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The past week was a bit of a mixed bag for the Habs who picked up a road win to end their trip on a high note before suffering a pair of losses, one ugly and the other on the heels of an impressive comeback.

The Week That Was

Nov. 29: Canadiens 4, Blue Jackets 2 – Montreal got off to a sloppy start in this game that had them on their heels.  Both teams traded a pair of goals in the second period and it remained tied at two late in the third before Joel Armia made his mark.  In his first game since being recalled, he tipped home a Mike Matheson point shot with just under three minutes to go while Gustav Lindstrom sealed the win with an empty-netter.

Nov. 30: Panthers 5, Canadiens 1 – Following a scheduling oddity that had the Habs playing on the back half of a back-to-back set after a six-game road trip, Montreal kept it competitive through two periods.  They were only down 1-0, Cayden Primeau was doing well, and it looked like they had a chance.  Then the wheels came off.  Sam Bennett scored eight seconds into the third and things snowballed from there with Primeau getting beat glove-side four times and the home side’s effort level going down quickly.

Dec. 2: Red Wings 5, Canadiens 4 (OT) – The Habs once again got off to a slow start and this time, they paid for it with Detroit scoring three goals in the first.  However, some of Montreal’s supporting cast helped get them back into it with Armia scoring shorthanded and Justin Barron adding one late in the first.  After Nick Suzuki made it a one-goal game in the third, Gustav Lindstrom tied it up, scoring against his former team to send the game to overtime.  The Red Wings controlled the very short extra session with Jake Walman potting the game-winner in the first minute.



# Player GP G A +/- PIMS SOG ATOI
8 Mike Matheson 3 0 3 +1 2 2 25:00
11 Brendan Gallagher 3 0 0 E 2 3 13:44
13 Mitchell Stephens 1 0 0 E 2 2 8:17
14 Nick Suzuki 3 1 2 -1 0 8 19:52
15 Alex Newhook 2 1 0 E 0 2 15:03
17 Josh Anderson 3 0 1 -2 7 4 14:52
20 Juraj Slafkovsky 3 0 1 -2 0 2 14:15
21 Kaiden Guhle 3 0 1 -2 2 5 22:35
22 Cole Caufield 3 1 1 -1 2 7 17:16
26 Johnathan Kovacevic 3 1 0 E 2 2 17:51
27 Gustav Lindstrom 3 2 0 +2 2 5 16:42
28 Christian Dvorak 3 0 1 -1 0 2 15:16
40 Joel Armia 3 2 0 +2 0 8 15:35
47 Jayden Struble 3 0 0 E 0 4 12:20
52 Justin Barron 3 1 1 -3 0 7 21:23
56 Jesse Ylonen 3 0 0 -2 0 6 10:28
70 Tanner Pearson 3 0 0 E 0 6 10:30
71 Jake Evans 3 0 2 +3 0 3 16:04
91 Sean Monahan 3 0 0 -1 2 5 18:11


# Player Record GAA SV% SO
30 Cayden Primeau 0-1-0 5.00 .828 0
34 Jake Allen 0-1-0 4.93 .848 0
35 Samuel Montembeault 1-0-0 2.00 .929 0

Team Leaders:

Goals: 3 tied with (7)
Assists: Matheson/Suzuki (13)
Points: Nick Suzuki (20)
+/-: Jake Evans (+6)
PIMS: Arber Xhekaj (47)
Shots: Cole Caufield (87)

News And Notes

– Alex Newhook suffered a high ankle sprain against Florida and will be out for the next 10 to 12 weeks, taking another young core piece out of the lineup for an extended stretch.  Mitchell Stephens was brought up from Laval to take his place on the active roster.

– David Savard and Arber Xhekaj have resumed skating so the back end could get a bit of reinforcements in the next week or two.

– Samuel Montembeault signed a three-year contract extension which carries a cap hit of $3.15 million and begins next season.  That should take his name out of trade speculation moving forward.

– Gustav Lindstrom is now once again waiver-eligible as he has played in 11 games (a player has to clear again after 10).  On it’s own, that might not seem like much but he does have three goals in those contests which could make him more of a candidate to be claimed when the time comes to send him back down.

Last Game’s Lines:

Caufield – Suzuki – Monahan
Gallagher – Dvorak – Anderson
Pearson – Evans – Slafkovsky
Ylonen – Stephens – Armia

Guhle – Barron
Matheson – Kovacevic
Lindstrom – Struble

The Week Ahead

Monday vs Seattle – It’s fair to say that the Kraken have underachieved this season; Montreal has two more wins than they do.  However, with six extra time losses, they remain in the thick of the Western Conference playoff race.  Matty Beniers’ second full NHL season has seen him struggle as he has just 12 points in 25 games while Philipp Grubauer’s struggles in goal have continued.  Seattle will be without a pair of key veterans for this one due to injuries in Andre Burakovsky and Jaden Schwartz.

Thursday vs Los Angeles – We all know how the last game went.  It was a fundamental, systematic dismantling.  To make matters worse, this is Cayden Primeau’s next start if the goalie rotation continues which is another tough spot for him to be thrown into.  The good news?  After this game, they’re done with the Kings for the season.

Saturday at Buffalo – This was supposed to be the year the Sabres took another step forward and really pushed for a playoff spot.  It could still happen but they’ve underwhelmed offensively and struggled in their own end, rarely a winning combination.  Tage Thompson, their breakout scorer, has been out for a few weeks now while Jordan Greenway, Jack Quinn, and Zemgus Girgensons are all out of the lineup as well.  In goal, Devon Levi was recently sent down to Rochester with Ukko-Pekka Luukkonen taking over as the starter.

Sunday vs Nashville – It has been a strange stretch for the Preds since Barry Trotz took over as GM.  They got rid of their high-priced veterans, then overpaid some other ones.  They brought in an offence-first coach in Andrew Brunette despite not having an offensively-skilled team.  And the end result is that even with Juuse Saros struggling, they’re still hovering around the .500 mark.  Former Hab Michael McCarron has five points in 14 game for the Predators so far this season.

Final Thought

When a team is rebuilding as the Habs are, part of the ‘fun’ of watching a team go through their struggles is to see the development of young talent.  Look at last season when they broke in four rookie blueliners, five in the second half when Justin Barron was up.  They’re still going through their growing pains but you can see some cause for optimism.

This year, it felt like it was a slightly older young core up front that would be fun to follow.  Could Kirby Dach cement himself as a full-time centre?  That went as planned for one game at least, then he blew his knee and is done for the year.  Then there’s Alex Newhook, another slightly older young core piece.  How would he integrate himself in?  After a bit of a slow start, he was starting to establish himself and now, that process is derailed until close to the trade deadline.  Between those two, that’s a big letdown that isn’t the slightest bit their fault.

It’s hard to blame the training staff for a lot of Montreal’s injuries either.  Dach’s was a complete fluke as was Newhook’s, the trip that helped put him in the side of the Florida net notwithstanding.  It doesn’t matter who the training staff was, it would have been the same result.

That’s where it gets really frustrating.  Kent Hughes and Jeff Gorton are trying to develop a young core group up front and after making two trades to augment that group and try to shore up the trainers to avoid some of the recurring nagging stuff from last year, here we are at the same result where they don’t have much to show for their efforts.  Process matters a lot and Montreal’s process is simple enough to follow.  On the other hand, luck also matters a lot and right now, the Habs aren’t getting much of the good kind.  It’s time for that to change.