HabsWorld.net -- 

The Habs didn’t have the most successful of weeks heading into the All-Star break but they were at least able to put forth two of their better efforts, one of which was overshadowed by Brendan Gallagher’s reckless and dangerous elbow which rightfully landed him a suspension.

The Week That Was

Jan. 23: Senators 4, Canadiens 1 – After getting trounced in Ottawa the week before, the change of venue didn’t do much to turn the tide for the Habs.  While the power play has been better as of late, that wasn’t the case here as Montreal went 0/5 in the first two periods while allowing a shorthanded goal on a faceoff play where several players were caught sleeping.  The Canadiens were down 2-0 before the midway mark of the first and never found their footing from there.

Jan. 25: Canadiens 4, Islanders 3 – Montreal got off to a terrific start to this one, taking advantage of an energetic arena with Patrick Roy behind New York’s bench.  They scored twice on the man advantage and three times in the first 12:19 of the first period.  They weren’t able to hold onto it though.  With eight minutes left, Brendan Gallagher decided a flying elbow was the right thing to do, earning himself a match penalty for his troubles (more on his suspension later).  The Isles scored twice on the ensuing man advantage to tie it up.  However, the Habs were undeterred and just 80 seconds after Kyle Palmieri potted the tying goal, Sean Monahan one-timed a perfectly-placed shot past Semyon Varlamov for the winner.

Jan. 27: Penguins 3, Canadiens 2 (OT) – This was Montreal’s best effort in recent weeks in terms of resembling a full-game effort and the end result was a tightly contested game.  The Habs had a pair of one-goal leads thanks to Kaiden Guhle and Juraj Slafkovsky but couldn’t hold them.  Former Hab Lars Eller scored in his 1,000th game while Sidney Crosby set up Jake Guentzel to tie it up in the third.  The Canadiens carried the play for most of overtime but Marcus Pettersson opted to keep the puck on a two-on-one and fired the winner past Jake Allen.



# Player GP G A +/- PIMS SOG ATOI
8 Mike Matheson 3 0 2 -3 4 7 25:50
11 Brendan Gallagher 2 0 0 E 15 2 12:59
14 Nick Suzuki 3 1 3 E 0 4 21:34
17 Josh Anderson 3 0 1 E 0 4 15:05
20 Juraj Slafkovsky 3 1 1 -3 0 6 15:56
21 Kaiden Guhle 3 1 0 -2 4 7 22:55
22 Cole Caufield 3 1 3 +1 0 10 18:23
26 Johnathan Kovacevic 3 1 0 +1 0 5 16:04
40 Joel Armia 3 0 0 -1 0 8 16:59
47 Jayden Struble 3 0 0 +1 2 3 17:41
49 Rafael Harvey-Pinard 3 0 0 E 2 2 12:34
54 Jordan Harris 1 0 0 E 2 0 16:29
55 Michael Pezzetta 3 0 0 E 2 1 4:54
56 Jesse Ylonen 1 0 0 E 0 0 11:27
58 David Savard 3 0 0 -1 0 1 18:38
70 Tanner Pearson 3 0 0 -1 0 1 12:45
71 Jake Evans 3 0 0 -1 2 2 19:46
72 Arber Xhekaj 3 0 0 +1 6 2 14:04
82 Lucas Condotta 2 0 0 E 0 1 5:58
89 Joshua Roy 1 0 0 -2 0 1 12:20
91 Sean Monahan 3 2 2 -4 0 11 19:40


# Player Record GAA SV% SO
34 Jake Allen 0-1-1 2.99 .900 0
35 Samuel Montembeault 1-0-0 3.00 .935 0

Team Leaders:

Goals: Cole Caufield (19)
Assists: Nick Suzuki (29)
Points: Nick Suzuki (42)
+/-: Johnathan Kovacevic (+7)
PIMS: Josh Anderson (51)
Shots: Cole Caufield (166)

News And Notes

– Kaiden Guhle’s goal against Pittsburgh was the 10,000th road goal in
franchise history.  It happened to come in the 7,000th game in franchise

– Tanner Pearson returned from his hand injury, resulting in Mitchell Stephens being waived; he cleared for the second time this season.  After they quickly realized that dressing three centres wasn’t the smartest of ideas, Joshua Roy was sent down while Lucas Condotta was recalled.  Condotta was sent down following Saturday’s game with Laval having three games before Montreal’s next one.

– The Habs also flipped a defenceman to Laval, sending Justin Barron down while recalling Arber Xhekaj. 

Last Game’s Lines:

Caufield – Suzuki – Anderson
Slafkovsky – Monahan – Armia
Pearson – Evans – Ylonen
Harvey-Pinard – Condotta – Pezzetta

Matheson – Guhle
Struble – Savard
Harris – Kovacevic

The Week Ahead

Montreal is now in its bye week ahead of the NHL All-Star Fiasco Game so other than Nick Suzuki, everyone’s off for a while.  With that in mind, let’s look at the first week back for the Habs.

Feb. 6: at Washington – For a team that has a fair amount of firepower on paper, the Capitals can’t seem to score.  Alex Ovechkin has slowed right down, Evgeny Kuznetsov is having his worst year, and even John Carlson’s numbers are way down.  Meanwhile, Max Pacioretty was injured again on Saturday after getting off to a decent start following his return.  Remember the speculation about Montreal taking on Anthony Mantha’s contract before Nicklas Backstrom landing on LTIR ended Washington’s cap crunch?  Don’t look now but he’s second on the team in goals with 15.

Feb. 10: vs Dallas – While Colorado gets a lot of attention in that division, the Stars are right behind them and boast one of the top offences in the NHL (and the top two AHL scorers, for that matter).  Jake Oettinger recently returned from his injury, marking one big change from when the Habs were there at the beginning of the month.  Dallas has been one of the teams following the Habs on the scouting front lately; it’d be interesting to know who they might be keeping an eye on.

Feb. 11: vs St. Louis – In the back half of the Super Bowl matinee, the Habs face a Blues team who is somehow hanging around in the playoff picture despite having a roster that on paper, isn’t the strongest.  The duo of Jordan Binnington and Joel Hofer have helped St. Louis be a mid-pack team defensively while they’ve been much better (12-6-1) since Drew Bannister was promoted to the interim head coach position.  Robert Thomas is someone who flies under the radar but he’s already reached the 50-point mark to pace their attack.

Final Thought

As you’ve probably heard by now, Brendan Gallagher received a five-game suspension for his elbow to the head on Islanders defenceman Adam Pelech.  It’s one that the consensus seems to be that it was on the light side.  Frankly, trying to guess along with the Department of Player Safety’s logic on these things is an exercise in futility so I’m not even going to weigh in on that element.

What really annoys me is how it came to that.  Gallagher sees Pelech coming and decides the best way to hit him is to stick the elbow out.  While I don’t think the intent was a head shot but rather a hit to the top of the chest, he still felt that an elbow, illegal at all times, was the best course of action here.  In what world does that possibly make sense?  We’re talking about a 12-year NHL veteran making that careless of a decision, not a rookie trying to find his way.  Not only was the hit dumb, but the logic that went into it was somehow even dumber.

Gallagher’s choice continued a season-long trend that Martin St. Louis has to address at some point.  Earlier this month, I noted in one of these recap columns that half of his penalties came in the third period with half of those coming in the final half of the frame.  With two more penalties this week in the final period this week (including another embarrassing one as his crusade against Tim Stutzle continued), the first ratio is higher while the second one remains the same.  We saw Arber Xhekaj’s ice time rightfully get cut after his second dumb penalty against the Islanders but where is the accountability for Gallagher?  He continues to take needless late penalties and just keeps getting put on the ice without any consequences and does it all over again.  That needs to change.  At this point, he should be in Michael Pezzetta territory in that when the games are close and the bench shortens, he doesn’t see the ice.  Right now, Gallagher is too much of a risk to put out there when the game is on the line.

For someone who’s an alternate captain and a leader on this team, the only example Gallagher seems to be setting lately is what not to do.  Considering his on-ice performance is in steep decline, an outcome everyone not named Marc Bergevin saw coming, it seems like not taking a bunch of dumb penalties is a low enough bar for Gallagher to clear successfully.  Somehow, even succeeding at that has become a challenge.  If this is where things are now, how is it going to be three years from now when he’s still under contract?  I shudder even at the thought of pondering an answer to that question.