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Monday, January 26, 2015

The Good, Average & Poor ... Habs First Half Analysis

Greetings Habs Addicts!


Photo Credit: latimes.com
The NHL All-Star game in Columbus was played yesterday, with Team Toews defeating the hometown team, Team Foligno, by a Lacrosse score of 17-12. That's right. There were 29 goals scored in the game, or basically a goal every two minutes of play. Whether or not they were playing with six attackers each and no goalies has yet to be confirmed. Carey Price was the lone all-star for the Canadiens this year, even though P.K. Subban and Max Pacioretty had numbers deserving of an all-star berth. Price was solid, allowing four goals on 16 shots. Price was also wearing a mike and spent most of his time answering questions from Glenn Healy and providing commentary while making saves. It was a lot of fun to watch.

The All-Star game generally marks what is considered to be the half-way point of the NHL season. As for that, it is time to take a look at the the Montreal Canadiens performance to-date.

Overall Record (29-13-3, 3rd in Atlantic; 4th in the East; 8th overall in the NHL)

The Habs are having another season that places them in the upper echelon of the NHL. Michel Therrien continues to ice a team that does not quit when down in a game, in fact the Habs have had a tendency this year to show up for the second and third periods of games while snoozing through the first periods. The Canadiens are second only to the Buffalo Sabres for least amount of first period goals. But the Canadiens are also amongst the league leaders in third-period goals as a team, illustrating a team that does not quit and gets better as the game progresses. It seems if the Habs can come out of the first period tied or trailing by one, they likely leave with a victory. If they lead after the first, they are almost guaranteed a victory. They have also won seven games in overtime or shootout. Even when they fall behind, they do not quit. Stealing point in games they have no business being in has turned into a trend. Carey Price has been the saving grace to the team this year and should be a front-runner for the Vezina Trophy at the end of the year, if not the Hart Trophy as well. No player has meant more to their team than Price means to the Canadiens.

Statistically, the Canadiens have been good but not as good as their record illustrates. Offensively, the Canadiens average 2.6 goals per game, which is 21st in the NHL. On the power-play, they have been operating at a 17% clip which is also good for 21st in the NHL. They have been inept with the man advantage for most of the season, Of the 23 goals the team has scored with the man-advantage, seven of them have come in the last four games. This may be a sign that things are picking up, in which case the Canadiens can be a force in the second half of the season. They need the power play to step up as its hard to continue winning when one-third of your victories come in one-goal games (11 in 29 wins).

Defensively the Habs have been solid. Michel Therrien has iced a defensively responsible team and the bulk of the credit goes to Carey Price. The Canadiens rank 4th overall in the NHL allowing only 2.4 goals per game. They also kill penalties among the best in the league, operating at an 84.9% clip which is 5th best in the NHL. Solid defensive play has kept the Canadiens in games they had no business being in this year. They have allowed some high shot totals on Price, who thrives with the high workload. They need the offense to catch up because Chris Kreider illustrated to us what happens when Price cannot carry the workload. Dustin Tokarski has been a decent backup, but he cannot take the reigns and run with them.

Forwards

Good - Max Pacioretty leads the team with 21 goals and 38 points in 45 games played. Patches has been consistent this year and entered the break coming off a six-game goal scoring streak ... Tomas Plekanec has been consistent this year with 13 goals and 32 points in 45 games anchoring the second line. Plekanec has had a revolving door of line-mates, but has continued to be the teams best two-way player ... Alex Galchenyuk has been coming into his own and has 12 goals and 31 points in 45 games this year. Chucky has finally moved to the centre spot on the top line where he exploded for his first-career hat-trick in December before being moved back to left wing in recent games ... Dale Weise has carved his niche in Montreal as a feisty spark plug with some skills. Fan favorite Weise has seen power-play time, top line time and has six goals and 16 points in 42 games played and has exceeded expectations of him coming into the season.
Photo Credit: usatoday.com

