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The Habs needed a win to start the week to keep their season alive.  Then, for good measure, they picked up the first two against Winnipeg, starting off the North Division Final on a high note while giving them their first five-game win streak since late 2017.

The Week That Was

May 31: Canadiens 3, Maple Leafs 1 – Brendan Gallagher had been pretty quiet through the first six games of the series but he scored the critical opening goal early in the second period on a shot that had no business squeaking through Jack Campbell’s pads but I don’t think anyone from Montreal minded.  Corey Perry’s power play tally late in the period gave them some breathing room heading into the third.  The Habs sat back in the final frame and Toronto was buzzing but they only got on the board after Tyler Toffoli picked up the empty-netter and the series comeback was complete.

June 2: Canadiens 5, Jets 3 – With two top goalies, the expectation was that this would be a low-scoring series.  So, naturally, the Canadiens scored twice in the first 5:10 and then each team added one before the end of the opening period.  The third period was just as frenzied in the goal department with two apiece with Montreal’s being memorable for two different reasons.  The eventual winner was scored by Gallagher who potted the rebound on a rare Shea Weber power play breakaway but unfortunately, the other one wasn’t as fun.  Just after Jake Evans wrapped the puck into the open net for his first career playoff goal (on his birthday, no less), he was hit hard by Mark Scheifele, causing a concussion.  Scheifele received a four-game suspension for the charging incident which really changes the outlook of the series.

June 4: Canadiens 1, Jets 0 – This is the type of game that many were expecting and even more so with Scheifele suspended.  Scoring chances were largely limited and both goaltenders were quite sharp all game long.  Fortunately for the Habs, they were able to beat Connor Hellebuyck once as Tyler Toffoli kept the puck on a two-on-one, delayed to get the defence out of the way, and sniped it high to open (and as it turned out, close) the scoring.  One goal rarely is enough to win but in this one, it was, giving the Habs two road victories to start the series.



# Player GP G A +/- PIMS SOG ATOI
6 Shea Weber 3 0 2 +2 4 10 25:13
8 Ben Chiarot 3 0 0 +2 0 4 26:34
11 Brendan Gallagher 3 2 0 +1 0 8 13:40
14 Nick Suzuki 3 1 1 E 0 3 16:56
15 Jesperi Kotkaniemi 3 1 0 E 4 8 12:01
17 Josh Anderson 3 0 0 E 0 4 13:01
21 Eric Staal 3 1 3 +2 0 1 12:18
22 Cole Caufield 3 0 1 E 0 7 13:32
24 Phillip Danault 3 0 1 -1 0 2 19:01
26 Jeff Petry 3 0 2 +2 0 3 24:47
32 Erik Gustafsson 3 0 2 E 0 1 8:57
40 Joel Armia 3 0 0 -1 2 5 15:45
41 Paul Byron 3 0 0 +1 2 2 14:41
44 Joel Edmundson 3 0 2 +2 0 6 22:18
62 Artturi Lehkonen 1 0 1 +1 0 1 15:49
71 Jake Evans 2 1 0 +2 2 2 17:46
73 Tyler Toffoli 3 2 1 +2 0 5 15:32
77 Brett Kulak 3 0 0 -1 0 4 11:14
94 Corey Perry 3 1 1 E 0 4 12:31


# Player Record GAA SV% SO
31 Carey Price 3-0-0 1.33 .956 1

Team Leaders:

Goals: Jesperi Kotkaniemi (4)
Assists: Eric Staal (5)
Points: Tyler Toffoli (7)
+/-: 5 players tied with (+2)
PIMS: Shea Weber (18)
Shots: Shea Weber (25)

News And Notes

– There is no word on how long Jake Evans will be out from his concussion.  He hasn’t played much in the playoffs due to injury but has been quite effective when he was in, logging heavy minutes in the final game against Toronto and the opener against Winnipeg.  Artturi Lehkonen was cleared to return from his injury and took Evans’ place in the lineup.

– Montreal had just two points from a defenceman in the first round (assists from Erik Gustafsson and Jeff Petry).  While they’re still looking for their first goal of the playoffs, they already have seven points from the back end through the first two games against Winnipeg; only Ben Chiarot and Brett Kulak have yet to reach the scoresheet.

– The Habs parted ways with three prospects this week as Joni Ikonen, Jacob LeGuerrier, and Kieran Ruscheinski weren’t signed before the June 1st deadline.  As none of the players were first-round picks, there is no compensation for them moving on.

Last Game’s Lines:

Toffoli – Suzuki – Caufield
Lehkonen – Danault – Gallagher
Byron – Kotkaniemi – Anderson
Armia – Staal – Perry

Chiarot – Weber
Edmundson – Petry
Gustafsson – Kulak

Remaining Series Schedule

Game 3: June 6 in Montreal
Game 4: June 7 in Montreal
Game 5: June 9 in Winnipeg
Game 6: June 11 in Montreal*
Game 7: June 13 in Winnipeg

* – if necessary

Final Thought

The fact that Alexander Romanov has yet to suit up in the playoffs has frustrated many.  A lot of it stems from his play down the stretch where he was a lot worse than people thought.  He tried to do way too much at the offensive zone and plays regularly died on his stick.  His defensive zone coverage was shaky, leading to some broken coverage and goals allowed.  And he had a tendency to get caught for long shifts in his own end, often as a result of the broken coverage.  That’s a dangerous combination for a head coach to trust as these are elements that can be exploited.

Having said that, Erik Gustafsson is an adventure waiting to happen in his own end although he at least brings some elements offensively to try to offset that (which is why I think he’s in ahead of Romanov).  Brett Kulak can be hit or miss and when he’s on, he’s a bit more reliable than Romanov.  When he’s off, he’s borderline unplayable but unfortunately, they don’t know which version they’re getting until after the game has started.  Jon Merrill, when healthy, brings nothing offensively but is a lot safer in his own end.

Do I think he should have had a chance by now?  I do, especially since the other options have their own flaws.  But I can understand Dominque Ducharme’s hesitance to use him based on how he finished.  However, if they’re hiding Kulak and Gustafsson by pairing them with their top guys, I think they could do the same with Romanov and get 10-12 serviceable even strength minutes out of him.  Sure, he played more than that during the season but it’s the playoffs and the top four are going to get the major ice time.  But 10-12 minutes is a little better than what they’re getting from the bottom two (I can’t even call them a pairing since they never play together).  It’s hard to adjust a winning lineup but it would be nice to see Romanov get into a game sooner than later.