After a slow start to the season, the Canadiens are winning more than they are losing, both at home and on the road. They are scoring goals and relying on their goaltending depth to outlast teams.
Montreal Canadiens News and Notes November 6
Scores and News
— Shayne Pasquino (@shaynepasquino) October 30, 2017
As good as the Canadiens looked against Ottawa, they looked bad in a 6-3 loss to the Minnesota Wild. While Brendan Gallagher tried to spark the team by scoring two goals, Carey Price struggled and allowed five goals on 26 shots. Reports emerged following the game that Price had a lower-body injury. Fans reacted as you might imagine to the news.
— Tim and Sid (@timandsid) November 3, 2017
Al Montoya stood tall against the Winnipeg Jets on Saturday night. The Canadiens showed grit and determination coming back from a two-goal deficit in the third period to win in overtime. Captain Max Pacioretty broke a long stretch without a power-play goal by taking a pass from Galchenyuk and burying it. The celebration was something to see from the usually taciturn player.
— Hockey Guy (@theNHLguy_) November 5, 2017
On Sunday the Canadiens finished their four-game road trip against the Chicago Blackhawks. Charles Hudon was a late scratch with an upper-body injury. Jacob de La Rose replaced him in the lineup. After being called up from Laval on Saturday, Charlie Lindgren got the start. Lindgren was a perfect 3-0-0 with a 1.65 GAA and .943 save percentage going into Sunday night’s game. He earned his first career shutout, stopping all 38 shots. The Habs won 2-0 and improve to 6-8-1. This was an amazing save.
— Montreal Canadiens (@_CanadiensMTL) November 6, 2017
Part of the turnaround this week for the Canadiens has been the play of Alex Galchenyuk. As LWOH’s own Jeff Deimeke points out Galchenyuk has made improvements in his game and deserves more ice time. He concludes: “now is time for the organization to reward him. More ice time equals more confidence, more confidence equals more opportunities and more scoring. More scoring equals more wins, and that’s what it’s all about.”
Are the Canadians looking to European/KHL free agency to bolster their roster? Elliott Freidman thinks so. In a comprehensive examination of the options available should the Habs look overseas, LWOH’s own Connor Lapalme offers concludes:
Signing free agents from Europe can be a low-risk way of improving a roster and organizational depth. The Canadiens have dipped their toe into the European market the past few seasons. They could stand to be even more aggressive, like arch-rival Toronto. Sending scouts out there now to follow some players is a good start. Hearing reports they plan to be players in the European free agent market is another solid step.
Sports Illustrated reports that the Montreal Canadiens like having the Laval Rocket close. After two seasons as the St. John’s IceCaps in Newfoundland and Labrador, this year the Canadiens moved their AHL team into the new 10,000-seat Place Bell in Laval. It follows a recent trend among NHL clubs to keep their top farm club nearby, making it easier to call players up or send them down and for management to track their progress. So far, players like Charlie Lindgren, Michael McCarron, Nikita Scherbak, and Brandon Davidson, among others, have made the short trip to the big club.
A Fresh Start
After a poor start with too many games with a listless effort and inconsistent play, the Canadiens may have exorcised their demons against the Winnipeg Jets. According to Ryan Szporer:
The Habs may still have that lingering issue of giving up goals in bunches, but at least they seem to be on their way to rectifying the worst issue of all: a lack of belief in themselves.
If the Canadiens are going to make the playoffs, they will need better goaltending. Indeed, the Montreal Canadiens have improved their play over the past six games. On defense, new pairings are starting to take shape. In addition, on offense, the team has scored 23 goals in their last six games. Despite these improvements, the Canadiens goaltending has been among the league’s worse to start the season.
Predictions and Previews
Many fans fear the Habs are out of a playoff spot. Jared Book points out that since the NHL went to the existing playoff format in 2013-14, only two teams who have started off with fewer points than the Canadiens in their first 12 games have made the playoffs. However, all is not lost. He concludes:
This team has been used to a November-December swoon the last two years after very good Octobers. This year, they need the reverse to happen…While their October doesn’t mean that they are out of it, it means that their margin for error going forward is much smaller. But it has happened before, and if the Canadiens start getting rid of their bad luck, it could happen again.
Games this Week
The Canadiens start a six-game homestand on Tuesday against the Vegas Golden Knights. Game time is 7:30 PM EST.
The Habs hope to get some revenge against the Minnesota Wild on Thursday night after their 6-3 loss last week. Game time in Montreal is 7:30 PM EST.