Tomas Plekanec (Photo by TVA Sports)

by Chris G, Senior Writer, All Habs Hockey Magazine

LAVAL, QC. — The Canadiens picked up a win against the Penguins on Saturday night. The Habs managed to win the game after trailing 2 to 0 after 20 minutes and without their star goaltender, Carey Price. We also discovered that the players will be awarding a jacket (I’m being nice) to the team’s player of the game. Tomas Tatar modelled the coat first as he was given the recognition after scoring twice against the Penguins.

The Canadiens finish their four-game home stand as they host the Red Wings on Monday night and the Blues on Wednesday night. Tomas Plekanec is one game shy from the 1,000 game plateau and he should reach that mark this week.

Here are my top 5 takes of the week:

      1. Waivers – Nicolas Deslauriers and Jacob De la Rose should be cleared to return to play sooner than later. As they are cleared, the Canadiens will need to move a player to make room for them, assuming that no other injuries occur until then. On Thursday’s edition of TSN’s insider trading,  Bob McKenzie reported that Marc Bergevin has told the other 30 General Managers that he’s open to trading a forward. The strategy would be that he would trade a forward for a draft pick or for a player that can be assigned directly to the Laval Rocket. This would avoid that the Canadiens lose a player for nothing through the waiver wire. Let’s go through a quick exercise and try to evaluate the potential of losing someone on waiver wire. I think the players that Bergevin would consider for waivers are Nicolas Deslauriers, Jacob De La Rose, Matthew Peca, and Nikita Scherbak. From that list, my choice would be Peca. He has been used as a fourth-line center and that role can be filled by Plekanec and De La Rose. Even though he hasn’t played yet this season, an offence that is searching for goals can use Scherbak in its lineup. If Bergevin goes through to the trade route, Scherbak will probably fetch the biggest return.
      2. Drouin critics  – Prior to Saturday’s game against the Penguins, the pitch forks were out for Jonathan Drouin as he still hadn’t recorded a point but moreso for his disinterested play. There’s no debate on the fact that Drouin hadn’t played good hockey this season. Drouin said it himself prior to Saturday’s game. In order to stimulate Drouin, Claude Julien put him on a line with Max Domi and Artturi Lehkonen. Domi is a natural play-maker who’s had a good start and Lehkonen is a talented winger that puts in an effort consistently. The result was that Drouin played his best game of the season and one of his best games since joining the team. “He skated and played with a lot of passion tonight,” said Julien after the game. Julien rewarded him for his involvement and compete level by giving him the most ice time among all Canadiens forwards on Saturday and an opportunity in the shootout that he capitalized on. I think that we should all take a deep breath and remember that they are only four games into the season.
      3. Power-play struggles  – Through four games, the Canadiens power-play is 2-for-17 (11.8%). If their objective for the season is to earn a playoff spot, they need to improve their results with the extra attacker. Asked about it on Friday, Claude Julien said that the season is still young and that there’s a lot of new players. Julien and his coaching staff need to figure out a solution for the power-play quickly. My suggestion would be to remove Joel Armia from the power-play and give extra time to Jesperi Kotkaniemi or Arturri Lehkonen.
      4. Goal review – On Thursday, we saw Victor Mete‘s first career goal get disallowed, allowed, and then disallowed again. There were two elements that were being reviewed, whether the puck had been dislodged from the goaltender’s glove and whether Andrew Shaw interfered with the goalie. Even though I agree with the final decision that was made, that whole process was way too long. We see lengthy goal reviews regularly across the NHL, and I won’t even get into the skate in the air offside reviews. To speed up the process, I suggest that the NHL implements a system similar to the NFL, where every scoring play gets automatically reviewed by the off-ice officials. This would speed up the game, as the league officials would already begin reviewing while the players are celebrating and setting up for the face-off. When video replay was implemented in the NHL, I wanted teams to have the possibility of challenging any decision on the ice, but unless they make significant changes to speed up the process, I think it should stick to scoring plays only.
      5. TSN skips ceremonies – In a recent interview with the Montreal Gazette, TSN executive producer, Paul Graham, mentioned that last year’s ratings dropped 25 percent for Canadiens broadcasts compared to the previous season when the games were broadcast on Sportsnet. Just like RDS and TVA Sports, Graham blamed the Habs poor performance as the main factor behind that drop. I agree that it was the main factor, but I think that TSN can do more to help the quality of the broadcast. I’m not saying that they need to broadcast hours of Habs programming to lead into the  game, but a 30-minute Canadiens-focused pre-game show would help. A couple of weeks ago, I mentioned that I would give TSN the opportunity to win me over as a viewer, and they did, kinda. Whistle to whistle, I watch the TSN broadcast, while I watch pregame and post-game coverage on RDS. With that pattern, I’m able to watch the national anthems during home games, and I was able to see the opening ceremonies on Thursday live in its entirety. TSN viewers missed about twelve minutes of the ceremonies on Thursday and left TSN viewers scrambling to find an alternative way to watch.

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