“We’ve played a lot of hockey in less than three weeks. This team is drained. They’re empty. The lemon is squeezed of all its juice.”
That was Montreal coach Michel Therrien after his team was beaten, 2-1, by the visiting Florida Panthers on Sunday.
For the fully-squeezed Canadiens, it was their third defeat in four outings, the lone win coming Saturday, 1-0 in overtime on Long Island. In their past four games combined, the Habs have scored just three times while averaging a meager 23.8 shots. Though on the bright side, 19-year-old forward Alex Galchenyuk has been dangerous.
Tonight, the Phoenix Coyotes pay a visit to the Bell Centre, after which the Habs travel to St. Louis (Thursday) and Nashville (Saturday) before what sounds like a much-needed Christmas break.
The Coyotes, meanwhile, are coming off a 3-1 home loss to Carolina on Saturday. Phoenix started the season extremely well, posting a 14-4-3 record in its first 21 games. But the team is a mediocre 4-5-2 since, and has fallen out of a playoff spot in the tough Western Conference.
“We’re still in an all right position,” goalie Mike Smith said, per the Arizona Republic. “I think we’re nine games above .500 (18-9-5). You start the season and say by Christmas if you’re that, I think you’re pretty happy. But, obviously, we want to be in a playoff position and to do that we have to win hockey games.”
Scottie Upshall has parlayed his training camp tryout into a contract with St. Louis.
On Monday, the Blues agreed to a one-year, two-way deal with the veteran forward, worth $700,000 at the NHL level. The deal comes after Upshall spent all of training camp and the preseason impressing the Blues his speed and skating ability, no small feat for a 31-year-old veteran with over 500 NHL games on his odometer.
But where Upshall fits in the Blues lineup — and within the organization — remains to be seen.
The club has plenty of depth up front and Upshall isn’t coming off a terrific campaign, having scored just eight goals and 15 points in 63 games with Florida last season. That said, he showed enough to be just one of a handful of veterans on PTOs to score a contract.
Lawson Crouse is going back to junior. The big 18-year-old winger confirmed it today on Twitter.
Crouse was drafted 11th overall in June by the Florida Panthers. Despite the club’s belief that Crouse could make “an immediate impact” on the roster, he finished the preseason with just two shots and one assist in three games.
Crouse will return to the OHL’s Kingston Frontenacs, with whom he’ll look to improve on his modest point totals from last season.
“I don’t think there’s any pressure on the kid,” coach Gerard Gallant said last week. “If he doesn’t make the team this year he goes back to junior … and will have a lot of success.”