California is not a fun place for the Habs and this past week was no exception for Montreal as they failed to pick up a win. Things were a bit better for the IceCaps split a pair of games against one of the better teams in their conference. Plus, the World Cup preliminary rosters are out; my Final Thought discusses the most notable omission from the Canadiens.
Cheers and Jeers
1) Alex Galchenyuk. There weren’t many bright spots for the week but it was refreshing to see Galchenyuk be more aggressive with his shot and get rewarded for it. He also didn’t hurt his cause for more playing time at centre with his performance against the Jets either.
2) Greg Pateryn. He’s holding his own after being forced into a top four situation with the injuries to Jeff Petry and Tom Gilbert. There are a lot of young players who are getting opportunities but I’d argue Pateryn’s under the most pressure. If he does well down the stretch, he’ll send the message to the team (and perhaps the rest of the league) that he’s ready for a regular #6 role. If he falters though, he’ll wind up squandering the best chance of his young career. Fortunately for him, he’s helping his cause so far.
3) Andrei Markov. A few weeks ago, he was a step (or more slow) and looked out of place. All of a sudden, he’s a model of consistency and is doing so while logging major minutes thanks to the injuries. It’s a case of too little too late but it’s still good to see him get closer to his old self.
1) The mishandling of Lucas Lessio. They didn’t make him eligible to return to the AHL this year (see the IceCaps section for the list of who was ‘papered’ down there) and they’re not playing him in the NHL either, sitting him for six straight games. While he may be a prospect on the fringes, he’s still a prospect. At a time where getting the youngsters more playing time becomes that much more important, their decision to lock him into a spare role the rest of the season is really perplexing.
2) California. Every year the Habs go there and struggle. Even at a time where losing isn’t as frustrating as it otherwise would be, it’s still painful to watch them get outclassed out there on an annual basis. Anyone else in favour of getting this trip out of the way early next season instead of near the trade deadline? If it’s going to be ugly, at least get it out of the way early.
3) Overplaying the veteran depth. Torrey Mitchell and Paul Byron are nice depth players but they don’t need to be pushing 15 minutes a game as both did this past week. If the goal is evaluation of the younger players, give them the extra shift or two and keep Mitchell and Byron more in the 10-12 minute range.
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Shootout – Skaters:
Shootout – Goalies:
Goals: Max Pacioretty (23)
Assists: P.K. Subban (44)
Points: P.K. Subban (50)
+/-: Brendan Gallagher (+11)
PIMS: P.K. Subban (75)
Shots: Max Pacioretty (247)
While a playoff push is looking less and less likely, the IceCaps did slightly improve their fortunes, taking three of a possible four points against Albany who sit 2nd in the North Division.
News and Notes:
– Forward Andrew Yogan was signed to a PTO and picked up a point in each of his first two games. He also took the penalty that gave Albany a power play late in OT on Saturday that wound up giving them the game.
– Defenceman Morgan Ellis was sent back to St. John’s on Sunday afternoon. With the team already carrying seven, it’s likely that one of Mac Bennett or Travis Brown will be returned to Brampton of the ECHL.
– Nikita Scherbak has a five game point streak going. He has a goal and six assists in that span which comes on the heels of a five game pointless streak.
– Ellis, Michael McCarron, Jacob de la Rose, and Ben Scrivens were all ‘papered’ to St. John’s just before the trade deadline and recalled immediately after, burning three of their four allowable regular recalls between now and the end of the season.
– Lines from last game:
McNally – Scherbak – Holloway
Hudon – Dumont – Friberg
Bozon – MacMillan – Ranger
Scott – Yogan – Gregoire
Dietz – Lernout
Johnston – Didier
Hanley – Bennett
Goals: Charles Hudon (19)
Assists: Bud Holloway (32)
Points: Bud Holloway (49)
+/-: Morgan Ellis (+8)
PIMS: Michael McCarron (82)
Shots: Bud Holloway (143)
March 8: Binghamton vs St. John’s
March 9: Binghamton vs St. John’s
March 12: Hershey vs St. John’s
March 13: Hershey vs St. John’s
While many thought that P.K. Subban was the biggest ‘snub’ among Habs not named to a World Cup team, Alex Galchenyuk’s omission was the one that really caught my attention. With Subban, it seems likely that Canada will bring most of their Olympic team back and given that Subban had a very minor role on that team, he wasn’t likely to be among the top four blueliners named. His omission at this time wasn’t really all that surprising.
Galchenyuk not making it out of the first group for Team North America is a bit of a head scratcher though. While his year-to-year progression has been slow at times, he still is one of the more skilled young players in the league. He’s someone that should be in the conversation for a top six role on that team and yet he wasn’t among the first eight forwards selected.
At the end of the day, I expect Galchenyuk will be on the final roster but in the meantime, this should serve as a bit of a motivator for him. He responded pretty well this past week.