Forward lines and defense pairings
Galchenyuk – Drouin – Byron
Pacioretty – Danault – Shaw
Hudon – Plekanec – Gallagher
Deslauriers – De La Rose – Froese
Alzner – Petry
Morrow – Benn
Schlemko – Jerabek
Brandon Davidson, Victor Mete
Ales Hemsky – concussion, Nikita Scherbak – knee, Al Montoya – concussion, Artturi Lehkonen – lower-body, Shea Weber – lower-body
After 26 games, the Canadiens have 25 points placing them 25th in the NHL. Yet Montreal finds themselves four points out of a wild card spot and just one point behind the Bruins who occupy the third spot in the Atlantic division. The Bruins have three games in hand.
Consequently, the Rasmus Dahlin chatter has been silenced with the Canadiens back in the playoff conversation. Also rather quiet these days are those who were, not so long ago, were jumping on the ‘trade Price’ bandwagon. And those whining about his contract that is not yet in force.
There is good reason.
Price has been the genesis of the Canadiens rebound. Since his return, Price has stopped 100 of 102 opposition shots. In three games, Price has given up one even-strength goal.
With the Habs scoring just one even-strength goal in each of those three games, it has been up to Price to carry the load. Now, can we talk about his current contract? Is there a bigger bargain in hockey than Carey Price?
There have been baby steps when it comes to improvements in the Canadiens defense. In the absence of Shea Weber, Jeff Petry has taken on a bigger role. But it hasn’t been blemish free as we saw in the first period of tonight’s game as Petry offered little resistance to Mark Stone’s shorthanded goal.
Karl Alzner appears that he is adapting to coach Julien’s defensive scheme. Jordie Benn is a serviceable third-pairing defenseman but has been put in a role above his head far too often this season.
David Schlemko was fine for his debut in a Canadiens jersey. He made smart plays and was able to move the puck but Schlemko was guilty of a few gaffes in the first period. Jakub Jerabek has been steady since his addition to the lineup bringing consistent performances to the third-pairing like we have yet to see this season.
But where is the corresponding improvement on offense? As mentioned, the Canadiens scored just three even-strength goals in the past three games.
And it can’t be ignored that wins came against two of the three worst teams in the Eastern conference. The Senators have won just two of their last ten games.
So before you start making those playoff plans, Marc Bergevin has some work to do to make this brief upswing into something more permanent and reliable.
▲ Carey Price
▼ Nicolas Deslauriers, Byron Froese, Alex Galchenyuk