Canadiens Week 5 Wrap Up: Jeff Halpern and Friends Sweep the Thumbs Up Honors
November has officially begun, a month of Christmas shopping, snow and more importantly..my birthday. Please forward all your gifts on or before November 30th to my P.O. Box; personal message me and I will gladly give you the address.
The 11th month on the calendar, the second in the hockey world. The Montreal Canadiens were looking to start it off with a bang as they searched to emulate October's performance. The result was lopsided as they rounded off the week with only one win in three tries.
Let's drop the puck with a little scoreboard recap for those of you that were too busy Googleing your own names.
Tuesday, November 2nd
Montreal Canadiens 0 @ Columbus Blue Jackets 3
Friday, November 5th
Montreal Canadiens 3 @ Buffalo Sabres 2
Saturday, November 6th
Ottawa Senators 3 @ Montreal Canadiens 2
This week saw a lot more experiments made by the coaching staff, switching line combinations and making a few powerplay adjustments that I personally had been screaming for early on in the season. Glad to know the message was received even if it was a few weeks later.
More importantly, a new line gained a great amount of notoriety with their strong play given their position on the depth chart. The PhD (Pouliot, Halpern and Darche) line looks like it's the only one that has a real sense of stability and should not be broken up under any circumstances.
A nickname they earned not only because of the first letters of their last names as Mathieu Darche attended McGill University and Jeff Halpern went to Princeton. PhD just seems like a very adequate fit in this case.
It can also be said that they play a very pleasurable brand of intelligent hockey. Confusing the opposing team's defensive coverage and disrupting the play up the middle. Pouliot dangles it in, Darche is the bait and Halpern causes trouble at center.
Will the Jeff Halpern detractors please stand up? Yeah, I thought you wouldn't.
They remain the only line that feels like it's actually clicking offensively besides the little glimpses of success we saw from Tomas Plekanec and friends early on. "Thumbs Up" to you PhD line.
Everyone else on the squad was plain as pie. No one particularly stood out; no one particularly looked motivated to do so.
Lars Eller was scratched for the first time of the season during Saturday's contest against the Ottawa Senators. I've said it before and I will continue saying it, if Eller cannot be of assistance here and his talents are not presently acknowledged by the coaching staff, he needs to be on the first line in Hamilton.
American Hockey League top performer David Desharnais is making a strong push for a call-up and if nothing materializes in the next few games, Montreal will have no choice but to oblige. New hungry players always seem to give the true competitors on the squad a minuscule boost. Time for some new blood.
Speaking of Bulldogs representatives, Max Pacioretty came out of his Hamilton hiding spot to speak to the Montreal media this week. The result was quite confusing considering his situation. Pacioretty explained his desire to stay with the Bulldogs organization for the whole season. Feeling that this would better aid his development.
Let me remind you that he's currently on a contract year, that decision is unfortunately not up to him. If Mr. Pacioretty has any gripes with the way he's being coached on the Island, it needs to be addressed behind closed doors. The media has no power over this and it does nothing else but tarnish his image. A big "Thumbs Down" to you my friend.
Something must be said about Michael Cammalleri's recent performances. Don't get me wrong: Beyond my neutral reviews and analysis, you won't find a bigger supporter of No. 13. Might have to do with our Italian heritage or just the fact that he has one of the most blistering wristers in all of hockey.
What worries me is not the little drought he's in at the moment; that can be fixed by burying one from his newly acquired point position on the powerplay. The flood gates open, and Cammy goes back to point-per-game production.
The aforementioned slump is getting to him, and he looks like he's growing increasingly frustrated with the whole situation. Cammalleri has recently been taking very bad penalties at inopportune times, and this trend needs to stop.
We all saw what a high level of competitiveness does to a player when we witnessed Sidney Crosby going ape-poop on Dallas Stars defender Matt Niskanen. Fighting is one thing; it happens every so often. Getting dumb penalties is highly unacceptable. "Thumbs Down" to you, Michael Cammalleri.
Here's what's ahead for the Canadiens as they look to bounce back from last week's performance.
Tuesday, November 9th
Vancouver Canucks @ Montreal Canadiens
Thursday, November 11th
Montreal Canadiens @ Boston Bruins
Saturday, November 13th
Carolina Hurricanes @ Montreal Canadiens
That's pretty much it for this weeks folks. As usual I hope you enjoyed it; for you Quebec residents, remember that you have until November 15th to equip your vehicle with winter tires. That's your random piece of information of the day.
Until next time, you stay classy Montreal.
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