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This Week in Habs Nation - January 6

January 6, 2019, 6:48 PM ET [93 Comments]
Karine Hains
Montreal Canadiens Blogger • RSSArchiveCONTACT
There's never a dull moment in Habs nation. This time last week, most of the fans were asking for Antti Niemi's head after he had given 9 goals in 2 games while Carey Price was on the injured reserve list. Thankfully for the back-up, he stood tall against the Dallas Stars on New Years Eve leading the Tricolore to a 3-2 overtime win with a 45 saves performance.

It was also a good night for Philip Danault who added a couple of goals to his account and for Jeff Petry who scored the game winner 14 seconds into to OT period. Unfortunately, it wasn't good news for everyone since Andrew Shaw had to leave the game and he hasn't been seen on skates since. Claude Julien has refused to confirm that he suffered a concussion but he has however said that given his medical history he is currently undergoing to concussion protocol even though he qualifies the injury as a neck injury which caused headaches. Just as Shaw fell, Joel Armia was ready to step back into the fold and claim his spot back on the 3rd line effectively reforming the "Finnish line" with Kotkaniemi and Lehkonen. His return to action has also meant that Gallagher has been moved to the second power play unit while Armia slots in on the first one...the results have not been convincing so far but the fact is that the power play has been anything but convincing since the start of the season.

Armia wasn't the only one to come back into play as Carey Price looked calm, collected and focused in his return against the Canucks. His positioning and tracking of the puck were spot on and he earned his second shutout of the season with 33 saves (funnily enough, his first one was also a 33 save performance). Price now only needs 13 wins to overtake Jacques Plante as the goaltender having won the most games as a Montreal Canadiens. If everything goes according to plan, he should be able to pass the legend before the end of the season. Jesperi Kotkaniemi took some eat on social media after this game as masses of Canucks fans accused him of attempting to injure Elias Pettersson on purpose. Thankfully, the MRI revealed that the Canucks star rookie has a slight strain of the MCL, it could have been much worst.

We also learnt this week that Carey Price would be the Canadiens' representative at the All-Star Game a couple of days after Alexander Ovechkin announced that he would be skipping the annual star studded show to get some rest (could Ovi's summer of celebration have finally caught up to him?). Price has since said that he is indeed planning to go right now even though he is still managing a nagging injury which has been an irritant for him for the last 7 weeks. I think a majority of Habs fans would prefer to see him join Ovi rather than be tested on numerous breakaways in some furious 3 on 3 mini-games... Time will tell if he will indeed make it.

Team Canada was unceremoniously dismissed from the World Junior Championships when it fell in overtime to Team Finland. Unfortunately for the captain Shea Weber, he had taken a bet with Lehkonen that Canada would prevail and as he lost, he had to wear a Finland T-Shirt when he met the media the next day. Kotkaniemi decided to get in on the joke and hijack a reporter's microphone to ask his captain which team was his favorite:

That went down much better than when Subban made a reporter out of himself a few years ago. This room is clearly more relaxed and friendly these days and it looks like there are no attitude problems this season...perhaps letting go of Pacioretty and Galchenyuk and bringing Domi and Tatar aboard did the trick.

This week also saw Jeff Petry pocket the December portion of the Molson Cup after a fantastic 12 points performance in 15 December games. It was only the second time of his time with the CH that he earned the award and it was definitely deserved.

Unfortunately, on Saturday night, the Habs were an easy prey for the Predators who dominated the game from start to finish to claim a 4-1 victory and leave Montreal with 2 more points while the Habs fell out of the second wild card spot since the Islanders were victorious in their own Saturday duel. The New York outfit now has a point lead over the Canadiens but both teams have played the same number of games. The Canadiens do have a 6 points lead over the Carolina Hurricanes who currently sit in 10th place.

The Canadiens prospects looked rather good at the WJC. Ylonen left Canada with a gold medal around his neck while Ryan Poehling and Cayden Primeau had to settle for the silver and Alexander Romanov and Russia claimed the bronze medal. It's worth mentioning that Romanov was elected as best d-man of the tourney while Ryan Poehling was its MVP. This will be a small consolation for the centre however as he looked absolutely gutted after Finland had won the gold against his country. It's safe to say that Poehling will probably be seeing the lost face-off that led to the game winning Finnish goal in his nightmare. Seeing the youngster in tears was yet another reminder of how much this tournament and playing for their country means to these players. Even though Canada bowed out before the medal round, it was once again a great tournament to watch and it showed Habs fans that the future is indeed bright!

The Habs will have a busy week as they'll face Minnesota on Monday, Detroit on Tuesday, the Blues on Thursday and the Avalanche on Saturday. This is the first of 2 consecutive 4 game weeks and enjoy them because in the 2 weeks following these, you'll only get one Habs game... The All Star Game break and the obligatory 5 days off for each team combining to result in the scheduling abnormality.
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