Montreal Canadiens

AP Images

NHL on NBCSN: Flyers looking to make first-place jump vs. Canadiens


NBCSN’s coverage of the 2017-18 season continues on Monday night, as the Montreal Canadiens host the Philadelphia Flyers at 7:30 p.m. ET. You can watch the game online by clicking here

The Flyers have had quite a weird season. After losing 10 in a row in December, they reeled off six straight wins. Since Jan. 1, they’re 17-5-2. That run has put them in an interesting place as they visit Bell Centre tonight. A win coupled with a Washington Capitals loss to the Columbus Blue Jackets would put the Flyers in first place in the Metropolitan Division.

Just wild.

“We always believed in ourselves, and we know we have a good team here,” said defenseman Robert Hagg last week. “Obviously, we’ve proved that in the last couple months. Hopefully, we can keep it going and make a push for the first spot and get into the playoffs with a good feeling.”

They face a Canadiens team that has an eye toward next season and is selling assets as they look to regroup for 2018-19. Tomas Plekanec is gone and there could be others heading out the door before puck drops tonight as captain Max Pacioretty and Alex Galchenyuk have found themselves in the rumor mill. This is a team already without Carey Price (concussion) and Shea Weber, who’s done for the year with a foot injury.

This should be an easy two points for the Flyers, who have been rolling with six wins in a row and have a No. 1 goalie in Petr Mrazek with Michael Neuvirth and Brian Elliott sidelined. Of course, we’ve seen crazy things happen and teams taking opponents lightly. Considering the playoff picture in the Eastern Conference, it would be wise for Philadelphia not to do that, especially with a big jump in the standings as a possible result of a win on Monday night.

MORE: Pro Hockey Talk 2018 NHL Trade Deadline Tracker


Sean Leahy is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at or follow him on Twitter @Sean_Leahy.

Trade: Maple Leafs add depth, acquire veteran center Tomas Plekanec

Getty Images

Trade deadline day could be a snoozefest at this rate.

The trade: The Toronto Maple Leafs acquire Tomas Plekanec and Kyle Baun from the Montreal Canadiens for Rinat Valiev, Kerby Rychel and Toronto’s second-round draft pick in 2018. The Canadiens will retain 50 percent of Plekanec’s salary in the deal.

Why the Maple Leafs are making this trade: Plekanec slides right into a fourth line center role with the Leafs as an upgrade over Dominic Moore. The 35-year-old’s production might be waning, but he’s still a solid two-way center that can be counted on to be responsible in the defensive zone. He could also move right into the mix on Toronto’s top penalty kill unit. Immediately, he could also help fill the gaps with Auston Matthews out of the lineup due to injury.

With the Canadiens retaining 50 percent of Plekanec’s salary in his final season of a two-year, $12 million contract, the Leafs can still stay busy in the trade market without immediate worry about cap woes.

According to CapFriendly, the Leafs still have $3,423,334 worth of cap room to play with.

Why the Canadiens are making this trade: Well, for starters, getting a return for Plekanec, a pending unrestricted free agent, was a must. And they certainly got a nice haul for him. The Canadiens, who look to be entering a time of rebuilding, now have four second-round picks — and nine total — in the 2018 draft after Sunday’s trade. That pick is the primary factor in this trade.

Rychel led the Toronto Marlies in scoring last season, but hasn’t been able to crack the Leafs after being acquired from the Columbus Blue Jackets. Rychel was taken 19th overall in the 2013 draft and has 37 NHL games under his belt.

Valiev has 10 NHL games. He’s shown some promise as a depth, safe defenseman.

Who won the trade? It’s a trade that benefits both sides. The playoff-bound Maple Leafs add depth to the spine of the forward contingent. Also, they get a guy who has quite a bit of playoff experience. Plekanec has played in 87 postseason games, amassing 16 goals and 49 points, including 11 points in 19 games during the 2009-10 season. The Canadiens add another pick to their stable, and get two prospects that will likely get looks before the end of the season.

MORE: Pro Hockey Talk 2018 NHL Trade Deadline Tracker

Scott Billeck is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at or follow him on Twitter @scottbilleck

Canadiens’ Shea Weber to undergo foot surgery, miss rest of season

Getty Images

Be sure to visit and NBC Olympic Talk for full hockey coverage from PyeongChang.

The Montreal Canadiens won’t be participating in the playoffs, so on Thursday it was announced that Shea Weber is set to undergo surgery to repair a tear in a tendon in his left foot, ending his season.

˝Following the diagnosis of Shea Weber’s injury, it was our belief that after a comprehensive rehabilitation protocol under the guidance of our medical team, Shea would be able to return to play this season,” said the team’s orthopedic surgeon, Dr. Paul Martineau in a statement. “Unfortunately, after extensive efforts to heal Shea’s injury, progress has not been made as expected. After further exams, and a consultation on Wednesday in Green Bay, Wisconsin with specialist Dr. Robert Anderson, and with Shea’s approval, it has been determined that he should undergo surgery and will be out for the reminder of the season.

