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What a difference seven days makes. One week ago, things weren't looking too rosy for the Habs who had lost three straight but now their fortunes have reversed after a perfect 3-0 effort. The Bulldogs' fortunes haven't changed - they're still miles away from the postseason - but they too were 3-0. There also was a trade this past week, my Final Thought looks at the deal in more detail.
Cheers and Jeers
1) Tomas Plekanec, a model of consistency once again this year. Rarely is there a variation in terms of his play from game-to-game; sure he has a few great nights and some bad ones but in a season where everything is crammed in, a reliable and consistent contributor is even more valuable than usual.
2) Brendan Gallagher, who seemed to spark Max Pacioretty and David Desharnais. Even though he's now out with a concussion, the brief time he spent with them yielded quite arguably the others' best efforts on the season. If that's enough to get them going again, he will deserve a lot of credit.
3) Raphael Diaz, for playing strong throughout the week despite being used an awful lot (and that's with lowered PP time). Honestly he's playing more than I think anyone would like but he is handling the minutes better than I expected.
1) Whichever coach made the decision to put P.K. Subban and Andrei Markov on the same PP unit (it could be Therrien or Gallant). Both need the puck on their sticks to be useful and we all know that when Subban is out there, he doesn't defer. It makes sense in late game situations but they need their own units to be most effective. The PP has struggled as of late and I believe this is a notable part of the reason why.
2) The offensive attack in the 3rd period which, after an empty netter against the Flyers, moved the Habs barely out of a tie for dead last in the league for goals scored in the final stanza. Add that to the fact the team is near the top in most 3rd period goals allowed and it's pretty easy to see that closing out games is still a problem.
3) Erik Cole, for failing to get it done offensively (he has hit the scoresheet just once in the past nine games). Yes, he is doing other things out there to help but at the end of the day, he's not one of the highest paid forwards for his hitting ability. We're now more than 30% into the year and he needs to get better fast.
SHOOTOUT - SKATERS
SHOOTOUT - GOALIES
Goals: Tomas Plekanec (7)
Assists: Raphael Diaz (10)
Points: Tomas Plekanec (12)
+/-: Galchenyuk/Gallagher (+7)
PIMS: Brandon Prust (71)
Shots: Tomas Plekanec (44)
February 18: Carolina vs Montreal
February 19: Montreal vs New York (R)
February 21: New York (I) vs Montreal
February 23: New York (R) vs Montreal
The Dog Pound
They probably have dug themselves too deep of a hole to climb out of but with a perfect 3-0 week, the Bulldogs were able to chip away at the points deficit between them and the final playoff spot in the West. Several more perfect weeks will be needed to get back into the thick of things though.
News and Notes:
- Stefan Chaput's goal against Toronto snapped a 21 game goalless drought (he scored the following game as well).
- Approximate lines from the most recent game:
Blunden - Tenute - Holland
Bournival - Dumont - Leblanc
Murovich - Chaput - Stortini
Hagel - Fortier - Avtsin
Beaulieu - Pateryn
Ellis - DeSantis
Tinordi - Stejskal
SHOOTOUT - SKATERS
SHOOTOUT - GOALIES
Goals: Gabriel Dumont (15)
Assists: Gabriel Dumont (15)
Points: Gabriel Dumont (30)
+/-: Joonas Nattinen (+6)
PIMS: Zack Stortini (169)
Shots: Brendan Gallagher (117) (Active Leader: Gabriel Dumont with 109)
Rochester vs Hamilton
February 22: Rochester vs Hamilton
February 24: Milwaukee vs Hamilton
I'm a fan of the trade that went down earlier in the one, a deal that saw the Habs and Lightning swap third string netminders. Montreal acquired Dustin Tokarski while Tampa Bay added (for the second time) Cedrick Desjardins. Neither are likely to see any significant NHL time this season but next year, that could be another story.
We all know Peter Budaj has been shaky so far this year (although he was a bit better against the Flyers) and if that continues, he probably won't be offered a contract for next season. The UFA goalie market for the what the Habs can offer (low playing time and thus likely a low salary) is pretty thin so it stands to reason that Tokarski could very well be a potential option. Prior to the Lightning acquiring Anders Lindback, it was widely believed that he was going to get the first chance to be the second goalie (with Mathieu Garon) and his play in the AHL this season shouldn't change that mindset.
Is Tokarski a shoo-in for the job next year? Hardly. (Heck, a lot of us said that about the last goalie acquired for Cedrick Desjardins and that one didn't turn out as expected.) But, is he a more viable option for the role than Desjardins, a goalie who was quickly losing playing time to Robert Mayer? He most certainly is which makes this deal a win in my books. Plus, it's nice to look at the goalie depth chart and actually see a youngster with NHL potential. It has been a while since that could be said about someone in the system (Price being the most recent).
If you have any questions/comments, please feel free to drop me a line at firstname.lastname@example.org.