While the biggest news of the week for the Habs has come off the ice, there were still three games for the Canadiens over the past seven days. As has been the theme this season, they only managed to win one of those.
The Week That Was
Nov. 24: Capitals 6, Canadiens 3 – The quest for two straight wins was denied once again as, after the Habs had a good effort against Nashville, they put up a clunker in this one. They were down 3-0 less than 15 minutes in and that’s a hard deficit to come back from for any team, let alone one that struggles to score two. To Montreal’s credit, they briefly made it interesting when Cole Caufield’s first of the season late in the second period made it a 4-2 game but Tom Wilson quickly erased any comeback hopes with an early marker in the third.
Nov. 26: Sabres 4, Canadiens 1 – Samuel Montembeault’s first start as a Hab was in Buffalo and it didn’t go well. This one didn’t go much better for him although it was another defensive nightmare as well. Josh Anderson had Montreal’s only goal in the first and the turning point came when Jake Evans drew a four-minute penalty, giving the Habs an extended power play in the second when they were down by one. They wound up down two by the time the four minutes were up and any shot at a comeback was basically dashed right there.
Nov. 27: Canadiens 6, Penguins 3 – Jake Allen had one of his best games as a Hab in this one, making a career-high 47 saves. Montreal scored five times in the third which is a rarity. Three of those were empty-netters, also a rarity. Josh Anderson had two of those three including the game-winner while Mattias Norlinder had his first career NHL point to allow the Canadiens to salvage a victory in the week.
Goals: Josh Anderson (7)
Assists: Nick Suzuki (11)
Points: Suzuki/Toffoli (15)
+/-: Mathieu Perreault (+3)
PIMS: Brendan Gallagher (24)
Shots: Josh Anderson (59)
News And Notes
– The Habs got Jake Allen back from concussion protocol which allowed them to send Cayden Primeau back to Laval. Cedric Paquette also returned from his injury. Joel Edmundson resumed skating with the team but has been ruled out through Monday’s game against Vancouver.
– It wasn’t all good news on the injury front as Brett Kulak missed all three games due to a lower-body injury. There’s no word yet on how much longer he’ll miss. Chris Wideman also missed Saturday’s contest against the Penguins due to injury.
– Michael Pezzetta played in his tenth game which is notable as it means that he will need to go back on waivers to get back to Laval. Considering the Habs appeared to be hesitant to play him in that game (Paquette’s struggles basically forced their hand), this could wind up keeping him on the roster for the time being.
Last Game’s Lines:
Toffoli – Dvorak – Anderson
Drouin – Evans – Gallagher
Lehkonen – Suzuki – Caufield
Pezzetta – Poehling – Armia
Chiarot – Petry
Romanov – Savard
Norlinder – Niku
The Week Ahead
Nov. 29: vs Vancouver – It’s the battle of who is more dysfunctional as the Canucks have underwhelmed pretty much as badly as the Habs have this season. Elias Pettersson is off to the worst start of his career with just three goals in 21 games while Brock Boeser only has four goals. Oliver Ekman-Larsson hasn’t been the impactful defender they thought they were getting from Arizona and the end result is a roster that’s a lot better on paper than they’ve shown in the standings. It’s like looking in the mirror except you see blue and green instead of bleu, blanc, et rouge.
Dec. 2: vs Colorado – Quick, name the leading scorer for the Avs. It’s not Nathan MacKinnon (who could be back from injury for this one). It’s not his linemates in Mikko Rantanen and Gabriel Landeskog. It’s not even Cale Makar. It’s Nazem Kadri, who has 23 points in his last 12 games. Darcy Kuemper hasn’t had the start to the season many expected after coming over from Arizona which has helped lead to a slow start than expected.
Dec. 4: at Nashville – Not much has changed from their meeting two weeks ago. Matt Duchene still leads the team in scoring while Ryan Johansen is also having a resurgent season. They do have Filip Forsberg back now, giving them another weapon up front. Under the category of things you wouldn’t expect, Alexandre Carrier is their second-highest point-getter among defencemen.
We’ll have plenty of discussion on Marc Bergevin and Trevor Timmins’ departures over the coming days along with Jeff Gorton’s addition but I wanted to at least discuss Scott Mellanby’s exit as well after he tendered his resignation Saturday upon learning he wasn’t in the running for a prominent position in Montreal’s new-look front office. The problem is this – while I’d like to discuss it, I honestly have no idea how significant this is. Mellanby had been with the Habs as long as Bergevin but unlike other executives below the outgoing GM, there was no defined role for Mellanby. From what I can gather, he was a bit of a jack of all trades type of executive and a trusted advisor to Bergevin. Clearly, his reputation around the league was good enough to get him some GM interviews over the years although he never really seemed to be a finalist for any of them. For most of Montreal’s front office, I know enough about what they’ve done to have a sense of how they’ve performed. I can’t make that evaluation with Mellanby. Is it a good thing for someone who was effectively the number two executive to be that unknown publicly? (On the other hand, that’s impressive in a market like Montreal.)
Gorton probably wouldn’t have taken the job without the ability to overhaul the front office to his liking and a new top executive typically changes things up anyway so Mellanby likely wasn’t going to be part of the plans had he stayed. The way Mellanby departs is a little puzzling amidst reports that he was promised a bigger role but that only seems fitting given that his tenure, at least from the outside, was somewhat puzzling with how little was publicly revealed about his role in the first place. It’ll be interesting to see where he winds up next and if more information comes out about his departure.