Average - Brendan Gallagher has continued his pesky ways and is continually driving to the net and providing screens on the power play. Gallagher has 11 goals and 25 points in 45 games, on pace for another 20 goal, 45-50 point season. Typical Gallagher ... David Desharnais struggled early on this year and lost his spot on the top line. Since being separated from Pacioretty, Davey found his niche on the third line as a winger and started shooting more. For the season he has 7 goals and 24 points in 45 games ... Jiri Sekac represented the Canadiens at the All-Star game skills competition as a rookie, but spent a stretch of games as a healthy scratch and has seven goals and 15 points in 38 games. Sekac has tremendous skills and has been one of the best players on the ice a few times. Developing consistency will be the key to his development as the season goes forward ... Brandon Prust is Brandon Prust. Chippy, scrappy and fighting as always, Prust has three goals, 11 points and leads the team with 83 penalty minutes. No one is taking liberties on the Habs young players with Prust in the line-up. For a player who has an injury history due to his playing style, Prust has appeared in all 45 games this season.

Poor - P.A. Parenteau was an off-season acquisition that was expected to provide secondary scoring. While his Corsi stats are solid, he has not found the score sheet at all and has a measly six goals and 15 points in 40 games while dealing with concussion-like symptoms. Parenteau was expected to provide 50-60 points of offense and that has not happened. He is in position to improve in the second half ... Manny Malhotra was brought in to win faceoffs and kill penalties. That he does well. At even strength, he has one assist and is a -8 in 42 games played. That he does not do well ... Lars Eller continues to frustrate fans and coaches alike with his inconsistent play. With a second line skill-set and tons of potential, Eller is backing up his big contract with eight goals and 15 points in 40 games played ... Michael Bournival has had a season lost to injury, but has two goals and one assist in 15 games . He should improve over the second half ... Hamilton Bulldogs' call-ups Sven Andrighetto, Eric Tangradi, Drayson Bowman, and Christian Thomas have combined for two goals and three total points in a combined 25 games played with the big club this season, mostly in fourth-line roles. All three points belong to Andrighetto.

Defence

Good - P.K. Subban is playing at a high level as usual. He has really come on as of late with the recent rebirth of the power play. For the year, Subban has 11 goals and 31 points in 45 games, leading the team with 25:21 in average ice time and is a +7 as well. Subban has seen more time on the penalty kill this year and continues to electrify the crowds with his stick skills ... Andrei Markov continues to defy the clock and has been our most consistent defenseman on a game-to-game basis. Markov has lost a step, but makes up for it with sound positioning and continues to quarterback the power play. Markov has five goals and 26 points in 45 games, 14 of those points coming on the power-play. Markov should have his ice time monitored going forward, as he is averaging over 24 minutes per game, which has worn him down the past two seasons.

Photo Credit: thescore.com
Average - Sergei Gonchar was acquired in a deal for Travis Moen and has provided one goal and ten points in 29 games. Gonchar is the elder statesman on the blue-line at 40 years old and continues to QB the second unit, paired up as a mentor with youngster Nathan Beaulieu ... Beaulieu has finally cracked the line-up full time and has only four assists in 30 games, but has been solid defensively and should continue to improve as the season goes forward.

Bad - Alexei Emelin has one goal and 11 points in 43 games and is a +3. On paper, he looks solid. He continues to hit hard, but not the same bone-crushing hits we've seen in the past. He has been tentative since returning from his knee injury last year and is often out of position, turning the puck over or looking lost. Emelin has been paired up with another disappointment in Tom Gilbert, who has two goals and seven points in 42 games played. Brought in to be a puck-moving, right handed shot on the power-play, Gilbert has been mediocre at best at the two skills he was expected to possess ... Mike Weaver provides leadership and depth to the blue line, blocking shots and killing penalties when he finds his way into the line-up. Age and playing style has caught up to Weaver this season, but he still has four assists in 27 games played ... Jarred Tinordi has appeared in nine games this season, with two assists and a -5 to show for it. He has spent the bulk of his season in Hamilton where he just returned after missing games due to a concussion. This season may be lost for Tinordi at the NHL level.

