The Canadiens scored six goals in winning two of their three games last week. Max Pacioretty was on the ice for three of them, two of which he scored himself. He led the team with 12 shots on goal. Pacioretty has five goals in the eight games since the Canadiens started their bounce-back from that season opening slump. Josh Gorges with the overtime winner against Phoenix was plus-2 for the week. Gorges also teamed with Hal Gill as the primary penalty killing pair that was successful on all nine shorthanded occasions. He also blocked five shots. Brian Gionta seemed to struggle through season’s first ten game segment. There were rumours of minor ailments. He looks healthy now and his goal and assist paved the way to the win in Phoenix on Thursday.
The Little Things – David Desharnais got points on both Canadiens goals in Nashville and centred the Canadiens most effective line, but it was in the faceoff circle that he attracted attention. Overall he won 31 of 48 faceoffs (64%) which is obviously very good. But it was in his own end where he was sensational, winning 15 of 19 defensive zone draws, a stunning 78%.
…..Getting It Back In The Race – If you haven’t noticed, the Canadiens are 6-2-0 their last eight games which has them at .500 once again (7-7-2). Getting over .500 and staying there will be no walk in the park. They face Buffalo Monday night and over the next two weeks face among others, Boston, Philadelphia and Pittsburgh.
…..Not So Special – The Canadiens gave up two shorthanded goals last week bringing their league leading total to four. Piled on that is their special teams which now are minus-2. The Canadiens have scored seven power play goals and have given up nine while shorthanded.
…..The Injury Count – The Canadiens got Scott Gomez and Michael Cammalleri back in their lineup Saturday night leaving four roster players still on the injury list; Markov, Kostitsyn, Campoli and White. Sixteen games into the season the Canadiens man-games lost to injury is 70, an average of 4.4 players missing from their lineup per game.
… .The Back Up – Peter Budaj’s training camp had everyone wondering what Pierre Gauthier might have been thinking when he let Alex Auld go. In his three exhibition starts he let in 12 goals for a 4.80 goals against average and an .862 save percentage. After seeing his performance Saturday in Nashville, the grumblers are feeling a little more confident in Carey Price’s backup. In his two starts he’s allowed three goal for a 1.49 goals against average and .947 save percentage. We’ll be seeing a lot more of him over the next three weeks.
Getting the Point – The Canadiens have scored one goal their last 16 opportunities on the power play and Jacques Martin continues to use Tomas Plekanec on the right point despite. Martin insists he likes his passing and playmaking ability. Most times I’ve seen forwards used on the blueline it’s because they possess a great shot. That is not one of Plekanec’ strengths. The pairings on the power play are for the most part Plekanec and Weber; with Subban and Raphael Diaz getting lesser minutes Among the four, only Plekanec is a lefthand shot, something may figure prominently in Martin;s decision to keep him there.
The Walking Wounded – Michael Cammalleri returned to the lineup after missing a game with some kind of knee or thigh problem. Scott Gomez was back after missing nine games but will be used cautiously while his oblique muscle continues it’s healing process. P.K. Subban tangled with Nashville’s Jordin Tootoo late in the second period Saturday night aggravating a shouder injury he’s been playing through. He missed the first five minutes of the third period. Andrei Kostitsyn has a groin pull and hasn’t played in a week. Those are the things we know about. And the Canadiens eight games the next thirteen days.
Man-Games – On Saturday night, the Canadiens hit the seventy mark in man-games lost due to injury. That’s an average of over four regulars out of the lineup at any given time since the season started. Kostitsyn, along with Andrei Markov, Chriis Campoli, and Ryan White make up the current list. Kostitsyn is the only one not on injury reserve.
Maintaining Discipline – One of the keys to enduring a heavy schedule such as the one the Canadiens face the rest of November is staying out of the penalty box. Through sixteen game the team is averaging just over twelve minutes a game. Reducing that would allow the coaching staff to roll four lines, easing the workload on Plekanec, Cammalleri and Gionta who see time on both the power play and penalty killing units.