HabsWorld.net -- 

Defence was most certainly not the name of the game for the Habs this past week.  They allowed an average of more than six goals per game and somehow managed to win one of them along the way.

The Week That Was

Mar. 13: Avalanche 8, Canadiens 4 – The game got off to pretty much the worst start possible for Montreal as they allowed four goals in the first 16 minutes of a game, getting them back on their heels early.  Two of those came from Artturi Lehkonen in his first game back since the trade although it didn’t end well for him as he broke his finger that could keep him out for the rest of the regular season.  The Habs at least made it respectable briefly in the third with goals from Jesse Ylonen and Mike Matheson cutting the deficit to three at the time but that’s as close as they got.

Mar. 14: Canadiens 6, Penguins 4 – This time, it was the Habs scoring four times in the first period (after Pittsburgh popped a pair first) which helped chase Tristan Jarry from the game early.  The Penguins tied it up in the second before Montreal got the winner from an unlikely source as Justin Barron set up Anthony Richard with a perfect pass for a breakaway that the rookie buried for his second career NHL goal and first game-winner.

Mar. 16: Panthers 9, Canadiens 5 – This one was wacky, to put it lightly.  The Habs scored on their first three shots of the game which is basically unheard of.  Also basically unheard of is allowing seven goals in barely 13 minutes which is what Montreal did with several of them being of the stoppable variety.  Eventually, both teams rediscovered the concept of defence and the second half of the contest actually resembled a hockey game but by then, the damage had more than been done. 

Mar. 18: Lightning 5, Canadiens 3 –  Montreal actually led for a good chunk of this one despite being outplayed for long stretches.  Denis Gurianov and Jesse Ylonen scored in the second period to get the lead back but Tampa Bay was able to respond with three unanswered in the third to pick up the win. 



# Player GP G A +/- PIMS SOG ATOI
6 Chris Wideman 2 0 1 E 10 1 14:17
8 Mike Matheson 4 2 2 -3 2 10 22:54
14 Nick Suzuki 4 0 4 -2 15 7 21:25
17 Josh Anderson 4 2 3 -1 4 10 18:58
21 Kaiden Guhle 3 0 1 -3 4 2 18:47
25 Denis Gurianov 4 3 0 -4 0 9 16:21
26 Johnathan Kovacevic 4 0 2 -3 10 3 19:18
27 Jonathan Drouin 3 0 4 E 0 4 15:47
32 Rem Pitlick 4 1 1 E 0 2 12:59
44 Joel Edmundson 4 1 2 +4 0 5 19:48
49 Rafael Harvey-Pinard 4 1 1 -2 2 2 18:38
52 Justin Barron 3 0 4 +2 2 4 16:23
55 Michael Pezzetta 4 1 0 +2 9 3 9:02
56 Jesse Ylonen 4 3 0 -4 0 3 14:01
58 David Savard 4 0 2 -4 0 4 21:42
60 Alex Belzile 4 0 2 E 6 5 14:54
67 Chris Tierney 4 0 1 -1 2 1 13:37
68 Mike Hoffman 4 2 1 -2 2 13 16:05
90 Anthony Richard 4 2 1 E 2 4 10:13


# Player Record GAA SV% SO
34 Jake Allen 0-2-0 15.84 .636 0
35 Samuel Montembeault 1-1-0 4.03 .896 0

Team Leaders:

Goals: Cole Caufield (26)
Assists: Nick Suzuki (32)
Points: Nick Suzuki (53)
+/-: Rafael Harvey-Pinard (+4)
PIMS: Arber Xhekaj (101)
Shots: Josh Anderson (163)

News And Notes

– Kaiden Guhle suffered a lower-body injury against the Panthers.  While he was able to stay in the game, he was out against Tampa Bay, resulting in Chris Wideman (who’s believed to be playing through an injury of his own), to return to the lineup.  On the good news side, Justin Barron was able to return from his upper-body injury.

– Last season, Josh Anderson had 32 points in 69 games.  So far this season, he’s at 32 in 68 contests.  If nothing else, he’s consistent.

– The pre-deadline trade with Dallas appears to be working well for both sides.  Denis Gurianov has five goals in 11 games with the Habs, one more than Evgenii Dadonov did in 50 contests with the Canadiens.  Meanwhile, Dadonov has eight points in 11 games with the Stars compared to Gurianov putting up just nine in 43 contests before the swap.

Last Game’s Lines:

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

Matheson – Savard
Edmundson – Barron
Kovacevic – Wideman

The Week Ahead

Tuesday vs Tampa Bay – After finishing the road trip in Tampa Bay, the Habs return home to…play them again.  They should see Andrei Vasilevskiy this time around instead of Brian Elliott and that’s about it for what should be different for them compared to Saturday’s matchup.  They’re still looking for a goal from their two trade deadline acquisitions; Tanner Jeannot has three assists in 11 games while Mikey Eyssimont is pointless in eight.

Thursday at Boston – The Bruins have scuffled a bit the last couple of weeks having lost three games in regulation.  That doesn’t sound like much but when you consider they’d only lost eight in regulation in the entire season before that point, it’s at least notable.  They’re down a couple of wingers right now in Taylor Hall and Nick Foligno which resulted in them adding Tyler Bertuzzi at the trade deadline just days after picking up Dmitry Orlov from Washington.

Saturday vs Columbus – Finally, a game that the teams should at least be somewhat evenly matched.  It has been a tough year for the Blue Jackets whose injury list has been quite lengthy at times this season.  They’re currently without starting goalie Elvis Merzlikins who is overseas for a family matter so they’re running their AHL tandem at the moment.  Johnny Gaudreau has had a decent first season with Columbus, coming in at just under a point per game.

Final Thought

The biggest news of the week came when Martin St. Louis voiced some unhappiness with Jonathan Drouin being late for a team meeting while having an intention.  Naturally, with how things have gone on the injury front this season, even something like that couldn’t go as planned.  Kaiden Guhle’s injury made it so that Drouin had to be dressed so he got to suffer the additional frustration of sitting on the bench for the entire game.

Was that extra embarrassment too much?  Some think so but I’m not in that camp.  It’s not as if this came as a surprise to anyone; St. Louis had pretty much made it clear he wasn’t playing the day before.  Yes, the TV cameras panned to him on the bench a couple of times.  Guess what?  Had he been in the press box, the cameras would have found him there too.  But the end result was still the same, Drouin wasn’t playing no matter what.  I don’t think there really should have been an extra layer of embarrassment here.

Could they have waited until they were back home to bench him?  In theory, yes.  However, that means that they would have had to burn one of their two remaining regular recalls as a team-imposed suspension doesn’t count for creating an emergency situation to get a recall that doesn’t count against the limit.  Is it worth burning one of those to spare Drouin’s feelings (which may not even have really been affected by having to serve his suspension on the bench in uniform instead of in a suit in the press box)?  From an organizational perspective, the answer is a clear no. 

By doing this, St. Louis sent a clear message to his team about what happens when his ‘non-negotiables’ aren’t met.  In the long run, they’ll be better off for it by dealing with this right away over waiting for a more optimal situation.  Now, the story is over with and they don’t have to burn a recall and potentially hurt Laval’s playoff push.  I think that’s the best outcome here for the team.