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Montreal’s final Western road trip of the season continued last week and once again, arguably their weakest game was the one they wound up winning as they picked up three of a possible six points.

The Week That Was

Mar. 19: Oilers 3, Canadiens 2 (OT) – The Habs were playing well defensively in this one but got burned a couple of times, resulting in Edmonton taking a two-goal lead into the third period.  However, Montreal pushed and tied it up with Nick Suzuki scoring in the opening minute of the third while Kaiden Guhle scored four minutes later against his hometown team.  However, a late double-minor from Joel Armia proved costly as the Oilers scored the winner in overtime with just 14 seconds remaining in the penalty.

Mar. 21: Canucks 4, Canadiens 1 – Many would suggest that Vancouver has overachieved this season but they certainly put up a strong effort in this one.  Nikita Zadorov scored twice in the first to give the Canucks some early breathing room and from there, they played a suffocating style that strongly limited Montreal’s chances, making it an easy night for former Hab (technically speaking, at least) Casey DeSmith.

Mar. 24: Canadiens 5, Kraken 1 – The Habs certainly benefitted from Philipp Grubauer having a rough start as Montreal popped four past him in the first 18 minutes including a pair from Alex Newhook.  But for the most part, Seattle controlled the play in this one, out-shooting and out-chancing the Canadiens but Cayden Primeau was up to the task, making 36 stops for the victory.



# Player GP G A +/- PIMS SOG ATOI
8 Mike Matheson 3 1 0 +3 2 4 24:46
11 Brendan Gallagher 3 0 1 -2 0 3 13:43
14 Nick Suzuki 3 2 1 +4 2 4 21:31
15 Alex Newhook 3 2 0 -2 2 5 17:03
17 Josh Anderson 3 0 0 -2 2 3 13:12
20 Juraj Slafkovsky 3 1 2 +2 4 4 18:43
21 Kaiden Guhle 3 2 2 +3 2 2 22:47
22 Cole Caufield 3 0 2 +2 0 7 18:52
26 Johnathan Kovacevic 2 0 0 E 0 1 14:39
36 Colin White 3 0 0 -3 0 0 8:56
40 Joel Armia 3 0 0 +1 4 8 17:45
47 Jayden Struble 1 0 0 E 2 0 16:41
49 Rafael Harvey-Pinard 3 0 0 E 0 1 12:17
54 Jordan Harris 3 0 2 +1 0 1 18:10
55 Michael Pezzetta 3 0 1 +1 5 1 8:25
56 Jesse Ylonen 1 0 0 E 0 4 12:14
58 David Savard 3 0 1 -3 2 3 19:01
70 Tanner Pearson 3 0 0 E 0 0 10:31
71 Jake Evans 3 0 1 +1 0 3 17:09
72 Arber Xhekaj 3 0 0 -2 4 4 17:34
89 Joshua Roy 1 0 0 -1 0 1 12:21


# Player Record GAA SV% SO
30 Cayden Primeau 1-0-0 1.00 .973 0
35 Samuel Montembeault 0-1-1 3.41 .877 0

Team Leaders:

Goals: Nick Suzuki (28)
Assists: Matheson/Suzuki (38)
Points: Nick Suzuki (66)
+/-: Johnathan Kovacevic (+9)
PIMS: Arber Xhekaj (71)
Shots: Cole Caufield (266)

News And Notes

– Joshua Roy suffered a hand injury while blocking a shot against Edmonton.  He’s expected to miss four-to-six weeks which likely ends his season with Montreal at least.  He could still suit up with Laval when cleared to return if they’re still playing.

– Montreal is now tied with Carolina for the second-most goals from defencemen in the league with 45.  On a percentage basis, the blueliners have accounted for nearly 24% of Montreal’s goals, the highest percentage in the NHL.

– Mike Matheson’s goal versus Seattle was his first career shorthanded tally.

– Rafael Harvey-Pinard played his 70th career game, making him waiver-eligible.  This is basically a technicality since he already wasn’t eligible to play in Laval after the trade deadline since he wasn’t papered down before the trade deadline.

Last Game’s Lines:

Caufield – Suzuki – Slafkovsky
Gallagher – Newhook – Armia
Anderson – Evans – Ylonen
Pezzetta – White – Harvey-Pinard

Matheson – Guhle
Xhekaj – Savard
Struble – Harris

The Week Ahead

Tuesday at Colorado – The Avs moved back into a tie for first in the Central after coming back from a 4-0 deficit to beat Pittsburgh in overtime on Sunday.  Nathan MacKinnon is second in the NHL in scoring, one point behind Nikita Kucherov.  He also has a point in every home game this season; if that holds up until the end of the season, he’ll set an NHL record in that regard.  Colorado was busy at the trade deadline, adding Sean Walker, Casey Mittelstadt, Yakov Trenin, and Brandon Duhaime in four separate trades, giving them stronger depth (and a new number two centre) for the stretch run.

Thursday vs Philadelphia – Despite having a roster that, on paper, has no business being a playoff contender, the Flyers have held down the third spot in the Metropolitan for most of the year and are still in there.  Travis Konecny has his second straight 30-goal season while former Hab Ryan Poehling has new career highs in assists (15) and points (24) which helped earn him a contract extension recently.  Cam York, picked right before Montreal took Cole Caufield, has emerged as a quality blueliner, logging over 22 minutes a night while chipping in with 28 points.

Saturday vs Carolina – The Hurricanes have gone on a nice run as of late, winning six of their last seven and nine of their last 11 to get themselves just behind the Rangers for the top spot in the Metro and are within striking distance of the league lead in points.  Their acquisitions of Evgeny Kuznetsov and Jake Guentzel have deepened an already strong offence while pushing former Hab Jesperi Kotkaniemi to the fourth line; he has played less than 10 minutes in three straight games.

Final Thought

When Alex Newhook struggled at centre early in the season, it looked like the wing was likely to be his long-term position.  However, the injuries to Kirby Dach and Christian Dvorak have forced Montreal’s hand.  They had to not only move him back down the middle but also for a much longer stretch; he has been there since coming back.  And you know what, he’s fared better than I expected.

Offensively, he’s noticeable which stands out on a team that doesn’t have a lot of offensive creativity beyond the top line.  He and Joshua Roy made for an intriguing duo and Joel Armia is playing with more consistency than he has in a long time.  I think Newhook deserves some credit for that.  Even at the faceoff dot, he’s a little over 50% since returning last month (51.0%).  While that’s not a huge number, that’s pretty good for someone who had a career rate of under 39% heading into the season.

So, what can be gleaned from this?  I’m a big believer in not relying too much on what happens down the stretch when there’s nothing to play for.  But with Newhook, it’s not so much about the offensive numbers (11 points in 20 games since being activated) as it is about his game-to-game level of play.  I’m not comfortable saying he’s shown enough to be a full-time NHL centre but I am comfortable saying he’s someone the Habs could trust to fill in that role beyond this season when injuries arise.  Considering how much he struggled early on in that role, that’s a pretty impressive turnaround, one the team should be quite pleased about.