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As is often the case, Montreal’s road trip out West wasn’t the most successful in the standings.  While they had one of their best outings of the season in Vegas, that was the only point they were able to muster up.

The Week That Was

Oct. 30: Golden Knights 3, Canadiens 2 (SO) – Vegas came into the game having not yet lost in regulation time and with the Habs showing signs of sputtering in the previous week (even with some wins), this had the potential to be ugly.  It wasn’t.  The Canadiens took it to the Golden Knights in the final 40 minutes and Nick Suzuki was able to tie it up with less than five minutes left in regulation.  Montreal survived overtime (including Samuel Montembeault stopping a Jack Eichel penalty shot) but Vegas was able to get the winner in the fourth round of the shootout.

Nov. 2: Coyotes 3, Canadiens 2 – This was the opposite of the Vegas game.  This time, Montreal controlled the play early but then faded as the game went on.  They allowed another penalty shot opportunity, this time to Nick Schmaltz who scored; it was the third straight game the Habs allowed one.  That doesn’t happen very often.  Brendan Gallagher’s power play marker early in the third tied it up but Schmaltz’s second of the night on a power play of their own a few minutes later was the difference.

Nov. 4: Blues 6, Canadiens 3 – The good news for the Habs in this one is that Juraj Slafkovsky held his own on the top line and even scored on the power play.  That was about it for good stuff, however.  The defensive coverage was spotty throughout the game which gave St. Louis some good opportunities and Montembeault didn’t exactly have his best game either.  That’s a hard combination to win with.



# Player GP G A +/- PIMS SOG ATOI
8 Mike Matheson 3 0 1 -2 4 11 22:00
11 Brendan Gallagher 3 2 2 -2 0 12 15:20
14 Nick Suzuki 3 2 0 E 0 10 21:09
15 Alex Newhook 3 0 2 -4 0 4 17:37
17 Josh Anderson 3 0 0 -2 0 6 17:31
20 Juraj Slafkovsky 3 1 0 -2 2 4 15:28
21 Kaiden Guhle 3 0 0 +1 0 3 21:42
22 Cole Caufield 3 0 2 E 0 15 20:22
26 Johnathan Kovacevic 3 0 0 E 0 3 18:05
28 Christian Dvorak 1 0 0 -1 0 1 14:53
40 Joel Armia 3 0 0 -1 2 4 11:58
49 Rafael Harvey-Pinard 2 0 1 +1 0 2 10:03
52 Justin Barron 3 0 0 -1 2 1 19:24
54 Jordan Harris 3 0 0 -2 2 5 16:42
55 Michael Pezzetta 2 0 0 E 0 2 9:08
56 Jesse Ylonen 1 0 0 -1 0 1 11:28
70 Tanner Pearson 3 0 1 E 0 3 14:56
71 Jake Evans 3 0 0 -1 0 3 12:41
72 Arber Xhekaj 3 0 0 E 4 1 15:47
91 Sean Monahan 3 2 1 E 0 11 19:32


# Player Record GAA SV% SO
34 Jake Allen 0-1-0 3.12 .914 0
35 Samuel Montembeault 0-1-1 3.37 .881 0

Shootout – Skaters:

# Player G/ATT
14 Nick Suzuki 1/1
15 Alex Newhook 0/1
22 Cole Caufield 0/1
91 Sean Monahan 0/1

Shootout – Goalies:

# Player SVS/SF
35 Samuel Montembeault 2/4

Team Leaders:

Goals: Sean Monahan (6)
Assists: Cole Caufield (7)
Points: Cole Caufield (11)
+/-: Kaiden Guhle (+7)
PIMS: Arber Xhekaj (38)
Shots: Cole Caufield (47)

News And Notes

– Christian Dvorak made his return to the lineup after missing the required 10 games and 24 days while being on LTIR.  However, he took the place of Rafael Harvey-Pinard who suffered a lower-body injury against Arizona.

– To make room for Dvorak on the roster, Gustav Lindstrom was sent back to Laval.  It’s worth noting that Montreal easily could have placed Harvey-Pinard on IR, allowing them to keep seven defenders up.  The fact they didn’t do so should be interpreted as a sign that they think the youngster won’t be out for long.

– Dating back to last season, Josh Anderson has now gone 14 straight games without a goal.  This, despite playing pretty much exclusively in the top six plus receiving regular power play time.  The Habs need him to get going soon.

Last Game’s Lines:

Caufield – Suzuki – Slafkovsky
Anderson – Dvorak – Newhook
Pearson – Monahan – Gallagher
Pezzetta – Evans – Armia

Matheson – Kovacevic
Guhle – Barron
Xhekaj – Harris

The Week Ahead

Tuesday vs Tampa Bay – The Lightning aren’t having much trouble scoring goals this season but are more middle of the pack defensively.  Not having Andrei Vasilevskiy certainly makes a difference on this front as they continue to go with Jonas Johansson as their starter who, to his credit, has held his own.  Most of Tampa’s offence has come from the forwards as their back end has just two goals combined, both of those coming from Victor Hedman as former Hab Mikhail Sergachev is off to a bit of a slow start.

Thursday at Detroit – Some nights, the Red Wings have looked like true contenders while on others, they still look like a lottery-bound team.  Alex DeBrincat is off to a hot start with his new team and Dylan Larkin, armed with a true threat on his wing, is also off to a terrific start.  James Reimer has vastly outplayed Ville Husso so far in goal while Jeff Petry’s debut with his hometown squad hasn’t gone to play as he has been scratched a couple of times already.  Ben Chiarot, meanwhile, is faring a bit better but that’s a pretty low bar to clear at this point.

Saturday vs Boston – As it turns out, the Bruins’ defensive structure was repeatable after all as they are the top defensive team in the league while Jeremy Swayman and Linus Ullmark are both off to fine starts; Swayman’s numbers early on are nearly video game-like for a goalie.  While their offence has slowed down, David Pastrnak is still lighting it up while junior-aged rookie Matthew Poitras is more than holding his own in a top-six role most nights.

Sunday vs Vancouver – Under the category of ‘didn’t see this coming’, the Canucks have scored the second-most goals in the NHL and have allowed the second-fewest.  Elias Pettersson is averaging nearly two points per game, Brock Boeser has had a resurgent year after being in trade speculation for most of last season, and the one-two punch of Quinn Hughes and Filip Hronek have made their back end rather dangerous as well.  The Canucks are known to be trying to open up some cap space so keep an eye on Conor Garland who Montreal has been previously linked to in trade talks (not to keep Garland though, but to flip him).

Final Thought

Over the first month of the season, there has been a fair bit of discussion about Nick Suzuki’s slow start to the season.  Maybe it’s just me but I’m not seeing that.

Offensively, he’s scoring at a more reasonable clip of 10.3% of his shots.  That’s well below last year’s 16.0% but that was one of those unsustainable outliers.  It’s a percent or two lower than where it could reasonably expect to be but there’s plenty of time left to make that up; we’re talking about a difference of maybe a single goal here.  Assist-wise, he’s actually at the best per-game rate of his career, just ahead of the 0.49 per game he’s had the last two seasons.  From a point-per-game perspective, he’s also at a career-high slightly.

Yes, we’re still dealing with small sample sizes but I don’t think this is Suzuki having a slow start.  This is just him producing at a similar level to the last few years.  Suzuki isn’t a 30-goal, 80-point player and frankly, he’s shown little reason to think he can get there.  He’s a tier below that offensively and that’s how he’s producing early on this season.  Accordingly, I don’t think it’s a case of playing below expectations.  Instead, perhaps those expectations are a bit too high.