Another Split on the Road as Two Goal-Filled Games Take Place

Without getting into the specifics of either of the games played in this central time zone double-header, the Montreal Canadiens will be returning home with some serious work to do come practice time. The team humiliated the Jets before being humiliated by the Wild while playing porous defensively on both nights. The team has allowed an aggregate of 11 goals over the two games in the last 24 hours. While some of these goals can be attributed to tonight’s situation in Minnesota, one must consider the fact that they allowed 4 goals against a mightily struggling Winnipeg Jets team. Despite the defensive struggle, some of the kids getting some quality ice-time must be a positive. This allows them to grow as players or else provide much more information to management to evaluate what they have in terms of personnel heading into trade deadline negotiations. Tonight's game really looked like a copy of the contest against the Capitals where Montreal started off playing quite well but really fell apart once they fell behind in the game. Since I’m not going into the specifics of the games of the last two days (because describing 19 goals would be a never-ending blog), I’ll spend more time in the observation section of the blog.

 

Observations

1. Phil Danault is having himself some kind of coming out party with the injuries to Galchenyuk and Desharnais. While there is no doubt that he is not a long-term answer as the number 1 center, he may be an excellent and cheap option as a 2/3 center splitting the role with Tomas Plekanec and eventually Mike McCarron. For now, he has easily been the best center on the team as we anxiously await the return of Galchenyuk.

2. Tomas Plekanec played two very good games. Let’s toss aside the third period tonight as everyone had given up, and Plekanec easily played his best two games in a very long time. It’s not just the offense, but the ability to follow and create alongside Lehkonen. Lehkonen was likely the best Montreal player on both nights this week and is continuing to prove that he belongs in the top 6 even when the injured players return.

3. Flynn had himself a very good night in Winnipeg and backed it up with one of his worst games in a Habs uniform tonight. He is directly responsible for the blown coverage on the Wild’s first goal, and for many turn-overs at the blue lines after this blown coverage. Perhaps his ice time could have been diminished once Therrien clearly saw that Flynn just wasn’t functional on this night.

4. McCarron wasn’t as positively noticeable over the last week but continues to do some little things to help the team. He may very well be returned to St John’s once everyone is healthy but he’s done enough to be the first one back up if anyone else gets injured. That’s surely more than what can be said for both Daniel Carr and Sven Andrighetto at the moment, who are nowhere to be seen this season.

5. I understand that a double-header might be a good time to let Scherbak watch a game, but is it necessary to give Chris Terry this much ice-time? He’s about as NHL material as Johnston and Farnham. I understand not wanting to place a prized prospect in a position to fail, but Terry was constantly on the ice in the second period (before the score was out of reach) and I’m pretty sure he lost every single puck race and puck battle he was involved in.

6. In a game like tonight, it’s hard to find positives. Here’s an easy one though. Zach Redmond is terrible at supporting the attack, but he’s a better defender than Barberio and Johnston combined as he rarely places himself in a position to leave his partner hanging. Last season, Barberio rarely did this but he seems to be a different player this season. Strange to say the least.

7. Nathan Beaulieu may very well be the sacrificial lamb come the trade deadline and he has no one else to blame but himself should this happen. Beaulieu has been given a golden opportunity with the Markov injury and he continues to prove that nothing has changed. He is easily the Habs most enigmatic player as he can be the best defender on the team for a week, and then look like a blind version of Bambi on ice the next. After a week where observers thought he was turning a corner, this road trip comes along where Beaulieu is an absolute disaster in both games causing me to wonder if keeping Barberio in the lineup upon Markov’s return wouldn’t be a better idea. Petry may have looked bad on some of those plays, but Beaulieu has looked completely lost for the last couple of games.

Montreal returns home to face the New York Rangers at 7pm on Saturday night.

Thanks for reading,

Kevin Léveillé

Follow me on Twitter: @kev1586