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The Habs officially kicked off the second half of their season this past week.  They ended the first half on a losing note and started out the second half the same way in a week that saw them struggle to score.

The Week That Was

Jan. 10: Flyers 3, Canadiens 2 (SO) – Montreal was fortunate to be up after the first period, one in which they only had two shots, scoring on both of them.  While they started to shoot more often, they weren’t able to muster up much against an aggressive Philadelphia defence.  Morgan Frost tied it up midway through the second and that was it for offence until the shootout after Cayden Primeau kept them alive in a rough overtime.  Sean Couturier had the only goal in the shootout to give the Flyers the extra point.

Jan. 11: Sharks 3, Canadiens 2 – After a rough outing, it would have been fair to expect the Habs to bounce back against a team that has struggled mightily lately.  It didn’t happen.  Going down 2-0 in the first had them chasing the game early, even after Brendan Gallagher got one back late in the frame.  Basically, they saved their best for the final five minutes of the game.  They did well in that stretch, scoring once to make it interesting but ultimately came up short in the end.

Jan. 13: Oilers 2, Canadiens 1 (OT) – This was Montreal’s best effort by a considerable margin.  They did well holding the high-octane Edmonton attack at bay and even scored a rare power play goal.  However, penalties got them chasing the game in the third and after killing off one that ran into overtime, they took another one in the extra session, allowing Evan Bouchard to get the winner.



# Player GP G A +/- PIMS SOG ATOI
8 Mike Matheson 3 0 3 E 2 10 26:36
11 Brendan Gallagher 3 1 0 -1 4 7 14:41
13 Mitchell Stephens 3 0 0 E 0 1 8:22
14 Nick Suzuki 3 0 1 E 0 4 21:57
17 Josh Anderson 2 1 0 E 2 6 17:31
20 Juraj Slafkovsky 3 0 1 E 0 1 19:10
21 Kaiden Guhle 3 0 1 +1 0 5 20:07
22 Cole Caufield 3 1 1 -1 0 15 19:41
26 Johnathan Kovacevic 1 0 0 E 0 0 14:00
40 Joel Armia 3 0 0 E 2 1 14:14
47 Jayden Struble 3 0 0 -2 0 2 17:58
49 Rafael Harvey-Pinard 2 0 0 -1 0 2 14:47
51 Emil Heineman 1 0 0 +1 0 0 12:39
52 Justin Barron 2 0 1 E 0 5 17:47
54 Jordan Harris 3 0 0 -1 4 3 15:48
55 Michael Pezzetta 3 0 1 +1 0 0 7:10
56 Jesse Ylonen 3 0 0 +1 2 1 10:54
58 David Savard 3 1 1 -1 2 5 21:51
71 Jake Evans 3 0 0 -2 2 2 18:50
89 Joshua Roy 3 0 0 E 0 0 13:03
91 Sean Monahan 3 1 0 +1 0 8 18:31


# Player Record GAA SV% SO
30 Cayden Primeau 0-0-1 1.85 .949 0
35 Samuel Montembeault 0-1-1 2.55 .934 0

Shootout – Skaters:

# Player G/ATT
14 Nick Suzuki 0/1
22 Cole Caufield 0/1
56 Jesse Ylonen 0/1

Shootout – Goalies:

# Player SVS/SF
30 Cayden Primeau 2/3

Team Leaders:

Goals: Caufield/Suzuki (12)
Assists: Nick Suzuki (23)
Points: Nick Suzuki (35)
+/-: Johnathan Kovacevic (+6)
PIMS: Arber Xhekaj (47)
Shots: Cole Caufield (153)

News And Notes

– The Habs weren’t able to sneak Gustav Lindstrom through waivers a second time as Anaheim claimed him earlier in the week.  While it’s never ideal to lose a player for nothing, it did open up a roster spot for the return of Rafael Harvey-Pinard while allowing them to carry 13 forwards and seven defencemen.

