It was a tough road trip on paper for the Habs as they faced off against three of the top teams in the league. Unsurprisingly, they had some struggles although they were able to pick up a victory in Tampa Bay to at least end the week on a winning note.
The Week That Was
Mar. 29: Panthers 7, Canadiens 4 – It was an eventful opening 40 minutes, to say the least. Chris Wideman opened up the scoring early on before Florida replied with four and it looked like the rout was on. However, the Habs came back with three goals in just over a minute and a half (Sergei Bobrovsky not being on his game certainly helped) including Joel Edmundson’s first of the season. But there’s a reason that Florida is one of the top teams in the league and that’s because their offence is dominant as they picked up three unanswered (one into an empty net) to skate away with the win.
Mar. 31: Hurricanes 4, Canadiens 0 – After putting up a reasonable outing in Florida, Montreal followed it up with a clunker. Carolina was nothing short of dominant through the first two periods, averaging more than a shot on goal per minute and jumping to a three-goal lead. The Habs found their skating legs in the third (and Carolina let up) but it was too little, too late.
Apr. 2: Canadiens 5, Lightning 4 (SO) – It wasn’t looking good for Montreal early on as Tampa Bay scored twice in the first, including a shorthanded marker that looked like goalie interference but wasn’t called. But Montreal pushed back with three in the second period to keep it close and a rare goal from the fourth line tied it up early in the third as Jesse Ylonen finished off what was a pretty passing play. The Habs got through overtime unscathed and Nick Suzuki had the lone goal of the shootout to give the Canadiens the victory.
Shootout – Skaters:
Shootout – Goalies:
Goals: Nick Suzuki (18)
Assists: Nick Suzuki (33)
Points: Nick Suzuki (51)
+/-: Perreault/Ylonen (+4)
PIMS: Michael Pezzetta (68)
Shots: Nick Suzuki (165)
News And Notes
– The Habs got both Ryan Poehling and Tyler Pitlick back from their upper-body injuries. Rather than send Jesse Ylonen back to Laval, the Habs opted to convert his recall to a regular one, meaning they’ve now used three of their four regular post-deadline recalls (Corey Schueneman and Justin Barron being the others).
– Jordan Harris signed his entry-level contract and as expected, the first year is being burned this season which means he’ll be a restricted free agent in the 2023 offseason. Meanwhile, they also inked forward Lucas Condotta to a one-year deal for next season.
– Mike Hoffman is in quite a slump as he has yet to score in his last 13 games. He only has three assists over that span despite averaging over 17 minutes per game.
Last Game’s Lines:
Caufield – Suzuki – R. Pitlick
Hoffman – Evans – Anderson
Byron – Dvorak – Armia
Ylonen – Poehling – T. Pitlick
Romanov – Schueneman
Edmundson – Barron
Harris – Savard
The Week Ahead
Apr. 5: vs Ottawa – The Sens are without their top blueliner in Thomas Chabot and starting goalie in Matt Murray but recently welcomed back Drake Batherson, giving their offence a big lift. Tim Stutzle’s eight points against Montreal in his young career is the most versus any opponent. Meanwhile, Victor Mete is back to being a healthy scratch after they brought in Travis Hamonic at the deadline and recalled Michael Del Zotto.
Apr. 7: vs New Jersey – Andrew Hammond made his Devils debut on Saturday and the former Hab had a tough outing, blowing a four-goal lead in the third before losing in overtime. New Jersey has lost eight of their last ten games which has Montreal getting within striking distance of catching them in the standings. Jesper Bratt is very quietly averaging over a point per game this season while Jack Hughes has lived up to his draft billing (although he was injured on Sunday against the Islanders).
Apr. 9: at Toronto – This was originally Montreal’s final game of the regular season but there will be three more weeks after this one. The Maple Leafs just got Jack Campbell back to shore up their goaltending while Jake Muzzin, who was injured against the Canadiens back in February, will return later this week. They added Mark Giordano at the trade deadline while Auston Matthews recently reached the 50-goal mark for the first time in his career.
I’m a little surprised with the hesitance to play Jesse Ylonen higher in the lineup. At a time when the Habs aren’t showing any hesitance in running out young defencemen, it’s strange that they are stapling Ylonen on the fourth line, a role he’s not exactly suited for. Perhaps it’s an evaluation for next season to see how he fits in that role but as someone that has good speed and a good shot, he has the potential to be a capable complementary player higher up in the lineup. Since they’ve now burned a third regular recall on him, it’d be a good idea to evaluate him in a more prominent role over the final few weeks of the season. I think they may be pleasantly surprised with how he does.