Goaltending

Good - Carey Price has continued his all-world play this season, compiling a 24-10-2 record with a 2.15 goals-against and a .929 save percentage. He has two shutouts as well. Without Price, the Canadiens are not a playoff team. Period ... Dustin Tokarski took the reigns from Peter Budaj during the playoffs last year and is the backup to Price this season. In 10 games played, Tokarski has a 5-3-1 record with a 2.50 goals-against and a .917 save percentage. If Price were to be injured, Tokarski can handle the load better than Budaj, but is better served as a more than capable backup. Combined, this goaltending tandem is one of the NHL's best.

The Habs return to action on Tuesday, as the Dallas Stars head into Montreal. The Canadiens also face the New York Rangers and Washington Capitals this week and look to continue their winning ways as the latter half of the NHL season commences.

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Nick Malofy is a transplanted Montrealer, currently living in evil LeafLand. He is a contributor here at HabsAddict.com and give him a follow, as he can often be found rambling on Twitter.

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Game 45: Canadiens vs Predators

#MTLHockey Preview

montreal canadiens vs nashville predators

Match Up

After beating the best team in the East on Saturday, the Canadiens (28-13-3) play host to the Central division leading Predators (30-10-4). The game is set to start at 7:30 and airs on RDS and Sportsnet East.

This is the first of two meetings between the Habs and Preds this season, and the only one in Montreal. Last year these team played a pair of tight games, with the Habs losing the first 2-1 on a late goal by Seth Jones and winning the second 4-3 in overtime thanks to a fantastic individual effort from David Desharnais.


What to Watch

Tomas Plekanec had a career night on Saturday with two goals and two assists in Montreal's 6-4 win over the Islanders. Plekanec was playing his third straight game on a line with Max Pacioretty, who picked up a pair of assists of his own on Saturday. Pacioretty's six-game goal streak came to an end last game, but his current seven-game point streak is still intact.

Not only has Filip Forsberg been one of the biggest stories for the Predators this season, he's been a big story in the NHL as the current front-runner for rookie of the year. Forsberg has 39 points in 43 games and a third best +23 rating on the season.

What's at Stake

After beating the Islanders on Saturday, the Canadiens get another chance to prove they deserve to be considered among the league's elite by taking on the NHL's best team in terms of points percentage. The Predators have earned 72.7% of their possible points this season to lead all teams, but the Habs are hot on their heels at 67.0%, good for fifth overall.

Who's Out

All signs point to a return to action for Carey Price, who wasn't dressed for Saturday's game. P.A. Parenteau (concussion) is expected to miss Tuesday's game as symptoms of the concussion he suffered against the Devils earlier in the month have returned.

While Price may be ready to return on Tuesday, Preds netminder Pekka Rinne (knee) won't be back for at least the next few weeks. Eric Nystrom (upper body) and Ryan Ellis (lower body) are also out.

What Else

This is the last game before the Habs break for the upcoming All-Star Game this weekend. When they return to action, the Canadiens will play a stretch of 21 games in 40 days from January 27 to March 7.

The Question Mark

Last game we asked which Hab needs to step up in the second half of the season, this time we want to know which Hab has most surpassed your expectations so far this season.

Tonight's Show

Join host Steven Hindle along with Kosta Papoulias and Rob Elbaz for the Montreal Hockey Talk Pregame Show as we go live at 6:30 to preview the Canadiens and the Predators.

Saturday, January 17, 2015

Game 44: Canadiens vs Islanders

#MTLHockey Preview

montreal canadiens vs new york islanders nhl habs

Match Up

The Canadiens (27-13-3) return home to host the Islanders (30-13-3) Saturday night at the Bell Centre. The game starts at 7:00 and airs on TVA and Sportsnet.

This is the second of three meetings between the Habs and Isles this season, and the only game they'll play in Montreal. The Canadiens beat the Islanders 3-1, thanks in large part to a 37-save performance from Carey Price. The Canadiens were out-shot 38-21 in that game, and 14-3 in the first period alone.

What to Watch

Max Pacioretty has scored seven goals in his last six games. There are only five Canadiens that have more than seven goals all season. Pacioretty is now seventh in the league in goals, and with 158 shots on the season, he's up to fifth in the league in that department.

The Islanders are coming off a 6-3 victory over the Penguins on Friday. Kyle Okposo tallied four goals in the victory including three straight in the third period to put Isles ahead for good in that game. The team's captain and leading scorer, John Tavares, had three assists Friday, giving him 42 points in 44 games this season.

