The Habs had a chance to bank some much-needed points in the standings against a trio of non-playoff teams. However, they failed to take advantage of the weaker schedule as they only managed a single point while ending the week on a low note.
The Week That Was
Nov. 19: Blue Jackets 5, Canadiens 2 – Poor defensive starts have hurt the Habs lately and this was the case here as they were down before the 90-second mark of the game. However, they were up at the midway point and were tied in the third period before it all fell apart. The game-winning goal wound up being one that will be seen on the blooper reel throughout the season and Montreal couldn’t muster up much after that.
Nov. 20: Senators 2, Canadiens 1 (OT) – Montreal came out with a lot of jump in this one but weren’t able to beat Craig Anderson aside from a power play marker from Nick Suzuki. Jean-Gabriel Pageau scored his usual goal against the Canadiens while Brady Tkachuk picked up the winner early in overtime on a bit of a defensive miscue (something that seemed to be a theme for the week).
Nov. 23: Rangers 6, Canadiens 5 – This had the makings of a potential rout early on as the Habs established a 4-0 lead in the second period. However, they completely fell apart defensively from there to have one of their worst blown leads in team history. On the plus side, the revamped Max Domi line showed some early promise as that trio picked up four of the five Montreal goals.
Goals: Brendan Gallagher (9)
Assists: Tomas Tatar (13)
Points: Tomas Tatar (20)
+/-: Victor Mete (+9)
PIMS: Tomas Tatar (20)
Shots: Brendan Gallagher (78)
News And Notes
– Charles Hudon continues to be flipped back and forth to the minors in an effort to extend his waiver exemption for as long as possible. They could also be doing it just to do him a favour to; as players in the minors aren’t subject to escrow, he makes 14% more money when he’s on Laval’s roster since he’s on a one-way deal.
– Jesperi Kotkaniemi is sitting at three points on the season in 16 games (2-1-3, 12:48 ATOI) and only one of those points – the assist – have come in the last six weeks. For comparison purposes, he was at seven points at this same point in his rookie year (2-5-7, 13:54 ATOI). A stint in Laval is something that’s probably going to be getting some consideration if this continues much longer.
Last Game’s Lines:
Tatar – Danault – Gallagher
Lehkonen – Domi – Suzuki
Hudon – Kotkaniemi – Armia
Cousins – Thompson – Weal
Chiarot – Weber
Mete – Petry
Reilly – Fleury
The Week Ahead
Nov. 26: vs Boston – The Bruins continue to comfortably sit atop the Atlantic Division with Brad Marchand and David Pastrnak leading the way offensively. They’re still missing a pair of regulars on the back end in John Moore and Kevan Miller but they just got Torey Krug back to bolster one of the strongest attacks in the league already. The Habs won’t be able to get away with the sloppiness that was in their play over the past week if they want to have a chance at this one.
Nov. 28: vs New Jersey – Their last outing should still be fresh in Montreal’s minds, one that saw the beginning of this sequence of blown leads. Taylor Hall has picked up his production as of late and MacKenzie Blackwood has taken over as the starter with Cory Schneider clearing waivers earlier in the week.
Nov. 30: vs Philadelphia – In a rare afternoon affair, the Habs catch a Flyers team that has been struggling as of late having won one of their last six games. Travis Konecny’s surprisingly strong start continues as he’s averaging a point per game for the season. Shayne Gostisbehere hasn’t rebounded offensively after a poor 2018-19 campaign as he has just one goal on the season.
Dec 1: at Boston – It’s a little weird that the Habs will have three of their four head-to-head matchups wrapped up by the start of December but that’s the case with this quirk in the schedule. The final one will be in mid-February.
I’m not one who typically likes to question a whole lot of coaching decisions. But when it comes to Montreal’s usage of goalies this past week, I’m going to.
Heading into the season, the stated goal was to reduce Carey Price’s workload. Why, then, was he playing in a back-to-back set of games? It doesn’t matter that there were two days off before the next one; if you’re not willing to play Keith Kinkaid against one of two non-playoff teams in a back-to-back situation early in the season, what’s it going to take to play him? And why did they bother spending on a backup with a bit of NHL pedigree if they have no intention to play him in these spots? Price is now on pace to play 68 games which would be the second-most of his career. He’s 32; getting close to a new career-high in games played at this stage of the game isn’t a good idea. He’s going to wear out at this rate and what’s that going to do for Montreal’s postseason aspirations? It’s not going to help them, that’s for sure.
If it were me, I’d have given Kinkaid the Columbus game. Yes, that would have meant two straight starts for him but he was coming off a decent performance against New Jersey and it’s not as if he hasn’t played two straight games before. He’s more than capable of doing that. That would have kept Price rested for the divisional matchup on Wednesday against Ottawa and while he wasn’t entirely to blame for the collapse against New York, he didn’t look too sharp as the game went on either. There may come a time late in the year where Price needs to play both ends of a back-to-back but in mid-November, it shouldn’t even have been a consideration.