Week 24 in One Word: Risen

April 17, 2022

Risen

/(ˈrɪzən)/

being or moving higher in position or greater in some value; being above a former position or level

Similar: resurrect, lift, surge, advance, accelerate

restored from death

Week 24 had four games on the docket for the Montreal Canadiens. On Monday, the Habs lost 4-2 to the visiting Winnipeg Jets despite a strong performance from Samuel Montembeault. On Wednesday in Columbus and the Habs were dead as a doornail in a 5-1 loss. On Good Friday the Islanders were in town and Carey Price was solid in his season debut. but it wasn’t enough, and a 3-0 shutout was the result. On Saturday the Habs lost 8-4 to the visiting Washington Capitals.

Here’s how I saw Week 24 go down.

When the 2022-23 season gets under way, Coach Martin St. Louis will have risen above his interim status.

Following the loss on Monday, the coach talked about using the end of the season to “implement the concepts, the culture I’m trying to bring collectively and individually.” That sounds like a guy who is invested beyond the here and now. It sounds like a coach that will lose the interim tag in short order and will rise to a place of prominence in building the new and improved version of the Montreal Canadiens.

As much as we hear from insiders that an extension for Marty is not a done deal, we know HuGo wants him to return, and we know Marty talks like he expects to be back. It feels like a significant hurdle will have to arise in the off-season to kill this relationship.

When you’ve been playing meaningless games since Halloween, it’s hard to rise to the occasion every night.

The Habs were playing some unwatchable hockey before their coaching change, but they have been mostly entertaining since MSL was installed behind the bench. On Wednesday night that all went to shit. They started late, finished early, and screwed the pooch in between.

Playing meaningless games is tough, but some guys have consistently risen to the occasion night after night. The longer he plays under Marty, the more Christian Dvorak looks like the guy we expected from his days in Arizona. He’s the version we expected before he got Dommed down. If he can continue to play like this, and the Habs can rise in the draft order and pick a top six centre, Dvorak is an excellent option in the middle six while the new kid develops.

Ryan Poehling is hoping to see that his stock has risen with HuGo and Marty by the end of the season. Poehling had a couple of strong games this week, but there are nights when he is invisible. He hasn’t been able to get a look above the 4th line, and he’s playing with guys who aren’t part of the future. What does that mean for Poehling’s future with the Habs?

Rising on Good Friday is not the typical order of things, but Carey Price is far from typical.

Carey Price returned to action on Friday night, his first game since July 7th when the Habs were eliminated from the Stanley Cup Final. He was solid and looked like he always does, making things look easy and drama-free. Now we wait – we wait to see if Carey has legitimately risen from a career-compromising injury, or if the games that remain reveal a long-standing issue that cannot be conquered.

One thing that is clear is Price’s importance to the franchise. The Habs have risen and fallen on Carey, and nothing has changed in that regard. The plan is still tied to the fate of Carey Price.

A lost season for the Habs has represented a giant opportunity for some fringe players to demonstrate they could rise above their fringe status.

The waiver wire has been significant for the Habs this year, with three players who were claimed for nothing over the course of the season given an opportunity to rise to the occasion.   

Samuel Montembeault was claimed off waivers from the Florida Panthers when it looked like Price needed additional injury recovery time. Monty found himself in a whole new role when Carey entered the NHL Player Assistance Program. Price’s return was delayed, Allen was in and out with injuries, and on Tuesday the Habs announced Allen would miss the remainder of the season due to a groin injury.

On Saturday night, Monty played his 36th game of the season, and is the goalie who will finish the year having played the most games for the Habs. The kid had played just 25 NHL games in total before being claimed by Montreal. The Habs misfortune was Monty’s time to arise.

The results have been mixed. At times he has battled and performed well, while other nights he can’t stop a beach ball. As with all things for the Habs, the plan for Monty is tangled up in Carey’s future. But Monty has demonstrated he might be ready for a back-up role in the NHL on a team with half decent defence.

The first roster move made by Jeff Gorton after accepting the role of Vice-President of Hockey Operations was to claim Kale Clague off waivers from the Los Angeles Kings. The move was refreshing for fans because it demonstrated that Gorton was aware of the need for puck-moving defencemen. Clague hasn’t exactly risen to take charge of the power play or fill the giant hole that has existed in Montreal. But he has continued developing in the NHL and may have earned a new deal, perhaps from the Habs.

In January, Gorton claimed Rem Pitlick off waivers from Minnesota. After beginning the season in Nashville, Pitlick was waived by the Predators in October. He scored six goals and 11 points in 20 games with the Wild before hitting the waiver wire again. Pitlick joined a beaten down roster and has risen to the occasion in his golden opportunity. In 40 games with the Habs, Pitlick has 7 goals and 15 assists, and the only question remaining is how much for how long.

Here is something to consider. Pitlick has better numbers in less games and less average time on the ice than Mike Hoffman. Are the Habs worsened if they trade Hoffman for peanuts and sign Pitlick for half the price tag?

Some players have risen in value since departing from Montreal, while others need a resurrection.

On Saturday night Phillip Danault scored his 24th goal of the season for the Los Angeles Kings. His pinnacle was 13 goals in Montreal. We’ll never know if this was truly under Marc Bergevin’s control, or if Phil had decided his time was up with the Habs. I wonder what he could have accomplished under Marty – if that price tag would have looked less steep under an offensive-minded coach.

In the meanwhile, Brendan Gallagher is languishing. I know we’re not allowed to give an honest evaluation of the “heart and soul” of the Habs, but I’ll go there, nonetheless. If Gally is still the heart and soul, the Habs are in serious need of a resurrection.

To say Gallagher looks slow out there is like suggesting Niagara Falls looks damp. He’s stumbling around and wildly swinging at pucks when there is no play to be had. He’s looked behind the play on a line that isn’t particularly speedy. Does Gally’s body need a rest? Is it time to shut him down for the season to let him recover from whatever injuries may continue to plague him?

God knows these games are doing nothing to raise his trade value for the off-season.

Published by Lori Bennett

Hockey is my hobby. I love a respectful hockey chat or debate, but it stops being fun if we're jerks.

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