he’s averaging more than three blocked shots per contest, a career high.
Last Game’s Lines:
Pitlick – Suzuki – Anderson
Dadonov – Dach – Hoffman
Dvorak – Beck – Ylonen
Pezzetta – Belzile – Harvey-Pinard
Xhekaj – Savard
Matheson – Barron
Harris – Kovacevic
The Week Ahead
Tuesday vs Ottawa – Yep, this is it for the week for the Canadiens who will then be off for the All-Star break followed by their bye week (and then a very compressed rest of the schedule). The Sens have already ruled out Cam Talbot due to injury for this one so it will likely be Anton Forsberg getting the nod in goal once again. Alex DeBrincat’s goal on Saturday gives Ottawa five players with at least 40 points. Montreal’s still looking for their first to hit that mark despite only scoring 16 fewer goals than their divisional rival.
The recall of Owen Beck on Friday night was a bit surprising but given the circumstances, it made a lot of sense. Laval is basically running with a minimum-sized roster themselves and Trois-Rivieres has plenty of short-term tryouts to have a shot at dressing the minimum on any given night. Laval was also on the road, making a recall a bit harder.
In that sense, picking someone who was at least in the general area (Beck, who plays a few hours away in Peterborough) was a logical choice compared to one of their QMJHL options who would have had a longer travel day. GM Kent Hughes spoke of not wanting to disrupt the season for his CHL-based prospects but by making it a one-and-done recall, Beck didn’t miss a game in junior. That wouldn’t have been the case for most of the other recall options so mission accomplished on that front.
Would I have liked to see Beck get a second game in the rematch on Tuesday? Sure. But Laval is off now until Friday so they can easily pull someone up from the Rocket to play as the 12th forward for that game (and there are a few worthy candidates for that spot) before sending him and a couple others back after for a pair of key divisional games as they look to stay in the playoff hunt.
Pulling a player up mid-season from major junior is always a bit of a clunky situation which is why it rarely happens league-wide. But given the circumstances, Beck was the right pick and even the decision to send him back after just the one appearance made sense. He’s likely to get a nice confidence boost out of it as will the organization since Beck acquitted himself pretty well.
A quick housekeeping note, with just the one game this coming week, there won’t be a Habs Weekly next week during the All-Star break. Be sure to keep tabs on the site during the break and bye week as we have our midseason draft rankings plus the return of our Prospect Rankings.