It was an up-and-down week for the Habs who had enough in the tank offensively to score themselves into a couple of wins despite poor goaltending while struggling to produce much offence in their other two games. In St. John’s, the IceCaps picked up three of four points as they played their first home games in nearly a month.
Ryan Johnston: Did his play against the Jets finally convince the coaches that he is not a better option than Zach Redmond? After getting a 7-3 lead, Johnston’s next two shifts led to a goal allowed (on a mistake by the rookie) and a needless penalty. As a result, he was benched for the rest of the game, save for a short shift for him to get from the penalty box to the bench. If he can’t be trusted in a three goal game in the third period, why is he still up with the team? I know they need an extra body but there are more competent and capable options in the minors to choose from.
Tomas Plekanec: Based on his early season play and his finish last year, this recent offensive hot streak is probably just a short-term thing but it’s nice to see he still has some offensive skills to work with. At the very least, it helps makes his line more of a threat in the attacking zone and if they are looking to move him, that type of performance can’t hurt either. He has even been much better at the faceoff dot lately as well, winning a little over 58% of his draws in the last eight games.
Andrew Shaw: Maybe he needs to go through the baseline concussion test again as I’m not sure which team he thinks he’s playing for after doing so much to undermine Montreal’s chances on Saturday. The goalie interference was unnecessary – yes, he was pushed in but he made no effort to avoid and actually looked like he wanted to make Antti Raanta feel it. And his hit on Jesper Fast – whether or not you agree it was worthy of just two or five and a game – was completely unnecessary, reckless, and dangerous either way. He plays on the edge of the proverbial line and crosses it quite frequently (way too much for my liking, by the way). There’s another line he has crossed several times this season, the one that turns him from an asset for the Habs to a major liability. He was in the latter category once again in his return.
Goals: Max Pacioretty (20)
Assists: Alexander Radulov (22)
Points: Max Pacioretty (37)
+/-: Shea Weber (+19)
PIMS: Andrew Shaw (80)
Shots: Max Pacioretty (137)
For the first time in nearly a month, St. John’s had a home game as they hosted the conference-worst Wolf Pack for a pair of games. After dropping an overtime game on Friday, they took home the victory the next night.
News and Notes:
– Winger Charles Hudon has resumed skating and the team is hopeful he’ll be back in the lineup sometime this coming week. Also on the injury front, Connor Crisp has recovered from his upper body injury and has been sent to Brampton (ECHL). Also joining him was defenceman Reggie Traccito, who was released from his PTO deal.
– Centre Jacob de la Rose was recalled on Sunday afternoon. However, they’re getting a replacement right away as winger Chris Terry cleared waivers and was sent down.
– In Saturday’s victory, goalie Yann Danis became just the 16th goalie in AHL history to play in 400 career games and also the 14th to record 200 wins.
– Lines from last game:
Matteau – Audette – Scherbak
Veilleux – de la Rose – Friberg
Broll – Gregoire – Farnham
Camara – MacMillan – Ranger
Brouillette – Lernout
Parisi – Hanley
Samuelsson – Didier
|20||Jacob de la Rose||2||0||1||E||4||2|
Goals: Hudon/Scherbak/Terry (10)
Assists: Chris Terry (16)
Points: Chris Terry (26)
+/-: Brett Lernout (+7)
PIMS: Stefan Matteau (83)
Shots: Sven Andrighetto (62)
January 17: Utica vs St. John’s
January 18: Utica vs St. John’s
January 21: Albany vs St. John’s
January 22: Albany vs St. John’s
With many paying attention to the fact that the Habs continue to pull out wins despite their recent rash of injuries, another troubling situation has come to the forefront – the penalty kill. To put it nicely, it has been absolutely terrible lately. Granted, injuries to players like Andrei Markov certainly don’t help, nor does the current struggles of Carey Price but that doesn’t account for all of the problems.
In Montreal’s last eleven games, they have allowed at least one power play goal in ten of them, posting a success rate of just 66.7% in that span. As a result, they’ve dropped all the way down to 24th league-wide with a success rate of just 78.3%. This is a team that has several forwards and defensemen capable of playing well in their own end but for whatever reason, they’re not getting the job done right now.
While the power play is getting a lot of attention right now, especially as they start to reintegrate players back into the lineup, their play while shorthanded may be the more important of the two special teams units to shore up in the second half of the season. Playing a bit more aggressively instead of sitting back and waiting to be opportunistic seems like a good place to start.