Montreal GM Marc Bergevin has built himself a pretty deep blueline over the last few seasons, and now he gets to see how truly deep it is.
With Sergei Gonchar sidelined and Alexei Emelin leaving Wednesday’s loss to Ottawa with an upper-body injury, the Canadiens have recalled former first-rounder Jarred Tinordi from AHL Hamilton.
Tinordi, 22, was the 22nd overall pick at the 2010 NHL Entry Draft and has appeared in nine games for the Habs this year, averaging 12:01 TOI per game. His recall may have come sooner, had he not suffered a concussion during this fight versus AHL Utica tough guy Andrey Pedan:
With Emelin out, Montreal was stuck playing five defensemen against the Sens last night: Andrei Markov, P.K. Subban, Tom Gilbert, Greg Pateryn and Nathan Beaulieu. Mike Weaver, who was scratched on Wednesday, will presumably draw into the lineup and Tinordi will sit as the extra.
It’s also worth noting the Habs have veteran d-man Bryan Allen still down in AHL Hamilton, should their injury woes on the blueline continue. Allen, acquired from Anaheim earlier this season, has appeared in five games for Montreal this season.
After losing to the Montreal Canadiens in the second round of the 2014 playoffs, the Boston Bruins couldn’t weren’t able to get revenge at any point during the 2014-15 campaign. Montreal earned a 3-1 victory against Boston tonight to complete their 4-0-0 sweep of the regular season series.
As was the case in the previous two meetings, Carey Price stood tall against the Bruins. He kicked out 34 of 35 shots, frustrating Boston’s shooters all game. It wasn’t until 15:29 of the third period that 18-year-old David Pastrnak just barely beat the Canadiens goaltender by knocking the bouncing puck towards the crease.
That ended Price’s shutout streak against the Bruins at 159:25 minutes, per Boston’s Twitter feed. It gave the Bruins hope in the final minutes of the game, but Boston couldn’t even things. Instead, Canadiens defenseman Andrei Markov fired on the empty net with 31 seconds left in regulation time to give Montreal all the insurance it needed.
Max Pacioretty also came up big for the Canadiens tonight with an assist and the game-winning goal on a breakway.
Zdeno Chara took full responsibility for the bad play he made on the Canadiens' GWG when he collided with Dougie.
Although the books are closed on the regular season meetings between Boston and Montreal, we might not have to wait much longer to view the next chapter of this rivalry. It’s entirely possible that the Bruins will end up facing the Canadiens in the first round of the playoffs. Of course, for that to happen, Boston needs to hold onto its postseason spot. With a 28-18-7 record, the Bruins have a six-point cushion in the Wild Card race.
#Habs sweep a regular-season series vs the #Bruins entirely with regulation victories for the first time since 1944-45.
When you look back at January, and really the 2014-15 season so far, things are going really well for the Montreal Canadiens.
The good news
Carey Price is generating buzz for a Hart Trophy win, not just a Vezina. Max Pacioretty keeps firing shots on goal, quite a few of which are winning games. Young players such as Alex Galchenyuk are already growing into legit everyday players while veterans including Andrei Markov show that they have something left in the tank.
It doesn’t hurt that Montreal is in a strong position to win the Atlantic Division, as they are in the thick of things and have certain advantages (such as two games in hand on Tampa Bay, which holds a slim one-point lead for the top spot).
If you look at their run since mid-December, business is seemingly booming; they are 15-4-1 since Dec. 9.
The very thing that’s been going right – brilliant goaltending from Price, timely scoring from the likes of Pacioretty – might just camouflage the notion that the Habs have also been getting lucky. Their PDO – a measure of save and shooting percentage that is a decent rule of thumb for a team’s good fortune – is the second highest in the NHL. While Price certainly has the talent to inflate that number from a save-percentage standpoint, it’s still noteworthy that Montreal is getting bounces now that might not come later.
(Montreal has a 63.6 winning percentage in one-goal games, tying them with Tampa Bay for the fifth-highest mark in that regard).
Reasons for hope
While certain stats point to what could be a scary plummet, there are some reasons to believe that the Habs might be less prone to free-falling than, say, last season’s Toronto Maple Leafs.
For one thing, they have an elite defenseman in P.K. Subban and one of the best goalies in the world in Price. There’s also a reasonable amount of forward depth to play better possession hockey.
Head coach Michel Therrien might just be the make-or-break factor in that regard, really.
As you can see here and here, Therrien has a tendency to flip-flop from doing the sort of things that make the stats community cringe (like arguably miscasting Dale Weise in a top-line role) and putting the Habs in a better position to succeed (such as opening things up during chunks of playoff time).
This isn’t to say that Therrien can just flip a switch and Montreal will become an elite possession team, yet perhaps tweaks can be made to avoid serious slippage.
There are some signs that the Canadiens might be playing with fire if they don’t improve in certain areas, yet there’s also the argument that their style is sustainable. Do you think Montreal is a genuine contender as constituted? If not, what do they need to do to make that happen?