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The Habs had their California portion of the schedule this past week, a stretch that typically causes them some difficulty.  While it certainly didn’t end well, they still came out of that portion of the road trip with a pair of victories.

The Week That Was

Nov. 22: Canadiens 4, Ducks 3 – Things got off to a good start in this one with Alex Newhook and Kaiden Guhle scoring less than a minute apart to give the Habs an early two-goal lead.  However, a pair of goals from Mason McTavish sandwiched a Mike Matheson marker in the second, paving the way for Frank Vatrano to tie it up in the third.  While Montreal wasn’t playing particularly well down the stretch, they were able to pick up the regulation win with Jake Evans setting up Newhook for the winner with less than four minutes left.

Nov. 24: Canadiens 3, Sharks 2 – After San Jose was blitzed once again in their previous outing, they played one of their best games of the season in this one.  It wasn’t looking good for the Habs who were down two late in the second before Johnathan Kovacevic (suddenly a goal-scorer after scoring twice last week) cut the deficit to one after 40 minutes.  From there, Cole Caufield snapped his goal drought early in the third to help get it to overtime.  From there, it was Jesse Ylonen potting a highlight-reel shootout goal to get the victory.

Nov. 25: Kings 4, Canadiens 0 – Montreal managed one shot in the first period of this game…and it was from their own zone.  Things didn’t get better from there as this was one of those games where the coaches would love to ‘burn the tape’ from.  However, given how much the Kings managed to pressure the Habs into making mistakes, this is the type of game they should be watching film of closely to try to learn from those many miscues.



# Player GP G A +/- PIMS SOG ATOI
8 Mike Matheson 3 1 0 -1 2 8 25:17
11 Brendan Gallagher 3 0 1 -1 0 6 16:45
14 Nick Suzuki 3 0 1 -1 2 3 20:40
15 Alex Newhook 3 2 0 +2 0 6 19:20
17 Josh Anderson 3 0 0 E 0 3 15:35
20 Juraj Slafkovsky 3 0 1 +2 2 6 17:21
21 Kaiden Guhle 3 1 0 -1 0 3 23:23
22 Cole Caufield 3 1 1 +1 0 12 19:02
26 Johnathan Kovacevic 3 1 0 E 0 1 15:18
27 Gustav Lindstrom 3 0 0 -1 2 2 18:31
28 Christian Dvorak 3 0 0 E 0 4 16:47
47 Jayden Struble 3 0 1 E 0 2 12:01
52 Justin Barron 3 0 1 E 2 3 21:59
55 Michael Pezzetta 3 0 0 -2 0 2 7:11
56 Jesse Ylonen 3 0 1 -2 0 2 8:10
70 Tanner Pearson 3 0 1 E 0 4 16:05
71 Jake Evans 3 0 2 -1 0 0 11:44
91 Sean Monahan 3 0 0 -1 2 3 17:25


# Player Record GAA SV% SO
30 Cayden Primeau 1-0-0 1.85 .939 0
34 Jake Allen 0-1-0 4.00 .867 0
35 Samuel Montembeault 1-0-0 3.04 .909 0

Shootout – Skaters:

# Player G/ATT
14 Nick Suzuki 1/1
20 Juraj Slafkovsky 0/1
22 Cole Caufield 0/1
28 Christian Dvorak 0/1
56 Jesse Ylonen 1/1
91 Sean Monahan 0/1

Shootout – Goalies:

# Player SVS/SF
30 Cayden Primeau 5/6

Team Leaders:

Goals: 3 tied with (6)
Assists: Caufield/Suzuki (11)
Points: Caufield/Suzuki (17)
+/-: Kaiden Guhle (+5)
PIMS: Arber Xhekaj (47)
Shots: Cole Caufield (80)

News And Notes

– Rafael Harvey-Pinard will miss six to eight weeks with a lower-body injury.  Meanwhile, Jordan Harris was sent home from the road trip with a lower-body injury of his own while Arber Xhekaj landed on IR with his upper-body injury.

– As a result, Jayden Struble, Mattias Norlinder, and Joel Armia were all recalled from Laval although only Struble actually saw any game action.

– Most know that Struble picked up his first career NHL point in the victory over San Jose.  What some don’t know is that Cayden Primeau also picked up his first NHL point in that game, assisting on Caufield’s goal.

Last Game’s Lines:

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

Matheson – Barron
Guhle – Lindstrom
Struble – Kovacevic

The Week Ahead

Wednesday at Columbus – The long road trip comes to an end against the Blue Jackets, a team that certainly has underwhelmed this season.  Their top-paid players (Johnny Gaudreau and Patrik Laine) have struggled mightily this season to the point where Laine was even made a healthy scratch recently. Adam Fantilli, the third pick back in June, has been shifted to centre, a rare occasion of an NHL team putting an 18-year-old down the middle, even if it’s his natural position.

Thursday vs Florida – The Panthers got a big boost on their back end recently with both Brandon Montour and Aaron Ekblad returning from LTIR following their respective shoulder surgeries, activations which resulted in former Hab Mike Reilly being waived and claimed by the Islanders.  Matthew Tkachuk is coming off back-to-back 40-goal seasons but is stuck at just three so far which is part of the reason they’re around Montreal’s level in terms of goals scored on the season.  That said, they should start climbing up the standings soon enough.

Saturday vs Detroit – While Alex DeBrincat has come back down to earth after a hot start, the Red Wings continue to be one of the top-scoring teams in the NHL.  They’re one of the few teams still carrying three goalies with third-stringer Alex Lyon doing well in a couple of recent starts while on the back end, newcomer Shayne Gostisbehere leads the way offensively with 18 points in 19 games, a strong start to what is a pillow contract for him.

Final Thought

If it wasn’t for bad luck, Josh Anderson would have no luck at all.  21 games into the season and he has as many goals this season as I do.  I don’t think anyone, even his biggest detractors, would have seen that coming.

The frustrating thing is that it’s not as if Anderson is playing demonstrably worse or even different than normal.  He’s shooting around the same clip as usual (two shots on goal per game around 3.6 attempts) so it’s not as if he’s much weaker than normal on that front.  He has had plenty of high-quality chances, some of which should have gone in by now.  And while the rest of his game can be lacking at times, that was the case in the past as well; this slump isn’t leading to poorer performance in other areas.

This has presented a bit of a conundrum for Martin St. Louis.  Performance matters most and considering he hasn’t scored, he certainly isn’t delivering in that respect.  But the process, which also matters to a coach, is the same as always.  The current version of Anderson is no different than the one from last year or the year before that.  That makes a benching a lot harder to justify which is why he’s still seeing pretty heavy minutes despite not scoring and the logic makes sense to me.

I don’t know how much Anderson can do differently at this point.  He isn’t changing his style of play at this point of his career, one that is usually relatively effective at least.  All the Habs can hope for at this point is that he gets a lucky bounce to go his way and land in the opposition net and that a streak of good luck will come his way to offset the bad.  Hoping for luck isn’t much of a strategy but in Anderson’s case, there’s not much more they can really do; benching him would hurt more than it helps.