“Our medical group will work with Shea to ensure he is pursuing the best course of treatment moving forward, and we expect him to make a full recovery and be ready for the start of training camp next season. The length of his recovery will be determined following surgery, which will be performed by Dr. Anderson.”

The 32-year-old Weber has not played a game since the Dec. 16 outdoor game in Ottawa. Last week, Canadiens head coach Claude Julien said the defenseman’s foot still wasn’t comfortable in his skate and was going get it evaluated to determine a path to recovery. Surgery is now the only way back.

Weber only played 26 games this season, scoring six goals and recording 16 points. It’s the most time he’s missed since 2007-08 when he suffered a pair of leg injuries while with the Nashville Predators. The Habs’ season is long gone, so there’s no reason to put the blue liner, who still has six more seasons left on his contract, at risk.

Now when do the Chicago Blackhawks do the same with Corey Crawford?


Sean Leahy is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at or follow him on Twitter @Sean_Leahy.

P.K. Subban says media, community has influence on Canadiens’ success

Getty Images

Be sure to visit and NBC Olympic Talk for full hockey coverage from PyeongChang

There’s a certain level of scrutiny that comes with playing in a Canadian market.

The fans are perceived to be perhaps fiercer in their loyalty to their team, almost militant at times and when things aren’t going the correct way, tempers flare a little brighter and anger seeps in a little deeper.

There’s also a perception that the media in Canadian markets is tougher, that somehow scribes, radio personalities, and T.V. broadcasters can exert a level of influence that can turn the ship, even if ever so slightly.

Whether any of this is true or not is up for debate.

For P.K. Subban, however, there’s no argument to be made.

These aren’t merely perceptions for No. 76, but rather hard and harsh truths of playing in a hockey-mad market.

“The one thing that’s tough about Montreal, and I tell this to people all the time, is that regardless of what anybody says, the media and the community have an influence on the team,” Subban said in an interview with Sportsnet’s Nick Kypreos that aired on Hockey Night in Canada on Saturday. “That can make it tough at times because there is so much attention on the team, there’s so much attention on its superstars and players.”

Subban garnered much attention during his time in Montreal.

From fights with teammates to silly notions that his personality was too much and wasn’t the right fit for the Canadiens, to the enormous charitable contributions that endeared himself to the city.

Subban was loved and is still loved by the Montreal faithful, evidenced once again on Saturday with a chorus of cheers when he touched the puck in his second trip back to Bell Centre since being traded to the Nashville Predators for Shea Weber in June of 2016.

During his interview with Kypreos, Subban said that for the Canadiens to be successful, the organization essentially needs to shelter its players from the vortex around them.

“I think it takes a very, very strong organization to manage that,” Subban said.  “It has to be managed properly because when that starts to creep in, it’s tough. That’s not on the players to manage. I think that needs to be managed by the organization. That has to be the strongest part of that organization for the team to be successful.”

The debate of who “won” the Subban-Weber trade will rage on for as long as it bloody well wants to. It was a big deal no matter how you slice it and the impact its had on both teams isn’t hidden.

Subban is still the great defenseman he was in Montreal. The Canadiens haven’t been the same without him and the Nashville Predators, arguably, have never been better.

Like the one who got away, Subban’s second return to Montreal on Saturday is just another sad reminder of what was once theirs.

Scott Billeck is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at or follow him on Twitter @scottbilleck

The Buzzer: Pacioretty continues hot streak

Getty Images
1 Comment

Players of the Night:

Max Pacioretty, Montreal Canadiens: Here’s a name you haven’t seen often in these parts this season. But Pacioretty had two goals tonight, the opener for the Canadiens and the game-winner with 1:18 left in the third period to give the Canadiens a 3-2 win over the Washington Capitals. He also added an assist on Montreal’s other goal. Truth be told, Pacioretty has been sizzling lately with six goals and an assist in his past six games.

John Gibson, Anaheim Ducks: Gibson had a quiet night for the most part until the third period, but he was stellar when called upon and made 23 saves, including a second-period beauty (which you will see below) to help his team to a 2-1 win against the Los Angeles Kings.

Highlights of the Night:

James Neal had all the moves to help the Vegas Golden Knights secure a point on the road in a 4-3 overtime loss to the Florida Panthers.

John Gibson got just enough on this puck to redirect it off the post and out for quite the save:

Factoid of the Night:



Panthers 4, Golden Knights 3 (OT)

Canadiens 3, Capitals 2

Ducks 2, Kings 1

Scott Billeck is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at or follow him on Twitter @scottbilleck