What's at Stake

Saturday night, the Habs have a chance to prove themselves against the best team in the East (it's still hard to get used to that). The Isles are four points ahead of the Habs with the Canadiens holding a game in hand. There's still a lot of hockey left to play this season, but a win on Saturday will give Montreal a big boost heading into next week's All-Star break.

Who's Out

Carey Price is day-to-day with an upper body injury, most likely suffered when Pacioretty shoved Matt Calvert into him during Montreal's 3-2 win over Columbus on Wednesday. The injury likely isn't serious and Price will probably be back in action soon so there's no reason for Habs fans to panic, but don't let that stop you.

The Islanders are without Mikhail Grabovski (lower body), Lubomir Visnovsky (upper body), and Matt Carkner (back).

What Else

The Canadiens are still trying to find their groove in 2015. After wrapping up last year on a 7-1-0 run, they've been less successful in the new year, going 3-2-1 so far this month, and 1-2-1 in their last four games. With the Detroit Red Wings catching the Habs in the standings, and teams like the Bruins, Capitals and Rangers hot on their heels, the team will need to pick up their play to defend their spot in the conference.

The Question Mark

With Carey Price and Max Pacioretty leading the charge recently for Montreal, who else needs to improve their recent play the most to help the Habs to victory?

Tonight's Show

Join host Steven Hindle along with Kosta Papoulias and Rob Elbaz for the Montreal Hockey Talk Pregame Show as we go live at 6:00 to preview the Canadiens and the Islanders.

Thursday, January 15, 2015

Zachary Fucale: Memorial Cup, Gold Medal...Stanley Cup next?

Habs prospect Zachary Fucale was scheduled to start his first game with his new team (Quebec Remparts) last night. After having won the Memorial Cup in 2013 along with the Junior World Championship earlier this year, I thought it would be a good idea to take a look back at Fucale's career and stats to give us an idea of how well he is doing, since many are thinking he is our future in terms of goaltending.

Let's start by looking at his QMJHL regular season stats. Over the past three years (from 2011 to 2014), he managed to keep a record of 113 wins, 32 losses, 12 overtime losses, 8 shootout losses while keeping a 2.59 goal against average and a 0,903 save %. This year, he is going on a 13-9-2 record with a 3.20 GAA and a 0.890%. While he seems to be slumping statistically, we must not forget he was playing for Halifax Mooseheads, who lost their two star players (Nathan MacKinnon and Jonathan Drouin) over the past two seasons. Let's keep in mind he will now be playing for the Quebec Remparts, who will be the host team for the upcoming Memorial Cup. These Remparts have built up a competitive team in order to win the Canadian championship by getting back forward Anthony Duclair from the New York Rangers and trading for defenseman Matt Murphy, so technically, Fucale should start getting more consecutive wins as well as dropping his GAA and raising his save %.

As for his playoffs stats, he went 35-12, keeping a 2.54 GAA and a 0,903%. What this basically means is that whatever the game or the situation he is in, he will be the same goaltender, pressure or not. By keeping pretty much the same stats throughout the entire season (playoffs included), he is proving that he is a reliable goaltender over the long term. 

Not only that, but Fucale went undefeated during the latest Junior World Championship, being Canada's #1 goaltender. During the gold medal game, he had an opportunity to show everyone how he would do under pressure, and he did very good, protecting a one-goal lead up until the very end of the game for a 5-4 win over Russia, especially considering Canada's defense was invisible after their fifth goal.

Last night marked his first start with the Remparts. Fucale got a pretty quiet, albeit solid night, stopping all 11 shots he faced. However, let's just say his entire team played very well, giving pretty much nothing to the Acadie-Bathurst Titan. To give you an idea of how one-sided this game was, at one point during the game, Quebec had more goals than Acadie-Bathurst had shots on Fucale. With 16 more wins, the Rosemere native will be ranked #1 in terms of all-time wins by a goaltender in the QMJHL. Not a small feat

If you were in Marc Bergevin' shoes, would you trade one of Montreal's current goaltenders? Considering Price is being a top 5 NHL goaltender, Tokarski being very promising and Mike Condon doing pretty good with Hamilton, what would you do ?


