Montreal Canadiens Notes and News November 27: Carey Price is Back

After losing five games in a row, the Montreal Canadiens welcomed back Carey Price for Saturday night’s game against the Buffalo Sabres. The 3-0 win is not enough to dispel serious concerns about the Canadiens defence and lack of scoring. Price’s return is a bit of good news for fans, however, who are getting a bit too used to disappointment.

Montreal Canadiens Notes and News November 27

Scores and News

Last week started with a 3-1 loss to the Dallas Stars. While the Canadiens did not play terribly in the first and third period, for the ninth time this season, they allowed two goals in under a minute. The Benn brothers had a few interactions, as their parents watched from the stands.

Marc Dumont had the tweet of the night when Alexander Radulov hit the post in the third period.

The Canadiens loss to P.K. Subban and the Nashville Predators in the shootout was perhaps a better effort. Jordie Benn scored in the first period and Joseph Morrow scored in the third. Filip Forsberg had two power-play markers and Kyle Turris scored in the shootout. P.K. and Brendan Gallagher went at it most of the night. P.K. got the last word.

On Saturday night, the Montreal Canadiens faced the Buffalo Sabres. The struggling Jeff Petry had his best game of the season, scoring a power-play goal, 13 minutes into the game. Alex Galchenyuk and Paul Byron combined on a set play in the second period. On a two on one, Byron fired the puck off the pads of Robin Lehner. Galchenyuk picked up the rebound and scored.

Paul Byron capped off a good game for the Habs with a shorthanded goal, on a breakaway eight minutes into the third period. Carey Price made 36 saves for his first shutout of the season.

Commentary

Players

Torrey Mitchell ended up being a smart investment for the Montreal Canadiens. The team sent him to the Los Angeles Kings, and in exchange got a conditional 2018 fifth-round pick. If the Kings make the postseason this year, the pick becomes a fourth rounder.  If the Kings make the playoffs, the Kings would return the Canadiens 2018 fourth-round pick, acquired in the Dwight King trade.

Shea Weber is struggling with an injury and has missed three games. Weber is taking part in morning skates but is not ready to return to the lineup. Weber 4 goals and 9 assists in 20 games this season. He is minus-7 while averaging a team-high 26:07 of ice time.

David Schlemko has yet to play a game with the Canadiens. He is finally getting close to suiting up. After playing two games with the AHL’s Laval Rocket last weekend as part of a conditioning stint, he is a possible starter against the Columbus Blue Jackets this week.

Victor Mete has outperformed all expectations. While Mete would be better served as a leading member of the London Knights and potentially going to the world junior championship as a member of Team Canada. With the blue line in flux, a timetable for Mete has not been announced.

Problems

The Montreal Canadiens have reportedly sold out every home game since Jan. 8, 2004. However, this year, large blocks of seats at the Bell Centre appear to sit empty and resellers offer tickets at less than face value. Are fans beginning to turn away from the franchise? The Canadiens recently reduced the price of some tickets for a game next Wednesday against Ottawa. Several tickets are still available.

Following on from others who have outlined the case for a Canadiens rebuild, ESPN is following suit. This requires moving on from Marc Bergevin era, jettisoning high priced contracts signed during his tenure, and re-building the team from the bottom up. Does anyone think this is a team on the cusp? If not, it is time to re-imagine the organization and rethink the team.

While many fans and analysts see Bergevin as the one to blame for the travails of the Montreal Canadiens, Claude Julien has not met expectations. There are perhaps three major issues with the coach. Some come from his seeming inability to adapt his defensive system to Montreal. Others come from his inability to adjust to a more modern approach to the game. Third and finally, Julien has continued an opaque approach to information sharing with fans and the media.

Predictions and Previews

As Pat Hickey notes, sportsclubstats.com rates the Canadiens’ chances of making the playoffs at 4.3 percent. Should Habs fans get excited about the results of the lottery draft? The challenge for fans is that the better the Habs play this year, the worse their chances of a top draft pick next year. However, many still assume simply making the playoffs would signal a successful year.

If that is the goal, the next four games over six days will go a long way in determining whether this is a playoff team. Both Ottawa and Detriot are divisional rivals.

Games this Week

On Monday, the Habs face the Columbus Blue Jackets. With a record of 15-7-1, the Jackets are winning games and scoring goals. The game is a significant test for Price and the Canadiens. Game time is 7:30 EST.

The Canadiens face the Ottawa Senators on Wednesday. The struggling Senators are 8-8-6 and are in the midst of a losing streak. Game time at the Bell Center is 7:30 EST.

On Thursday and Saturday, the Canadiens and Detroit Red Wings play an away and home series. Thursday nights game is in Detroit and the Habs and Wings play on Saturday back at the Bell center. Game time is 7 EST.

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