Forward lines and defense pairings
Byron – Drouin – Gallagher
Galchenyuk – De La Rose – Hudon
Lehkonen – Danault – A. Shaw
Deslauriers – Froese – Carr
Reilly – Petry
Alzner – Juulsen
Benn – Lernout
Ales Hemsky – concussion, Shea Weber – lower-body, Carey Price – concussion, Victor Mete – hand, Max Pacioretty – lower-body, David Schlemko – undisclosed, Rinat Valiev – lower-body
With a depleted line-up and playoffs out of the question since January, the Canadiens have a real opportunity to give their young players an opportunity to gain valuable experience. Transition to the NHL is the weakest link in the Canadiens development of prospects and that is primarily the fault of successive head coaches.
Mistakes should be expected with youngsters and can be exacerbated when the head coach is primed to throw these players under the bus, as happened last game.
Following his last recall, in a game once again versus the Lightning on December 28th. Brett Lernout had an equipment issue. It obviously affected his confidence for the remainder of the game.
So full credit to Lernout for a solid performance today against the NHL’s best team. He brought a physical presence in almost 16 minutes of ice-time.
And many fans, pushed by the mainstream media, are triggered to have a knee-jerk negative response to any questionable play by Jacob De La Rose.
Today, De La Rose was flagged for two first period penalties. A high-sticking call wasn’t flagrant but a result of a careless stick. The tripping call was necessary to drag down Steven Stamkos after a bad pass by Noah Juulsen put the Lightning captain in a scoring position.
Fast forward to early in the second period and it was De La Rose who provided the decoy that distracted Louis Domingue enough to be beat by a Alex Galchenyuk shot for the Canadiens second goal.
Patience and opportunity have also been keys to bringing the best out of Artturi Lehkonen and Charles Hudon.
And speaking of opportunities, let’s question two decisions by the head coach. It would have been wise for Julien to add Galchenyuk to his shootout list. And Nikita Scherbak could have played the right wing with Phillip Danault and Artturi Lehkonen rather than being a healthy scratch. Andrew Shaw could have centred the Habs fourth line with Byron Froese in the press box.
▲ Charles Hudon, Artturi Lehkonen, Alex Galchenyuk, Brett Lernout
▼ Jonathan Drouin, Nicolas Deslauriers, Byron Froese, Jordie Benn