Follow me on twitter: @Azgarde54

Game 43: Canadiens at Senators

#MTLHockey Preview

Habs Vs Sens Playoffs

Match Up

The Canadiens (27-12-3) are in Ottawa to face the Senators (17-17-8) Thursday night. The game starts at 7:30 and airs on RDS and Sportsnet East.

This is the second of five meetings between the Habs and Sens this season, and the first of two in Ottawa. The Canadiens won the first meeting this season 4-1. Alex Galchenyuk had a goal and an assist, and Max Pacioretty had a pair of assists in the victory.

What to Watch

The Canadiens' power play returned with a vengeance Wednesday against the Blue Jackets, converting three of their seven opportunities. Max Pacioretty scored twice and PK Subban potted his fourth power play goal of the season to help the Habs overcome a 2-0 third period deficit en route to their 3-2 victory.

Mike Hoffman has been the biggest pleasant surprise for the Senators this season, he leads the team with 15 goals and a +18 rating. Bobby Ryan leads the Sens with 30 points on the year, he'll be the team's only representative in next week's All-Star Game.

What's at Stake

The Canadiens are back within striking distance of top spot in the Eastern Conference, sitting one point back of the Lightning and Penguins, and two points back of the Islanders. While the Senators may be division rivals, their .500 record has them 15 points back of the Habs at the midway point, so it's safe to say this isn't a four-point game for the Canadiens.

Who's Out

The Canadiens are healthy again heading into Thursday's action, despite a scare to Carey Price in Wednesday's game. Blue Jackets forward Matt Calvert was sent barrelling into Price at the end of the first period, but Price stayed in net to finish the game. Still with matches on back-to-back nights, expect Dustin Tokarski to get the call in Ottawa.

The Senators are missing noted tough guy Chris Neil (knee), along with Zack Smith (wrist) and Mark Borowiecki (leg).

What Else

The Canadiens have won six straight on the road heading into Ottawa on Thursday. Their 14-7-1 record on the road is among the best in the NHL, behind only the Islanders in terms of road wins and points. In fact, with 29 points on the road, the Canadiens have earned as many points away from the Bell Centre as the Oilers have collected so far this season!

The Question Mark

What was your first impression of the Plekanec, Pacioretty, Gallagher line?

Tonight's Show

Join host Steven Hindle along with Kosta Papoulias and Corey Collard for the Montreal Hockey Talk Pregame Show as we go live at 6:00 to preview the Canadiens and the Blue Jackets.

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

Does the Future Look bright for the Habs... or Not?

Trevor Timmins, what has he done for our Habs since taking over as head of scouting in 2003?

As any one who follows hockey will tell you, getting the draft selections right can make you a Stanley Cup contender.

However, if you get them wrong too many times then you will be a perennial bottom-half dweller.
So getting back to Mr. Timmins, how has he done?

His first go around was in 2003, a stacked draft year. In my opinion he real messed it up at his first draft. At the 10th pick overall, he selected Andrei Kostitsyn. At the 40th and 61st picks he selected Cory Urquhart (who you ask) and Maxim Lapierre. Andrei was okay when he played with Kovy and Pleky a few years back, but then disappeared. Lapierre was never more than a fourth liner at best and Urquhart is a no show.

Who could have Timmins selected? Well, it is an impressive list I am about to share, and it makes you cry when you think we could have had even one of these guys instead of what we did get. How about Jeff Carter, Dustin Brown, Brent Seabrook, Zach Parise, Ryan Getzlaf, Ryan Keslar, Corey Perry, Patrice Bergeron, Shea Weber, and David Backes. Anyone of those guys would be a huge help to our Habs today. How he could have missed this talent pool and picked what he did I will never understand.

However, I will give him a little bit of a break since it was his first time at the draft table. What about his second sit down at the draft table? In 2004 he selected Kyle Chipchura at the 18th selection. Who could he have selected instead and was still available instead of Chipchura? How would Travis Zajac look with the CH on his chest? What about Andrej Meszaros, Jeff Schultz, Mike Green, or David Krejci. So in my opinion year two was another big bust.

