Montreal’s scoring woes continued this past week although they were at least able to pick up a win in spite of that. Unfortunately, Laval wasn’t able to accomplish even that as they had a mix of bad offence in one game and bad defence and goaltending in the other that contributed to a pair of losses.
Jonathan Drouin: I know he’s just coming back from an injury and the flu but he has largely been an afterthought since returning. Being the primary distributor doesn’t seem to be suiting him right now; I think he needs another puck-dominant player on his line to free up Drouin to look to get open and attack a bit more often. He has plenty of puck-handling skills but when he’s out there, it feels like Montreal relies on him to try to do too much right now.
Max Pacioretty: A single goal in 15 games isn’t going to cut it. If he’s playing hurt, it’s time to sit him down as there are other players who can provide that level of non-production. With the lack of offensive talent that this team has, they rely on Pacioretty a ton and if he’s not scoring, the Habs are rarely winning. It’s past the point of his usual up-and-down production; this is a true slump.
Carey Price: Given how his first month of the season went, I had to admit I was a little concerned that the Edmonton game last weekend was a sign that he might be heading back in the wrong direction. Fortunately, he has bounced back in a strong way by being Montreal’s best player in their last two games. You can’t really ask for too much more than that.
Goals: Brendan Gallagher (13)
Assists: Phillip Danault (13)
Points: Danault/Gallagher (19)
+/-: Nicolas Deslauriers (+7)
PIMS: Andrew Shaw (39)
Shots: Max Pacioretty (132)
The nightmarish December continues for the Rocket. In their first game, they couldn’t get a key goal late while in their second, they couldn’t get a key save. When all three facets of the team aren’t going (and they rarely have been in the last six weeks), bad things are bound to happen.
News and Notes:
– Zach Fucale didn’t dress for either game. I’d love to hear why they bothered to bring him back after two games from Brampton or why they haven’t sent Michael McNiven back to Brampton. Having Fucale sit as a healthy scratch does nothing for his development or his trade value. Unfortunately, a return trip to the Spengler Cup probably isn’t in the cards either with Canada using that tournament as another evaluation camp for the Olympics.
– Nikita Scherbak and Michael McCarron both returned to the lineup from their respective injuries. Both picked up where they left off too as Scherbak had three points in two games while McCarron picked up three minor penalties.
– Defenceman Tom Parisi had just 56 shots on goal last year. He has already surpassed that total this season with 59 which happens to rank second on the team.
– Lines from last game:
Terry – McCarron – Scherbak
Boucher – Cracknell – Gregoire
Petti – Audette – Waked
Veilleux – Eisenschmid – Baun
Taormina – Lernout
Leblanc – Juulsen
Parisi – Gelinas
December 16: Charlotte 3, Laval 1
December 17: Charlotte 7, Laval 5
Goals: Chris Terry (13)
Assists: Matt Taormina (23)
Points: Chris Terry (27)
+/-: Jeremy Gregoire (+12)
PIMS: Yannick Veilleux (50)
Shots: Chris Terry (85)
December 20: Syracuse vs Laval
December 22: Rochester vs Laval
December 23: Rochester vs Laval
Count me among the many who thought it was the right call to loan Victor Mete for the World Juniors. Not only does it guarantee him more playing time than the Habs could likely provide over these next few weeks, it will also allow them to get a better look at Jakub Jerabek and Joe Morrow. Are they okay with running with them as the sixth and seventh defenders the rest of the way? This is their time to find out.
I have to admit, I’m intrigued with the idea that Mete is also on the radar for the Olympics, assuming the CHL and Hockey Canada can work something out. If he is indeed a strong candidate to make that team, I’d be inclined to send him back to junior. Yes, it means going back to a lower level but how much time would he actually spend there? Realistically, he could wind up only playing 15 or so regular season games with London before their playoffs start in mid-March if he cracks the Olympic squad. That’s not enough time to really get into bad habits while it guarantees that the Habs would get to keep the extra year of team control. (And if London were to bow out early, he could then return to Montreal or go to Laval.) The next few months could really be a whirlwind for Mete if this winds up being the path he winds up taking but all in all, it’d be quite beneficial for his development.