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The Habs returned home from their trip on the West Coast but things didn’t get any easier as they had three tough matchups against the top teams in the Metropolitan.  In the end, they were only able to come away with two points through a pair of shootout losses.

The Week That Was

Mar. 7: Hurricanes 4, Canadiens 3 (SO) – The Habs actually held the lead for the majority of the game after getting a pair of goals in the first and an early one in the second with two of them coming from the fourth line.  However, Jesper Fast tied it up late in the third before former Hab Jesperi Kotkaniemi buried the winner in the sixth round of the shootout.

Mar. 9: Rangers 4, Canadiens 3 (SO) – Things got off to a nice start for Montreal in this one with Kaiden Guhle returning to the lineup and scoring on the first shift of the game.  The Canadiens actually held the lead three separate times in this one with other goals coming from Alex Belzile and Josh Anderson but each time, New York tied it up within the next four minutes.  This shootout didn’t last as long with only one player scoring, Mika Zibanejad.

Mar. 11: Devils 3, Canadiens 1 – This one was Montreal’s weakest effort of the week as the Devils controlled long stretches of the game.  But even so, this was a one-goal contest for most of the third period with Jake Allen having a strong night between the pipes to keep the Habs in it until former Hab Tomas Tatar scored an empty-netter late.  Denis Gurianov had the lone goal for the Canadiens.



# Player GP G A +/- PIMS SOG ATOI
6 Chris Wideman 3 0 1 +2 2 2 9:46
8 Mike Matheson 3 0 0 -2 0 7 28:58
14 Nick Suzuki 3 0 0 -3 0 4 23:17
17 Josh Anderson 3 1 0 +1 2 6 19:58
21 Kaiden Guhle 2 1 1 -2 2 4 20:54
25 Denis Gurianov 3 1 1 E 0 8 14:41
26 Johnathan Kovacevic 3 0 0 +1 0 4 18:35
27 Jonathan Drouin 3 0 1 -1 0 1 17:46
28 Christian Dvorak 1 0 0 E 0 1 14:46
32 Rem Pitlick 3 0 2 E 2 1 14:10
44 Joel Edmundson 3 0 0 +4 0 4 17:58
49 Rafael Harvey-Pinard 3 0 0 -2 0 6 19:49
54 Jordan Harris 1 0 0 E 0 0 19:12
55 Michael Pezzetta 3 1 1 +1 0 4 8:40
56 Jesse Ylonen 3 0 0 -2 0 4 17:08
58 David Savard 3 0 0 -3 0 1 24:05
60 Alex Belzile 3 2 1 +1 2 4 10:04
67 Chris Tierney 3 0 3 +3 0 3 12:16
68 Mike Hoffman 3 1 0 E 0 7 18:17
90 Anthony Richard 2 0 0 E 2 3 9:19


# Player Record GAA SV% SO
34 Jake Allen 0-1-1 2.42 .933 0
35 Samuel Montembeault 0-0-1 2.77 .909 0

Shootout – Skaters:

# Player G/ATT
14 Nick Suzuki 1/2
17 Josh Anderson 0/1
27 Jonathan Drouin 0/1
28 Christian Dvorak 0/1
32 Rem Pitlick 1/2
49 Rafael Harvey-Pinard 0/1
60 Alex Belzile 0/1

Shootout – Goalies:

# Player SVS/SF
34 Jake Allen 3/6
35 Samuel Montembeault 1/2

Team Leaders:

Goals: Cole Caufield (26)
Assists: Nick Suzuki (28)
Points: Nick Suzuki (49)
+/-: Rafael Harvey-Pinard (+6)
PIMS: Arber Xhekaj (101)
Shots: Cole Caufield (158)

News And Notes

– Kaiden Guhle and Chris Wideman were able to return from their injuries but that’s the end of the good news.  Christian Dvorak and Jordan Harris are dealing with lower-body injuries and are listed as day-to-day.  With the team down to 11 healthy forwards, Anthony Richard was recalled from Laval on an emergency basis.

– The Habs released a few injury updates which didn’t really provide much information other than Brendan Gallagher is still three or four weeks away from returning which means he might be able to come back over the final couple of weeks.  That might seem pointless but with the team as battered up as it is, a healthy body for the final few games can’t hurt.

– Alex Belzile’s goal streak was snapped at three games on Saturday which is still pretty good for someone playing on the fourth line.  He had only one of those streaks this season in Laval.

Last Game’s Lines:

Harvey-Pinard – Suzuki – Ylonen
Hoffman – Drouin – Anderson
Pitlick – Tierney – Gurianov
Pezzetta – Belzile – Richard

Matheson – Kovacevic
Guhle – Savard
Edmundson – Wideman

The Week Ahead

Monday vs Colorado – The defending champs have moved up into a divisional playoff spot but still have a couple more teams to try to leapfrog.  Despite the firepower that they have, they’re in the bottom half of the league in goals scored even with three players producing over a point per game.  Fourth in scoring is former Hab Artturi Lehkonen who has already set a new career high in assists and points and is one goal shy of matching his output from last season.

Tuesday at Pittsburgh – The Penguins shuffled things around at the trade deadline, allowing them to add Mikael Granlund from Nashville in the hopes of keeping them in the hunt for a Wild Card spot.  They are a team that’s in the middle of the pack both offensively and defensively with their goaltending being shaky at times lately.  Former Hab Jeff Petry has had a decent rebound season with the Penguins while the other part of that trade, Ryan Poehling, is currently on LTIR.

Thursday at Florida – Things have gotten testy between these teams this season although, with Arber Xhekaj out of the lineup this time, it’ll be interesting to see if things are toned down somewhat.  The Panthers are still within striking distance of a Wild Card spot and with it, the thought of their pick having a slim chance at the #1 spot is fading.  Anthony Duclair recently returned to their lineup while Florida is leaning on Sergei Bobrovsky with Spencer Knight out indefinitely due to being in the NHL/NHLPA Player Assistance Program.

Saturday at Tampa Bay – It’s the first of a back-to-back set between the teams (with travel) and the Lightning have been sputtering as of late.  They weren’t able to add much at the deadline – just Tanner Jeannot in a swap of five draft picks and Mikey Eyssimont – and their top line was benched just last weekend for lack of effort.  This is their only game out of four of the week that isn’t against New Jersey.

Final Thought

With Northeastern’s season coming to an early end, the decision of Jayden Struble will pick up.  He’s eligible to opt for free agency in mid-August and while his overall numbers aren’t particularly appealing, the Habs should be doing everything they can to avoid that from happening.

I think Struble is a player who will fit in better as a pro than at the college level.  He plays with an edge and it’s easier to get away with that in the AHL and he’d be going from a program that’s known for playing a bit on the conservative side to one that is encouraging being more aggressive and up-tempo.  I think this would only help him from a development perspective.

Yes, if there’s one spot the Habs are well-stocked, it’s left-shot defencemen.  Would losing him really hurt their system to a significant degree?  Probably not.  But Struble is still a legitimate NHL prospect and that’s an asset I know I wouldn’t want to lose for nothing.  It’d be great if he signed a contract that started next season that would allow him to go to Laval for the stretch run but if he wants a deal that starts now (making him ineligible for the AHL), I’d bite the bullet and do so, even though I’m not sure I’d want to see him in too much NHL action over the final few weeks.  Things haven’t gone well developmentally for Struble lately but it’s not time to give up on him just yet.