It was a week of ups and downs for the Habs as
they won a pair of well-played games and lost a pair of poorly-played ones.
In Hamilton, the Bulldogs picked up a pair of wins as to claw back to a .500
points percentage. With Montreal adding a pair of defencemen recently,
many seem to think Tom Gilbert should be on the way out. My Final Thought
argues why this may not be the best idea.
1) Managing minutes, something we’re seeing
with the current 7 D rotation. In the last couple of games, both Andrei
Markov and P.K. Subban have played well below their season averages. If
the next game or two yields similar playing time, it will effectively be a full
game off for those two in the span of a week without them actually sitting.
Things like that can make a big difference over the course of a year.
2) Carey Price, who has provided some top-level
goaltending in recent weeks. In his last 13 games, he has allowed one or
fewer goals a total of eight times. The Habs are going to win a lot of
games when they only need two goals to win, even if their offence is hit-or-miss
3) A strong response to the loss against
Pittsburgh. That one was ugly and there were a lot of questions and
complaints following the game – is this team all that good? Montreal
responded with one of their best games of the year against another high quality
opponent in St. Louis. After losing ugly to the Rangers, we’ll see if
there’s another good bounce-back game this week.
1) Losing ugly. While at the end of the
day a loss is a loss, be it by one goal or ten, getting outscored by 27 goals in
six regulation losses is ridiculous. A little more effort in these games
would go a long way to ease some of the worries many have about the
sustainability of this team. No one’s going to win every game. But,
no good team should lose this badly this often either.
2) The quick negativity towards Bryan Allen.
For starters, it’s not as if the team is realistically expecting him to be a
core piece. He’s a depth player acquired in what amounted to a salary dump
for next year. Expectations should be low. Also, not practicing
doesn’t help his cause, nor does having a rotation of partners with seven
defencemen being used regularly in a game. A few practices and a stable
partner will be the true test of what he can provide, not what we’ve seen so
3) The complaints over Manny Malhotra’s lack of
offence. Yes, a production level equal to that of most goalies isn’t ideal
but his role is to win faceoffs. Malhotra is leading the league in that
regard which means he’s doing his job. The odd goal here or there would be
great but if he keeps doing what he has done so far, I don’t think anyone in the
organization is going to be upset.
Goals: Max Pacioretty (10)
Assists: Desharnais/Galchenyuk/Plekanec (9)
Points: Max Pacioretty (18)
+/-: Max Pacioretty (+10)
PIMS: Brandon Prust (35)
Shots: Max Pacioretty (80)
Hamilton took care of business last week as
they beat division rival Toronto in a home-and-home set. They also held
their own in a loss to Utica who, at the time, was the AHL’s leader in points.
– Jack Nevins returned to the lineup for the
home-and-home with Toronto. There are still three injuries for the ‘Dogs,
Stefan Fournier, Dalton Thrower, and Christian Thomas. Thomas is expected
to play in the near future.
– The Bulldogs have eight wins this year.
Not one has come against a team with a record above .500.
– Charles Hudon is now tied for the rookie lead
in points. He also sits in a tie for 5th overall in AHL scoring.
– Magnus Nygren’s offence is starting to come
around. The Swedish blueliner now has six points in his last seven games.
– Lines from the most recent game:
Tangradi – Hensick – Hudon
Carr – Andrighetto – Dumont
Sorkin – de la Rose – Dowell
Nevins – Macenauer
Tinordi – Pateryn
Drewiske – Nygren
Finley – Dietz
Utica 3, Hamilton 2
Hamilton 2, Toronto 1 (OT)
Hamilton 5, Toronto 1
|20||Jacob de la Rose||3||0||1||+2||3||0|
Goals: Sven Andrighetto (7)
Assists: T.J. Hensick (13)
Points: Charles Hudon (18)
+/-: Charles Hudon (+11)
PIMS: Joe Finley (61)
Shots: Sven Andrighetto (56)
November 28: Hamilton vs Lake Erie
November 29: Lake Erie vs Hamilton
In the last two weeks, we’ve seen
GM Marc Bergevin make a pair of trades for defencemen. Naturally, the
thinking is what is the next move to be made? Right now, a popular thought
seems to be that a trade of Tom Gilbert should be next on the agenda. I
know he’s not the most popular of players but I don’t think that’s the best of
Through the first quarter of the
season, the Habs have been extremely healthy on the blueline with a grand total
of three games lost to injury. As a result, the extra depth looks
excessive. The injuries will come and the logjam that exists now will go
away. Come trade deadline time, half the teams in the league are going to
be looking for defensive depth and as always, some will pay a premium. If
they move Gilbert now, they’ll be trying to add a replacement in a few months so
they may as well just keep Gilbert (and the asset(s) used to acquire his
His contract isn’t a disaster
either. If he’s playing a regular role in the lineup, $2.8 M can’t be too
exorbitant of a price and it’s up after next season if he really struggles.
Dealing him would also have the Habs with just three blueliners under contract
for next year with the free agency pool not being particularly deep.
That’s not an ideal situation to have heading into next summer.
This isn’t to say that Gilbert
should be untouchable. If the right deal presents itself to get better or
fill a big hole, then of course you do it. Dealing him for the sake of
dealing him (or to give one of Beaulieu or Tinordi a higher paycheque as the
seventh NHL d-man) isn’t really enough of a reason to justify getting rid of him
though. There’s a long way to go this year and the better and deeper the
defence corps is, the better.