The Habs started off their week with a disappointing outing against San Jose but rebounded nicely to beat Toronto and split the two home games before embarking on their Western road trip.
The Week That Was
Oct. 24: Sharks 4, Canadiens 2 – This was not Carey Price’s finest moment. He wound up allowing four goals on 14 shots through two periods (plus one that was called back on a challenged offside call) and his struggles seemed to register with the rest of the team which lacked its typical strong efforts when trying to come back. Aaron Dell got the surprise start for San Jose and played quite well.
Oct. 26: Canadiens 5, Maple Leafs 2 – The Habs got off to a strong start with a pair of first period goals before allowing yet another untimely late on at the end of the frame plus another one early in the second. However, Joel Armia and Jonathan Drouin scored on a pair of breakaways in the third to regain the lead, one they never looked back from.
Goals: Joel Armia (6)
Assists: Max Domi (7)
Points: Domi/Drouin/Gallagher (10)
+/-: Armia/Cousins/Mete (+5)
PIMS: Tomas Tatar (12)
Shots: Brendan Gallagher (42)
News And Notes
– File this one under things not many were expecting through the first four weeks of the season. Through all games played as of Saturday, Montreal sits fourth in the league in goals per game at 3.64 while they are sixth in power play percentage at 26.3%.
– On the flip side, the penalty kill has gone from acceptable to 30th in the league at 68.6% while they’re in the bottom five in faceoff percentage as well, something that wasn’t expected with Nate Thompson and Jordan Weal on the roster to start the year.
– Speaking of Thompson, he had all of eight assists last season in 78 games between the Kings and Canadiens. His helper on Saturday gives him five already this season and puts him one-third of the way to his career high already.
Last Game’s Lines:
Tatar – Danault – Gallagher
Drouin – Domi – Armia
Lehkonen – Kotkaniemi – Byron
Cousins – Thompson – Suzuki
Mete – Weber
Chiarot – Petry
Reilly – Fleury
The Week Ahead
Oct. 30: at Arizona – Montreal’s early scoring prowess will be put to the test as the Coyotes are the stingiest defensive team in the Western Conference as they allow just 2.2 goals per game. Nick Schmaltz is healthy again and off to a strong start with 11 points while Phil Kessel’s Arizona debut has been a little quieter as he has scored just twice through their first ten contests.
Oct. 31: at Vegas – The Golden Knights have been hit or miss their last six games. In their three losses over that stretch, they’ve allowed five or more goals in each of them. In their three victories, they’ve allowed just three combined. Despite a balanced and deep attack, they’ve had a bit of trouble scoring lately.
Nov. 2: at Dallas – A lineup featuring Tyler Seguin, Jamie Benn, Alexander Radulov, and Joe Pavelski up front shouldn’t have any issues getting goals on the board. However, they’re the only team averaging less than two goals scored per game. Those four have combined for a grand total of six goals this season, as many as Roope Hintz has in the early going.
One of the big discussion points this week has been Paul Byron’s slow start. Why isn’t he scoring? Is he hurt? Is he upset that he’s not getting as much top six and power play time? Personally, I think the answer is a lot more straight forward. He has lost a step, plain and simple.
Instead of being an elite skater who would use that to garner plenty of breakaways and chances close to the net, he’s now ‘just’ above average in that regard. That isn’t to say he’s slow now but he’s not among the fastest in the league anymore. All of a sudden, that speed isn’t generating anywhere near as many chances so it’s not surprising that his production is down.
Is Byron going to go the whole year without scoring? Of course not. But after seeing the dip in speed through 11 games, it’s reasonable to think he’s not going to be approaching that 20-goal mark either. At this point, he’s an undersized defensive forward first and foremost. If they want someone that’s fast with some offensive upside, perhaps it’s time to put Jordan Weal back in the lineup as he has done more than Byron has in limited action so far this season. I know it’s early but I honestly believe the days of Byron being a key cog of Montreal’s forward group are over. He can still be useful but he should more of a role player moving forward than an impact one.