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The last week was a bit of a mixed bag for the Habs.  They picked up three of six points but at the same time, the better they played, the more they seemed to struggle in terms of team success.

The Week That Was

Mar. 12: Canadiens 3, Blue Jackets 0 – The game got off to about as good of a start as possible.  The Habs scored in the first minute of the game and added two more before the six-minute mark, chasing Elvis Merzlikins and the rout was seemingly on.  However, from there, it was pretty much all Columbus who peppered Cayden Primeau early and often but he was sharp, kicking aside 41 shots for his second shutout of the season.

Mar. 14: Bruins 2, Canadiens 1 (OT) – Defensive structure was the name of the game for Montreal for most of this game after their struggles in that regard versus the Blue Jackets.  They did pretty well with that for the most part; it helped that Boston didn’t have their best game to the point where shots on goal let alone scoring chances were hard to come by.  But it’s hard to play structured in overtime and the Bruins quickly took advantage with Jake DeBrusk potting the winner on a two-on-one in the opening minute to get the extra point.

Mar. 16: Flames 5, Canadiens 2 – The structure was gone in this one as two teams that sold and are more or less playing out the stretch traded chances back and forth for a while.  Calgary jumped out to a 3-0 lead before the midway mark of the second but the Habs got two of those back when Cole Caufield and David Savard scored to keep it interesting.  However, Dustin Wolf outperformed Primeau in the battle of the rookies to give the Flames the win.



# Player GP G A +/- PIMS SOG ATOI
8 Mike Matheson 3 0 1 -4 0 4 26:09
11 Brendan Gallagher 3 1 0 +1 4 9 13:09
14 Nick Suzuki 3 1 1 -2 4 4 20:52
15 Alex Newhook 3 0 1 E 0 0 17:00
17 Josh Anderson 3 0 0 +1 4 5 12:26
20 Juraj Slafkovsky 3 1 2 -1 2 4 18:54
21 Kaiden Guhle 3 0 0 -3 6 5 20:32
22 Cole Caufield 3 1 1 -2 0 15 19:30
26 Johnathan Kovacevic 2 0 0 E 2 1 14:50
36 Colin White 2 0 0 E 0 2 9:13
40 Joel Armia 3 0 0 E 0 3 15:48
47 Jayden Struble 2 0 0 E 4 3 15:07
49 Rafael Harvey-Pinard 3 0 1 +1 0 1 12:00
54 Jordan Harris 2 0 0 E 0 3 17:16
55 Michael Pezzetta 1 0 0 E 0 0 6:53
58 David Savard 3 1 0 +4 0 6 20:24
70 Tanner Pearson 3 0 1 +1 0 2 11:04
71 Jake Evans 3 0 1 +2 0 2 16:25
72 Arber Xhekaj 3 0 1 +4 0 6 17:00
89 Joshua Roy 3 1 0 E 0 5 12:03


# Player Record GAA SV% SO
30 Cayden Primeau 1-1-0 2.50 .928 1
35 Samuel Montembeault 0-0-1 1.99 .917 0

Team Leaders:

Goals: Nick Suzuki (26)
Assists: Mike Matheson (38)
Points: Nick Suzuki (63)
+/-: Johnathan Kovacevic (+9)
PIMS: Josh Anderson (68)
Shots: Cole Caufield (259)

News And Notes

– As expected, Colin White was activated off injured reserve, giving Montreal four healthy centres again.  As there are no roster limits after the trade deadline, the Habs didn’t have to send anyone down to stay compliant.

– Head coach Martin St. Louis has taken a leave of absence for family reasons.  Trevor Letowski is serving as the interim bench boss for the time being.

– What a difference a year can make.  Last year, Rafael Harvey-Pinard had 14 goals in just 34 games.  This season, he’s sitting at just one through his first 30 appearances while his shooting percentage has dipped from an unsustainable 24.1% to a similarly unsustainable 4.5% rate.

Last Game’s Lines:

Caufield – Suzuki – Slafkovsky
Roy – Newhook – Armia
Gallagher – Evans – Anderson
Harvey-Pinard – White – Pearson

Matheson – Guhle
Xhekaj – Savard
Struble – Harris

The Week Ahead

Tuesday at Edmonton – Since the Oilers changed coaches early in the season, they have the best record in the NHL.  They picked up some extra centre depth at the trade deadline, adding Adam Henrique and Sam Carrick to the mix after adding former Hab Corey Perry midseason.  For all the trouble their goalies had early in the season, Edmonton has now allowed the seventh-fewest goals in the NHL while journeyman netminder Calvin Pickard has played to a .919 SV% in 14 appearances after taking over for Jack Campbell as their backup.  Their leading goal-getter probably isn’t who you think it is, it’s Zach Hyman who has 46.

Thursday at Vancouver – The Canucks have been the Pacific for a good chunk of the season although they’ve lost eight of their last 13 games as some of their unsustainable first-half numbers have come back down to earth.  They’re without starting goalie Thatcher Demko so former Hab (brief as it may have been) Casey DeSmith is their current starter.  Quinn Hughes leads all NHL blueliners with 77 points while J.T. Miller and Elias Pettersson give them a strong one-two punch down the middle.  They also have Elias Lindholm who was acquired from Calgary but he has struggled in more of a limited role.

Sunday at Seattle – After making the playoffs last year, things have not gone as planned for the Kraken this season as they find themselves 11 points out of a playoff spot and are missing a pair of key veterans in Vince Dunn and Jaden Schwartz.  Matty Beniers has struggled in his sophomore season, notching just 27 points so far after putting up 61 a year ago.  Former Hab Tomas Tatar was traded to Seattle early in the season but hasn’t exactly broken out, collecting only seven goals and six assists in 35 games so far.

Final Thought

It has been a busy couple of weeks and we haven’t gotten to the voting results from our February 3 Stars yet so let’s do so here.

1st Star: Nick Suzuki – The captain was among the top scorers league-wide last month so it’s no surprise he was a near-unanimous top selection.  While it’s unrealistic to expect that level of production moving forward, striving to reach the point-per-game mark is an aggressive but attainable goal.

Stats: 11 GP, 11 goals, 6 assists, 17 points, +3 rating, 4 PIMS, 34 shots, 52.4% faceoffs, 21:34 ATOI

2nd Star: Juraj Slafkovsky – The turnaround he has shown after a pretty quiet first couple of months has been quite something.  He isn’t just holding his own as the ‘other’ winger on the top line but is actually helping to make it better.  That’s a great sign for the sophomore.

Stats: 11 GP, 6 goals, 5 assists, 11 points, +2 rating, 14 PIMS, 30 shots, 19 hits, 20:15 ATOI

3rd Star: Cole Caufield – Well, with one line doing most of the heavy lifting last month, it should come as little surprise that all three players on that line landed in our three stars.  Caufield didn’t score much last month but the rest of his game stood out, particularly as his defensive game continues to improve. 

Stats: 11 GP, 2 goals, 6 assists, 8 points, +4 rating, 2 PIMS, 49 shots, 20:03 ATOI

Honourable Mention: Arber Xhekaj – The defenceman re-established himself as a regular in Montreal’s lineup and did well enough to earn a promotion to the second pairing partway through the month.  That’s the type of progression the Habs were hoping to see from several of their young blueliners who have stagnated somewhat as of late.

Stats: 10 GP, 2 goals, 2 assists, 4 points, even rating, 7 PIMS, 15 shots, 20 hits, 16:51 ATOI