– Emil Heineman was sent to Laval after Thursday’s game while Joshua Roy was recalled late Friday.  With Josh Anderson day-to-day, Roy made his NHL debut against the Oilers.

– Brendan Gallagher has taken 15 minor penalties so far this season.  Eight of those have been in the third period.  Of those eight, four have come in the final five minutes, putting the Canadiens shorthanded several times in late-game situations.  The most recent of these came versus Edmonton.

Last Game’s Lines:

Caufield – Suzuki – Slafkovsky
Harvey-Pinard – Evans – Gallagher
Roy – Monahan – Armia
Pezzetta – Stephens – Ylonen

Matheson – Guhle
Struble – Savard
Harris – Kovacevic

The Week Ahead

Monday vs Colorado – The Avs find themselves in a tight battle for the Central Division lead.  As expected, they’re quite productive offensively (ranking second in the NHL) but iffy goaltending has them in the middle of the pack in the goals allowed department.  (Jake Allen could help them but the fact he’s signed through next season makes a move a lot more difficult.)  Jonathan Drouin is on quite a run at the moment with 16 points over his last 15 games after starting the year with just eight in his first 26 contests.

Wednesday at New Jersey – If there was ever a good time to face the Devils, this might be it.  Jack Hughes, Timo Meier, and Dougie Hamilton are among the long list of injured players while third-string netminder Nico Daws has basically become their short-term starter due to Vitek Vanecek’s struggles.  Luke Hughes and Simon Nemec – two rookies –  are both playing big minutes on the back end while former Hab Tyler Toffoli is on pace for another 30-goal year.

Thursday at Ottawa – It’s safe to say this season is going nowhere fast for the Sens who find themselves battling for the league basement instead of a playoff spot.  Jacques Martin hasn’t been able to stabilize things on the defensive side of things and for the firepower they have, they’re in the middle of the pack.  Anton Forsberg is now on LTIR so this is Joonas Korpisalo’s net for the next while; he has a save percentage of just .884 in the first season of a five-year contract.

Saturday at Boston – The Bruins just keep cruising along and it’s not just because of their top-level goaltending as they’re a top-ten team offensively even with just one point-per-game player as David Pastrnak continues to light it up.  They’ve been a speculative landing spot for Sean Monahan for a while and the absence of rookie Matthew Poitras (shoulder) has thinned out their depth down the middle even more.

Final Thought

TSN’s Darren Dreger suggested during the week that Sean Monahan could be among the first forwards to be dealt between now and the March 8th trade deadline.  (Not the first as some are claiming was the case.)  For me, that wasn’t the most notable part of his report.

For me, the most interesting part is that the two sides reportedly agreed when he re-signed that he’d be moved to a contender, perhaps to the team of his choice.  That’s noteworthy on two fronts.  First, it suggests that the idea of a longer-term arrangement isn’t particularly likely.  Second, if Monahan has the potential to have a say in where he goes – even without formal trade protection – the Habs might not be expecting a first-round pick for his services.  If they thought they were getting that type of return, they wouldn’t have verbally discussed the possibility and he’d go to the highest bidder.

What I expect to happen with Monahan is that there will be a cluster of similar offers.  I suspect they will involve what’s likely to be a late second-round pick (these will be contending teams going after him, after all) and a secondary piece (think a mid-round pick two or three years out) to the point where the offers are all pretty much of equal value and if that’s the case, they’ll let Monahan choose his destination.  Teams have done this with some veteran players over the years; even Montreal has done it a time or two before.

But even with Dreger’s suggestion, I don’t think a trade is imminent.  Teams with cap space are still jockeying to keep enough free to add at the deadline while ones in LTIR with fixed room (the same now as it will be a month from now) will want to make sure he’s healthy closer to the deadline before trading for him.  While fans want to make sure they get something for Monahan this time around, I think they’ll have to be patient for a little while longer.