In 2005, we had the 5th pick overall and selected Carey Price. Nicely done Monsieur Timmins. Our next pick at the 45th spot was Guillaume Latendresse. Big G. never did pan out now did he? Who could be in a Habs uniform instead of Big G.? How about Kris Letang, Adam McQuaid, Keith Yandle, or Mason Raymond. Anyone of these guys could have been had instead of Latendresse.  But he did give us Carey Price, so we will forgive him for 2005 misses. Can you imagine Letang and Subban on the power play today, man that would be something special to watch. And throw in McQuaid's mean streak (which we dearly lack in our line-up today), boy would Price drool at having those two defend his crease today instead of what we currently have.

In 2006, Timmins' fourth time at the draft table. What did he do this time? So far the only good thing he has accomplished is Carey Price. Well in 2006 Mr. Timmins did not do well again. He had the 20th pick and he selected David Fischer. Another colossal failure. He followed that selection with Mathieu Carle (not Matt Carle) and Ben Maxwell. Neither of these two are doing anything significant today to warrant any excitement at their future contributions to the Habs. Now who could  have Monsieur Timmins giving us instead? How would Claude Giroux fit our needs today? Or how about Nick Foligno? And here is a real kicker; as much as I despise these two because they play for the Bruins I would have loved to have them join the NHL in a Habs uniform. Picture what a difference a Milan Lucic and a Brad Marchand could have done for us if they were selected instead of Maxwell and Carle. As much as I detest Lucic now, I would have loved him in a Habs uniform from day 1. So 2006 is another bust of a draft year for Mr. Timmins.

In 2007, his fifith draft I would say Mr. Timmins redeemed himself. He had the 12th pick and selected Ryan McDonagh. (Unfortunately Mr. Gainey in his infinite wisdom traded him away for a bag of hockey pucks (Gomez) to the Rangers.) He followed that up with Big Max Pacioretty and PK Subban. So 2007 was a win no matter how you look at it. He gave us two of our present day superstars who should be around for a long time.

For 2008, we did not have any first round picks because we traded those away. In the second round we received from Mr. Timmins, Danny Kristo and Steve Quailer. Neither of these two would make the Habs's current edition. Who could have been selected in this weak draft year? Well Zack Smith was available along with Adam Henrique and T.J. Brodie. I know, no big super stars but again much better than what we received. So 2008 we can say was a white wash since we never had a first round pick.

Mr. Timmins once again had a weak draft in 2009. We had the 18th selection and picked Louis Leblanc. Leblanc as his name may suggest was a huge blank. Never materialized into anything resembling a prospect. The very next pick was a guy named Chris Kreider. Remember him? He totally destroyed our cup dreams last year when he ran over Price and over our defense every time he entered our zone. After Leblanc we received Joonas Nattinen and Mac Bennett. Who could have been selected? How about Marcus Johansson or Ryan O'Reilly. So 2009 a lost draft year for the Habs.

In 2010, Timmins' 8th try was a good one. He gave us Gallagher and Tinordi. So it is safe to say that no matter who else was available we are definitely happy with Gallagher and the big potential of Tinordi.


As we get to the present years of 2011-2014 the jury is still out on the talent selected. Here are the highlights of those draft years. In 2011, we drafted Nathan Beaulieu in the first round and then did not have a pick until the third round. In 2012, that is when we had the third pick overall and selected our future #1 center in Alex Galchenyuk. That same draft we selected some high potential players in Tim Bozon and Charles Hudon. Both are doing very nicely in their present clubs (Kootenay and Hamiton) and should challenge for positions on the big club in the near future.

2013 saw the Habs get bigger with the 25th pick on Michael McCarron who says he wants to be compared to a Milan Lucic type of player). The next selection was Jacob De La Rose followed by Zachary Fucale and Sven Andrighetto with Martin Reway shortly after. Each one of these selections has high potential to make the big club and make an impact soon. Andrighetto already has several points in his short stint with the big club and showed he has NHL calibre speed and the hands to go with it. Reway had an excellent juniors tournament over the Christmas break as did De La Rose. The only knock I have against Reway and Andrighetto is they are both small players, neither stands over six feet. 2014 saw the addition of Nikita Scherbak, a big fast forward that the Habs need. So far he is excelling with the junior team (Everett Silvertips of the WHL) and looks to have huge potential in the next year or two, plus his 6' 2" frame will definitely be welcomed to the Habs line-up.

