A Busy Game Day: Canadiens vs Wild
For the second time this season, the Habs have put a veteran on waivers and this time, it's David Schlemko that has been chucked overboard. With Juulsen injured in Laval, it means that Karl Alzner remains as the 7th D-man in Montreal. Schlemko has an annual salary of 2.1 million and is signed through the end of next season, compared to Alzner's 4.625 million price tag and 2 more season of term, he's a lot expensive to claim. Chances are though, he'll clear waivers and land in Joel Bouchard's capable hands. Speaking of waivers, Nikita Scherbak had also been submitted to the same treatment by the Kings yesterday and went unclaimed. The former first round pick has been re-assigned to the Kings AHL affiliate, the Ontario Reign, it remains to be seen if he'll accept to go or if he'll be tempted to head to the KHL.
This afternoon we also heard that Carey Price would not be going to the All-Star Game. While Price had said he did plan on going, Marc Bergevin came back from the World Junior Championships and after meeting with Price and the team doctors, the general manager decided that Price needed his rest. In his presser, Bergevin did however mention that Price is a professional and understand that his team is more important than a star studded exhibition game. