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The Habs had a three-in-four set this past week and while they didn’t play all that poorly in any of them, they ultimately came up short in all three, failing to record a point while extending their losing streak to five straight.

The Week That Was

Feb. 21: Sabres 3, Canadiens 2 – For a game between two teams that don’t really have playoff aspirations, it was a pretty spirited affair.  That worked out quite well for Arber Xhekaj who scored for the second straight game and seemed to rise to the occasion on the rough stuff.  However, special teams did the Habs in as Buffalo scored a power play and a shorthanded goal in the second period, the last of which turned out to be the difference-maker.

Feb. 22: Penguins 4, Canadiens 1 – This was a game where the score isn’t indicative of how the game went.  At five-on-five, the Habs played relatively well but a lack of scoring depth did them in with the lone goal coming from the back end (Mike Matheson scored against his former team).  But Montreal is a fragile young team and paid for that in the second period when Pittsburgh scored twice in 21 seconds, creating a gap they weren’t able to recover from.

Feb. 24: Devils 4, Canadiens 3 – In a game that was uneventful for long stretches, the Habs once again did well at five-on-five in terms of controlling the play but it didn’t amount to much as they squandered a pair of one-goal leads in the second mere minutes after getting them.  Then, their penalty killing struggles came back to bite them with Nico Hischier blowing by Mike Matheson to take the lead before Jesper Bratt got past Matheson to score the eventual winner just three minutes later.



# Player GP G A +/- PIMS SOG ATOI
8 Mike Matheson 3 1 1 -3 4 8 25:13
11 Brendan Gallagher 3 1 0 -2 2 6 12:39
14 Nick Suzuki 3 2 0 -2 2 10 21:19
15 Alex Newhook 3 0 1 E 0 2 17:57
17 Josh Anderson 3 0 1 +2 4 4 14:29
20 Juraj Slafkovsky 3 0 0 -2 6 3 21:24
21 Kaiden Guhle 3 0 0 -1 0 4 21:09
22 Cole Caufield 3 0 1 -1 0 13 21:00
26 Johnathan Kovacevic 1 0 1 +1 0 0 17:18
36 Colin White 2 0 0 +1 0 2 10:33
40 Joel Armia 3 0 1 -2 0 4 14:51
47 Jayden Struble 2 1 0 E 0 1 13:38
54 Jordan Harris 3 0 0 +1 0 5 16:10
56 Jesse Ylonen 3 0 0 E 0 3 9:10
58 David Savard 3 0 1 E 0 2 18:26
70 Tanner Pearson 3 0 0 E 0 6 11:54
71 Jake Evans 3 0 1 -1 0 4 14:10
72 Arber Xhekaj 3 1 0 -1 2 5 19:03
74 Brandon Gignac 1 0 0 -1 0 0 10:58
89 Joshua Roy 3 0 2 +1 0 6 12:51


# Player Record GAA SV% SO
30 Cayden Primeau 0-1-0 3.04 .885 0
34 Jake Allen 0-1-0 4.15 .833 0
35 Samuel Montembeault 0-1-0 3.09 .870 0

Team Leaders:

Goals: Nick Suzuki (22)
Assists: Mike Matheson (35)
Points: Nick Suzuki (55)
+/-: Johnathan Kovacevic (+6)
PIMS: Arber Xhekaj (60)
Shots: Cole Caufield (221)

News And Notes

– Following the claiming of Colin White off waivers (more on that later), the Habs placed Brandon Gignac on waivers.  When he cleared on Friday, he was sent back down to Laval.

– Jayden Struble left Thursday’s game with a lower-body injury.  The team noted he is “being evaluated on a daily basis” which is a line they don’t use very often.  At this point, it’s safe to say there’s no timeline for his return despite there being some optimism that it might not be as bad as initially suspected.

– Tanner Pearson has been a speculative trade candidate since the moment he was acquired but he isn’t exactly producing enough to generate any sort of trade value.  The veteran has scored just once in his last 34 games and that goal came back in early December.

Last Game’s Lines:

Caufield – Suzuki – Slafkovsky
Roy – Newhook – Armia
Gallagher – Evans – Anderson
Pearson – White – Ylonen

Matheson – Guhle
Xhekaj – Savard
Harris – Kovacevic

The Week Ahead

Feb. 27: vs Arizona – At the midway point of the season, the Coyotes were holding onto a Wild Card spot.  Now, they’re in a ‘battle’ for positioning with the Habs in the reverse standings.  Heading into Sunday’s action, Arizona had lost 11 straight, nine of those by two or more goals.  They’re currently without starting goalie Connor Ingram and it won’t be long before two veterans – Matt Dumba and Jason Zucker – are on the move as well.

Feb. 29: at Florida – From one extreme to the next, Montreal goes from facing the coldest team to one of the hottest.  When you look at their roster, you might be drawn to their firepower but they’re actually one of the stingiest teams defensively in terms of goals allowed with Sergei Bobrovsky playing like a top goalie and backup Anthony Stolarz performing even better.  Matthew Tkachuk didn’t play in their game on Saturday due to injury but he is expected to be back by the time this game is played.

Mar. 2: at Tampa Bay – It feels like the Lightning’s run as an Eastern juggernaut is coming to an end.  They’re now battling for a Wild Card spot and won’t have Mikhail Sergachev for the rest of the season, giving them some LTIR room to work with (but they still don’t have much in the way of trade assets having been big buyers with regularity lately).  Nikita Kucherov continues to pace not only the team but the league offensively as his 98 points are tops in the NHL.

Final Thought

When the Habs first claimed Colin White off waivers from Pittsburgh on Thursday, two thoughts came to mind.  The first was the potential for another Glen Metropolit situation where he was claimed off waivers and played against his old team that night; that happened to him back in 2009.  The other is that White is this year’s Chris Tierney.

Tierney, you may recall (or maybe not considering how uneventful the end of last season was), actually got into 23 games for Montreal who claimed him off waivers around this time last season.  On the surface, claiming an experienced fringe player would seemingly go against the logic of a rebuilding team that could stand to benefit from giving a younger player a look.  But on the other hand, the move allows that younger player to stay in Laval, get more playing time, and help the Rocket.  That’s what happened with the Tierney claim last season and with White’s addition resulting in Gignac (who might very well be a more capable player at this stage of their careers) going back to playing on the top line in Laval.

Some have suggested that the White claim could open them up to move Jake Evans.  I don’t see that being the case as they probably don’t want to thin themselves out any more down the middle and frankly, I don’t think Evans has much trade value with another year on his contract at $1.75 million.  I think White’s addition was akin to making a trade to get a player for Laval (in this case, Gignac).  By doing it this way, it doesn’t cost them any assets aside from a $13,125 claiming fee that doesn’t count against the salary cap.  But that’s all this is, not a precursor to anything of significance, just like Tierney’s addition a year ago.