So the jury is still out on the last few draft years. We will wait and see how these selections mature and if they can contribute to the big club; and not as a fourth liner either. We have an abundance of fourth liners. Our best draft years were 2005 with Price; 2007 with Max Pac and Subban and 2012 with Galchenyuk. Other than that, the selections by Timmins have not really helped our club. Now I know there are some out there who say Timmins has one of the better records on his selections making the NHL. Yes but how many fourth liners does a club need. The draft is where you find your future stars. Other clubs have done a much better job at selecting players who can be a top-six forward or a top-four defenseman. Just review all the missed opportunities we have had with Timmins in charge. I say he needs to re-evaluate his scouting team because they are not up to were they need to be if the Habs are going to win another Stanley Cup.

What do you think? Are you happy as a Habs fan with what Timmins has brought to the table since 2003 or do we need to revamp the scouting department? Let me know your thoughts. Thanks.

Game 42: Canadiens at Blue Jackets

#MTLHockey Preview

montreal canadiens vs columbus blue jackets nhl 

Match Up

The Canadiens (26-12-3) are in Columbus Wednesday night to face the Blue Jackets (18-19-3). The game is set to start at 7:00 and airs on RDS and Sportsnet.

This is the first of three meetings between the Habs and Jackets, and the first of two in Columbus. Last season the Canadiens won two of their three games against the Blue Jackets, including a 3-2 shootout victory in Columbus. The Habs erased a two-goal deficit and David Desharnais scored the only goal in the shootout to seal the victory.

What to Watch

It looks like the Canadiens will try a new look on the man advantage in Columbus, as coach Michel Therrien looks to spark the fourth worst power play in the league. In their last seven games, the Habs have scored just once in 21 opportunities.

Look for PK Subban to play the point on the first unit with Desharnais, P.A. Parenteau, Max Pacioretty and Brendan Gallagher up front, while the second unit should consist of Andrei Markov, Sergei Gonchar, Tomas Plekanec, Lars Eller and Alex Galchenyuk.

Injuries have taken their toll on the Blue Jackets this season, but Nick Foligno and Ryan Johansen have managed to stay healthy and lead the way this year. Foligno has 40 points in 39 games including ten points in his last seven. Johansen is right behind him for the team lead with 39 points on the year, he's in the midst of a ten-game point streak.

What's at Stake

Although they earned a point Saturday night against the Penguins, the Habs lost their second consecutive game for the first time since the first week of December. The losing streak hasn't hurt the Canadiens too badly yet, they're still the top team in the Atlantic in terms of point percentage, but they still trail the Lightning by three points heading into Wednesday's action.

Who's Out

With Parenteau set to return, the Habs are healthy again. The only other change to the line-up could be on defense, where Mike Weaver might play Wednesday in place of the struggling Alexei Emelin.

The Blue Jackets have been without Nathan Horton (back) all season. Ryan Murray (knee) has also missed most of the year, but he has started to practice again. Artem Anisimov (triceps), Brian Gibbons (knee), Boone Jenner (back) and Jack Skille (lower body) are also out.

What Else

In just over a week, Columbus will play host to this year's NHL All -Star Game. Only Carey Price was named to the All-Star team from the Canadiens, although Jiri Sekac was selected to take part in the rookie skills competition, filling in for an injured Tanner Pearson. Despite an impressive first half of the season, PK Subban was not named an All-Star this year, although there is a chance he'll be called to fill in for the injured Victor Hedman.

The Question Mark

We want to hear from you, express your outrage at the fact that PK wasn't selected as an All-Star this season.

Tonight's Show

Join host Steven Hindle along with Kosta Papoulias and Rob Elbaz for the Montreal Hockey Talk Pregame Show as we go live at 6:00 to preview the Canadiens and the Blue Jackets.