The Habs quietly put up one of their better weeks of the season as they picked up three wins out of their four games despite some bumps along the way.
The Week That Was
Jan. 13: Canadiens 2, Flames 0 – The Habs came out on fire (pun intended) in this one and if it wasn’t for David Rittich, they could have had much more than just one goal (from Jordan Weal) through 40 minutes. Fortunately, Carey Price was also at the top of his game and held Calgary at bay which made Ryan Poehling’s first goal of the year enough to somewhat comfortably secure the victory.
Jan. 15: Blackhawks 4, Canadiens 1 – No one is going to mistake Charlie Lindgren for a technically-sound goalie but he was struggling more than usual in this one. His first goal allowed came when he waited too long behind the net and fell while another one saw him playing without his blocker, dropping his stick, and losing his balance entirely on the shot. This masked what was a pretty lousy effort from Montreal at a time where they can’t afford to have any of those.
Jan. 16: Canadiens 4, Flyers 1 – A night after one of their lousier efforts, the Habs put up one of their better ones in this game. Although Philadelphia scored first, they bounced back to tie it on the next shift and scored two quick ones early in the second period to get a lead that they wouldn’t relinquish. Ilya Kovalchuk had a pair of goals in the victory to get back to the point per game mark since joining Montreal while Jesperi Kotkaniemi had his first career fight (and instigator) which is something no one saw coming.
Jan. 18: Canadiens 5, Golden Knights 4 (SO) – The Habs got off to a flying start with three goals in the opening period before things started to fall apart. They were lucky to get through the second period with the lead and their third period nightmares continued as Vegas scored twice with less than two minutes to go (with an empty net) on both occasions. Fortunately for Montreal, they still managed to get the two points as Tomas Tatar made a nice move in the fourth round of the shootout which was the difference-maker.
Shootout – Skaters:
Shootout – Goalies:
Goals: Tomas Tatar (17)
Assists: Tomas Tatar (26)
Points: Tomas Tatar (43)
+/-: Phillip Danault (+15)
PIMS: Tomas Tatar (32)
Shots: Brendan Gallagher (162)
News And Notes
– The game against Vegas was number 160 in the NHL for Victor Mete. That’s not really a milestone for him but it means that for the rest of his career, he’s waiver-eligible.
– Dale Weise was papered back to Laval following Saturday’s game to stall his waiver clock. Having said that, his next game will make him waiver-eligible so if he plays after the All-Star break, the move will wind up being largely redundant.
– Nate Thompson was picking up some points here and there early on in the season but his production has fallen off a cliff lately. He has just a single goal and an assist over his last 31 games (and those two points came in the span of four days in early December).
– Artturi Lehkonen’s goal against Philadelphia was his 11th of the season (in 49 games), matching his total from last year (in 82 games).
Last Game’s Lines:
Tatar – Danault – Kovalchuk
Domi – Suzuki – Armia
Poehling – Kotkaniemi – Lehkonen
Cousins – Thompson – Weise
Chiarot – Weber
Scandella – Petry
Mete – Kulak
The Week Ahead
Jan. 24/25: All-Star Weekend – The NHL tweaked their scheduling this season and scheduled the Skills Competition for Friday and the All-Star Game for Saturday instead of the usual Saturday/Sunday. Shea Weber will be Montreal’s lone representative which makes the Hardest Shot contest worth a look at the very least.
Jan. 27: vs Washington – While this isn’t technically within the upcoming week, the game against the Capitals is Montreal’s first post-ASG contest. They’ll get to face Washington without Alexander Ovechkin who chose to sit this game out as his suspension for not going to the All-Star Game. Considering he had a hat trick on Saturday (the other option for him to sit out), I think he made the right decision.
Recent reports have suggested that the upcoming week is when GM Marc Bergevin is going to decide whether to be a buyer or a seller ahead of next month’s trade deadline. My question is why?
The prudent move would be to research all of your options. What is the market for players like Tomas Tatar and Jeff Petry? What about the depth rental players? It’s useful to find that out but it’s also useful to see what the buyer cost would be if the Habs go on a winning streak after the break and get some good luck with other teams. Why set the direction now? Do the research on both ends so that you’re poised to strike either way. Fortunately, Bergevin’s reputation is that of being someone who does his homework in terms of trade discussions with other teams so here’s hoping he lives up to that over the coming weeks.