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The turning of the calendar to April yielded a tough week for the Habs who faced four of the top teams in the Eastern Conference.  They were able to only manage a single victory out of those games despite some decent performances most nights.

The Week That Was

Apr. 2: Canadiens 5, Panthers 3 – Florida had been struggling coming into this one and the Habs were able to take advantage.  Nick Suzuki snapped a tie in the second period with a pair of goals while Cole Caufield kicked off a week-long scoring streak in the third period.  Samuel Montembeault had yet to win against his former team but was able to snap that streak with a strong performance.

Apr. 4: Lightning 7, Canadiens 4 – The second period has been a problem for Montreal this season and it was once again in this one.  After Joel Armia tied it up early in the frame, Tampa Bay went on to score four goals in less than ten minutes, taking what was a close game to one that was out of reach despite the Habs putting forth a strong effort in the third to at least make it interesting.

Apr. 6: Maple Leafs 4, Canadiens 2 – Recent history repeated itself in this one.  After a solid first period, Toronto then came out and scored four times in the first eight minutes of the second period, creating a deficit that was too much to overcome.  Once again, they snapped to life after allowing the fourth goal which chased Montembeault from the game but it was once again a case of too little, too late.

Apr. 7: Rangers 5, Canadiens 2 – The score won’t imply it but Cayden Primeau had himself a good outing against the league leaders, making several key stops, especially early on.  This time, it was the third period that proved to be problematic with New York scoring four times to take the lead and run with it.



# Player GP G A +/- PIMS SOG ATOI
8 Mike Matheson 4 0 6 +1 4 11 26:37
11 Brendan Gallagher 4 0 2 -3 12 8 13:25
14 Nick Suzuki 4 3 2 E 2 12 21:42
15 Alex Newhook 4 1 4 -3 2 6 18:48
17 Josh Anderson 4 0 0 -3 0 6 14:13
20 Juraj Slafkovsky 4 1 3 +1 8 16 19:44
21 Kaiden Guhle 2 0 1 +1 0 3 11:27
22 Cole Caufield 4 4 0 +2 0 22 20:43
26 Johnathan Kovacevic 2 0 0 -1 0 2 15:56
36 Colin White 4 0 0 E 0 3 8:44
40 Joel Armia 4 3 0 -2 4 8 16:48
47 Jayden Struble 4 0 0 -4 8 3 18:06
49 Rafael Harvey-Pinard 4 0 0 -3 0 0 11:21
52 Justin Barron 2 0 0 -2 0 3 17:09
54 Jordan Harris 4 0 0 -4 0 3 19:31
55 Michael Pezzetta 4 0 1 E 9 1 8:16
56 Jesse Ylonen 2 0 0 -1 2 1 9:41
58 David Savard 4 0 1 +2 2 2 18:53
70 Tanner Pearson 2 0 0 -1 0 5 14:23
71 Jake Evans 4 1 0 -3 2 2 16:07
72 Arber Xhekaj 2 0 1 E 2 5 16:43


# Player Record GAA SV% SO
30 Cayden Primeau 0-2-0 4.11 .897 0
35 Samuel Montembeault 1-1-0 4.78 .865 0

Team Leaders:

Goals: Nick Suzuki (33)
Assists: Mike Matheson (47)
Points: Nick Suzuki (74)
+/-: Johnathan Kovacevic (+8)
PIMS: Arber Xhekaj (81)
Shots: Cole Caufield (295)

News And Notes

– Kaiden Guhle and Arber Xhekaj both suffered upper-body injuries against Tampa Bay and weren’t available to play over the weekend.  That resulted in Justin Barron being recalled and playing three games in as many nights.

– Josh Anderson is in a particularly rough slump at the moment.  Not only does he not have a goal in his last 15 games, he doesn’t have an assist in that span either.  Of course, Colin White remains the team leader for most games without a point as he is at 28 going back to his time earlier in the season in Pittsburgh.

– Cayden Primeau now has 21 appearances on the season, matching the number of NHL games played over his first four seasons combined.

Last Game’s Lines

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

Matheson – Savard
Harris – Kovacevic
Struble – Barron

The Week Ahead

Tuesday vs Philadelphia – The Flyers are in nothing short of a complete tailspin at the moment to fall outside the playoffs after holding down a divisional spot for most of the season.  It isn’t because of injuries either; they’ve just started to struggle at the worst possible time.  Ivan Fedotov finally came over from Russia, giving Philadelphia a promising goalie for the future (assuming he signs an extension) but his first NHL start was on the shaky side.

Thursday at New York (I) – The Islanders are basically the opposite of the Flyers.  They struggled for most of the year but have caught fire in recent weeks, allowing them to sneak into a playoff spot for the time being at least.  Noah Dobson is one of the top-scoring blueliners in the NHL this season and isn’t getting much fanfare while Mathew Barzal has a shot at a career year as well.  Semyon Varlamov has been the better of New York’s two goalies this season and is starting to see more starts down the stretch.

Saturday at Ottawa – While the first two games of the week will have an impact on the playoff standings, this game is the one most Montreal fans will be concerned with since it involves the lottery standings.  At the moment, the Habs are two points behind the Senators.  Ottawa didn’t have Tim Stutzle available over the weekend while Josh Norris is done for the year, doing some damage to their depth down the middle in the process.  Barring something unforeseen, this will be Montreal’s final time playing against their former head coach Jacques Martin.

Final Thought

It has been a bit of a weird year for Montreal’s two top forwards.  Nick Suzuki is scoring goals at a higher clip than many expected while Cole Caufield is scoring at a lower rate.  Neither are at rates that should be considered sustainable but in the end, it should still work out.

Suzuki’s shooting percentage last season was 16.0, one that is definitely at the higher end of the league in that department.  Most players at that percentage are expected to take a step back.  He has done the opposite, coming in at an 18.6% clip with five games left in the year.  While he’s a player who should beat the league average in shooting percentage given his pass-first tendency, it would be surprising to see him score at a similar mark next season.  Accordingly, some sort of drop-off should be expected.

The good news is that Caufield should be able to pick up the slack.  He came into this season at a 14.1% rate, not a bad one for a volume shooter.  This year, it’s at 8.1%.  Losing two or three percent is a reasonable variance, losing six is an outlier.  Whatever Suzuki loses in goals, Caufield should be able to make up for it and perhaps then some if he comes close to his career average next season.  Add that to ideally continued improvement from Juraj Slafkovsky and the Habs should continue to have a top line that can produce like some true top lines around the NHL.  It has been a while since they’ve had that type of top production with any sort of consistency.  Now, they just need to get the other three lines upgraded on that front.