It was another week to forget for the Habs as they were shellacked early on and while their play improved with each game, it wasn’t enough to get back in the win column as their losing streak has hit eight straight.
The Week That Was
Nov. 26: Bruins 8, Canadiens 1 – If you were looking for a first-class example of how not to play a top team, this was it. While the Habs only allowed 24 shots in this game, many of them were of the tough variety and while both Carey Price and Keith Kinkaid struggled, they were routinely hung out to dry as well. Shea Weber had the lone goal in the losing effort.
Nov. 28: Devils 6, Canadiens 4 – Unintentionally or not, the Habs doubled down on their no defence strategy as they allowed about two weeks of odd-man rushes in one game and New Jersey scored on a lot of them. To their credit, Montreal kept clawing back but their inability to play sound defence resulted in the Devils breaking the ties rather quickly.
Nov. 30: Flyers 4, Canadiens 3 (OT) – Things were looking up when Joel Armia had a lucky goal on the opening shift of the game and the Habs held the lead for a while. However, while they improved in one key element, their nightmares in overtime continue as once again, they lost very quickly in the extra frame as Ivan Provorov went end to end for the extra point.
Dec. 1: Bruins 3, Canadiens 1 – For a little while, it looked like Armia’s early goal might be enough but a miss from Brendan Gallagher on a third period breakaway helped set the scene for a Boston comeback as they scored three in the third despite what was one of Montreal’s better performances as of late.
Goals: Armia/Gallagher (10)
Assists: Tomas Tatar (15)
Points: Tomas Tatar (24)
+/-: Mete/Weber (+6)
PIMS: Tomas Tatar (22)
Shots: Brendan Gallagher (100)
News And Notes
– Christian Folin was sent to Laval on a conditioning stint after sitting for more than a month. That assignment can last for a maximum of two weeks. Gustav Olofsson was also recalled to create a bigger logjam on the back end though that has been slightly alleviated with Victor Mete set to miss at least the next two weeks with a lower-body injury.
– Keith Kinkaid was placed on waivers with the intent of getting him to Laval to get some more game action. Cayden Primeau will serve as the backup for Carey Price until they decide Kinkaid is ready to recall.
– Matthew Peca has also been brought up as the Habs have been carrying just 12 healthy forwards on the roster over this losing stretch. Mete was placed on IR to make room for him on the roster.
The Week Ahead
Dec. 3: vs NY Islanders – The good news is that their point streak finally came to an end at 17 games. The bad news is that they’re still the stingiest defensive team in the league which doesn’t bode well for a team that needs to score a lot to compensate for their defensive concerns. If New York’s goalie rotation continues, Montreal will face Thomas Greiss on the second half of their back-to-back and he’s among the top three in GAA and SV%.
Dec. 5: vs Colorado – The Avs just got Mikko Rantanen back and Gabriel Landeskog is close to returning as well. Cale Makar is having a Calder-worthy season and they’re getting great contributions from a pair of castaways in Joonas Donskoi and Andre Burakovsky. They’re the second-highest scoring team in the league and Montreal’s defence is going to have to be a whole lot sharper than it has been if they want to have a chance.
Dec. 6: at NY Rangers – We all remembered what happened last time, a blown four-goal lead to lose in regulation. The Rangers have picked up a point in four straight games since then and just got Mika Zibanejad back but things haven’t gone anywhere near as swimmingly for the Habs. This feels like a potential spot for Cayden Primeau to start.
One of the recent criticisms of Montreal’s power play has been the deployment of some of their depth players with the extra man. In particular, Jordan Weal and Nick Cousins are drawing lots of ire. While I agree that Cousins shouldn’t be seeing much time with the man advantage, Weal should certainly be in the mix.
Although he hasn’t been the most productive in the NHL, he has a lengthy track record of offensive success on the power play at the lower levels.
|Year||Team||Total Points||PP Points||PP Points %|
Yes, those aren’t NHL numbers but that’s a pretty good track record of success. Weal has been a prolific scorer at those levels before and while no one expects that from him now, he’s good enough with the puck on his stick that with a little bit of extra time that a power play affords, he should be effective in that role with Montreal.
While it’s admittedly a small sample size, Weal is putting up one power play point per 17:51 of ice time since being acquired last season. That rate is better than Brendan Gallagher and Jesperi Kotkaniemi and even Andrew Shaw from 2018-19 as well.
There’s also the matter of running two four-forward units. That means that eight forwards need to play. Nate Thompson shouldn’t be there and neither should Artturi Lehkonen. Charles Hudon’s power play track record the last couple of years is atrocious (only Paul Byron’s is worse among those to actually record a power play point) so he shouldn’t be getting much of a look either. They’re trying to rest Phillip Danault a bit considering the other roles he fills and Cousins shouldn’t really be there either. That means that there’s ample room for Weal to be taking a regular turn on the man advantage. There are things that need to be fixed on the power play but Weal being out there isn’t one of them.