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The Habs kicked off the week with an impressive performance but they weren’t able to sustain that momentum, dropping a pair of games to Metropolitan Division opponents.

The Week That Was

Feb. 13: Canadiens 5, Ducks 0 – After getting walloped by St. Louis in their last game, the Habs came out much more focused for this one.  Couple that with an Anaheim team that had been slumping lately and the combination was a successful one for Montreal.  Cayden Primeau faced only 13 shots in this one (about one period worth of shots some nights) for his first shutout while Brandon Gignac picked up his first NHL goal to cap off the scoring.

Feb. 15: Rangers 7, Canadiens 4 – The score suggests a bit of a blowout but for the most part, the Habs kept pace with the Metropolitan leaders.  But when things went bad, boy did they go bad.  New York scored four goals in a span of 4:10 in the second period to turn a Montreal lead into a big deficit in a hurry, one they weren’t able to recover from.

Feb. 17: Capitals 4, Canadiens 3 – This game won’t go down as a defensive masterclass for either side.  Jake Allen was hung out to dry at times which proved costly in the end but it’s worth highlighting that the Habs came back from three separate one-goal deficits and really made it interesting in the dying seconds with the power play.  Tanking teams don’t mind ‘competitive losses’ and this was one of those.



# Player GP G A +/- PIMS SOG ATOI
8 Mike Matheson 3 0 2 -3 0 5 25:15
11 Brendan Gallagher 2 0 0 -2 0 0 11:19
14 Nick Suzuki 3 3 2 +2 0 11 22:38
15 Alex Newhook 3 1 1 -1 0 6 18:59
17 Josh Anderson 3 0 2 -2 0 5 14:17
20 Juraj Slafkovsky 3 2 4 +2 0 1 21:34
21 Kaiden Guhle 3 0 2 +1 7 3 20:07
22 Cole Caufield 3 2 2 +2 0 20 21:39
26 Johnathan Kovacevic 3 0 0 -1 11 2 14:58
40 Joel Armia 3 0 2 -1 2 7 14:25
47 Jayden Struble 3 0 1 +3 14 3 17:19
55 Michael Pezzetta 3 0 0 -1 0 2 9:11
56 Jesse Ylonen 1 0 0 +1 0 0 8:45
58 David Savard 3 0 0 E 0 2 18:53
70 Tanner Pearson 3 0 2 -1 2 5 13:00
71 Jake Evans 3 2 0 -1 0 9 15:24
72 Arber Xhekaj 3 1 0 -1 5 6 16:08
74 Brandon Gignac 3 1 0 -1 0 3 10:26
89 Joshua Roy 3 0 1 -1 0 4 11:44


# Player Record GAA SV% SO
30 Cayden Primeau 1-0-0 0.00 1.000 1
34 Jake Allen 0-1-0 4.16 .882 0
35 Samuel Montembeault 0-1-0 7.00 .774 0

Team Leaders:

Goals: Nick Suzuki (20)
Assists: Mike Matheson (34)
Points: Nick Suzuki (53)
+/-: Johnathan Kovacevic (+5)
PIMS: Arber Xhekaj (58)
Shots: Cole Caufield (208)

News And Notes

– While Jordan Harris hasn’t received the green light to return, he has been skating the last few days which suggests he could be cleared to play sooner than a lot of people expected.  He was never moved to injured reserve so the Habs won’t have to send someone down when he’s cleared.

– Juraj Slafkovsky is now on a career-best eight-game point streak, setting a new franchise-record.  He still has a long way to go to catch the record held by Patrik Laine (15, set back in 2017-18).

– Brendan Gallagher has the tenth-worst plus/minus in the NHL heading into Sunday’s action with a -23 rating.  For comparison, his previous worst in that category was -13 back in 2017-18, a year in which he still scored 31 goals.

Last Game’s Lines:

Caufield – Suzuki – Slafkovsky
Pearson – Evans – Anderson
Newhook – Roy – Armia
Pezzetta – Gignac – Gallagher

Matheson – Guhle
Savard – Struble
Xhekaj – Kovacevic

The Week Ahead

Feb. 21: vs Buffalo – The Sabres are now tied with the Habs for sixth in the Atlantic Division standings.  Surprisingly, offence has been the issue for them this season as several of their young core pieces continue to underachieve.  Meanwhile, Ukko-Pekka Luukkonen has grabbed hold of the starting job, resulting in Devon Levi seeing some extended AHL action.  Buffalo will be without former first-overall pick Owen Power for this game due to a hand injury.

Feb. 22: at Pittsburgh – Another team who has been better defensively and worse offensively than expected, the Penguins continue to find themselves toward the back of the battle for a Wild Card spot.  Things won’t get any easier for the next few weeks as they’ll be without Jake Guentzel for four weeks due to an upper-body injury.  While he is starting to slow down, Sidney Crosby is still a bit over the point-per-game mark, one he has reached in every NHL season so far.

Feb. 24: at New Jersey – Their goaltending situation hasn’t gotten much better since these two teams last met.  Nico Daws has been a small upgrade on Vitek Vanecek and Akira Schmid but counting on your third-string goalie to carry you for a playoff run for the second straight season would be risky.  The back end has been shaky for most of the year although they should get Jonas Siegenthaler back by this game.  Former Hab Tyler Toffoli appears to be on his way to another 30-goal year in the final season of his contract.

Final Thought

About the only consistent part of Joel Armia’s time with Montreal has been his consistent inconsistency, a frustration Winnipeg fans also are familiar with.  When he’s on, Armia is still a capable defensive forward with enough offensive skill to make him not just a one-trick pony.  But when he’s off, Armia is basically a fourth-line checker.

Lately, we’ve been seeing the good version of Armia, one that, dare I say it, is actually worth something resembling his contract.  Yes, the stat line is ugly but the game-to-game effectiveness has made him an above-average third-liner in recent weeks and $3.4 million is around the going rate for one of those players.  With that in mind, it might be possible for the Canadiens to move him in the coming weeks.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying there’s a big market and he’ll get a good return.  But perhaps there’s a reasonable one with salary retention or there’s a team that might want to swap a similarly-priced forward in a change-of-scenery type of swap.  Neither of those are overly appealing but for someone who cleared waivers a few months ago and has been a speculative buyout candidate at times (I’m not in that camp), having any possible semblance of trade value is a step in the right direction.  Here’s hoping he can keep it up instead of following the usual pattern of becoming much less noticeable before long.