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The Habs put forth two fairly strong outings last week along with one poor one.  As it turned out, they lost the games they played well in and won the one that they didn’t.

The Week That Was

Feb. 27: Canadiens 4, Coyotes 2 – In the latest instalment of the ‘Draft Lottery Bowl’, Arizona came to town determined to snap their losing streak.  Frankly, they deserved to as they were doubling up the Habs in shots and scoring chances for good chunks of the game.  However, Samuel Montembeault was sharp in goal while they got some key secondary scoring from Joel Armia, Jordan Harris, and Tanner Pearson to pick up the two points.

Feb. 29: Panthers 4, Canadiens 3 (SO) – Montreal kept up with Florida in the opening period before the Panthers got going in the second.  However, Juraj Slafkovsky scored a buzzer-beater to end the frame to tie the game, setting the stage for a quality third period where a shorthanded goal from Sam Reinhart helped send the game to overtime.  Anton Lundell had the winner in the shootout.

Mar. 2: Lightning 4, Canadiens 3 (SO) – There were certainly some parallels from the Florida game to this one.  The Habs played well in the first and the third and were terrible in the second period.  They had a lead in the third and couldn’t hold onto it after yielding yet another shorthanded goal.  This time, it took six rounds of the shootout to get a winner when Victor Hedman beat Cayden Primeau.



# Player GP G A +/- PIMS SOG ATOI
8 Mike Matheson 3 0 0 -4 2 3 26:31
11 Brendan Gallagher 3 0 1 +2 2 5 13:29
14 Nick Suzuki 3 2 2 E 0 8 21:22
15 Alex Newhook 3 1 2 -2 0 8 15:39
17 Josh Anderson 3 1 0 -3 2 4 14:44
20 Juraj Slafkovsky 3 1 0 -3 4 9 19:17
21 Kaiden Guhle 3 0 1 -3 0 3 23:37
22 Cole Caufield 3 0 2 -1 4 9 19:49
26 Johnathan Kovacevic 3 0 0 +3 2 0 13:45
36 Colin White 3 0 0 E 0 1 10:10
40 Joel Armia 3 2 1 +1 0 8 16:14
54 Jordan Harris 3 1 1 +3 0 2 16:37
56 Jesse Ylonen 3 0 0 +1 0 1 9:57
58 David Savard 3 0 1 +4 4 2 23:14
70 Tanner Pearson 3 1 0 E 0 3 12:51
71 Jake Evans 3 1 2 +3 2 9 17:49
72 Arber Xhekaj 3 0 2 +3 5 6 17:44
89 Joshua Roy 3 0 1 E 0 2 11:24


# Player Record GAA SV% SO
30 Cayden Primeau 0-0-1 2.77 .900 0
35 Samuel Montembeault 1-0-1 2.40 .932 0

Shootout – Skaters:

# Player G/ATT
14 Nick Suzuki 0/2
20 Juraj Slafkovsky 0/1
22 Cole Caufield 2/2
40 Joel Armia 0/1
56 Jesse Ylonen 0/2
89 Joshua Roy 0/1

Shootout – Goalies:

# Player SVS/SF
30 Cayden Primeau 4/6
35 Samuel Montembeault 1/3

Team Leaders:

Goals: Nick Suzuki (24)
Assists: Matheson/Suzuki (35)
Points: Nick Suzuki (59)
+/-: Johnathan Kovacevic (+9)
PIMS: Arber Xhekaj (65)
Shots: Cole Caufield (230)

News And Notes

– The Habs don’t lead the NHL in many categories but they are the league leaders in most shorthanded goals allowed.  With two more this past week, they’re now up to 11 on the season, three ahead of half a dozen teams who sit at eight. 

– Another stat Montreal leads in is one-goal games played as they’ve played 35 of those out of their first 61 of the season.  For comparison purposes, they only had 31 in 2022-23 and still have a quarter of this season left to add to their current total.

– Rafael Harvey-Pinard has resumed skating with the team and while he wasn’t activated off IR, it’s possible that he could be activated a bit ahead of schedule.  Worth remembering, however, is that rosters expand on trade deadline day so it’s possible the Habs wait to activate him until then.

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

Tuesday at Nashville – The Predators are one of the more intriguing teams to keep an eye on heading into the trade deadline as they appear to be right on the edge of buying and selling.  For a team that doesn’t have a lot of firepower on paper, they’re actually in the top half of the league for offence paced by Filip Forsberg and Roman Josi while despite having Juuse Saros in net, they’re in the bottom half for goals allowed.  Former Hab Denis Gurianov signed with them in the summer but has played in just 13 NHL games for them, notching a goal and an assist.  Meanwhile, former Hab first-round pick Michael McCarron recently got a contract extension and has become a capable fourth-line centre.

Thursday at Carolina – The Hurricanes will have a sour taste heading into this one after blowing a three-goal third-period lead to Winnipeg on Saturday.  It’s possible that they’ll have Frederik Andersen (blood clots) back for this one with GM Don Waddell recently saying he could be back this week.  Former Hab Jesperi Kotkaniemi is in quite a drought as he has just two goals and four assists in his last 40 outings.

Saturday vs Toronto – The Maple Leafs are a bit banged up on the back end right now; if you count the absence of Jake Muzzin (LTIR all season), they’re down five blueliners.  It continues to be a three-man show offensively for Toronto with Auston Matthews, Mitch Marner, and William Nylander pacing the way while former Hab Max Domi has chipped in with 31 points in his first season with the Leafs.

Final Thought

The week of the trade deadline is upon us and like many, I’m not expecting a lot from Montreal.  Frankly, if they didn’t make a single move, I wouldn’t be too surprised.  The Chris Tanev trade hurt the market for David Savard and GM Kent Hughes’ history suggests he’s not going to sell low on his players and this isn’t a great market to be a seller of depth pieces.

Earlier this week, our writers discussed some ideas of who could be moved next.  I’m going to toss some under-the-radar names into the mix as well.  Take a look at Montreal’s upcoming signing deadlines for prospects.  Four have to be signed by June 1st or their rights are lost.  Four more are in the same boat for August 15th.  They’re not signing all of them; they might not even sign half of them.  That’s one of the byproducts of a deep prospect pool; you have to be selective of who you do and don’t sign.

There are some teams who won’t be as restricted on that front.  If there is a prospect that management knows they won’t be signing, they then become a trade chip.  Let’s use Petteri Nurmi as an example.  As far as prospects go, he’s not bad, a bit of a traditional defender who could certainly keep up in the AHL for a few years.  With Montreal’s depth on the back end, he’s unlikely to sign but there are teams who could conceivably sign him after his rights expire.  Why not try to flip him for someone who could aid in Laval’s playoff push?  Or, failing that, a late-round pick?  These types of housekeeping moves aren’t anything to get excited about but they can help and in the absence of some plausible trade options from the NHL roster, that might be all that could realistically be expected from the Habs in the coming days.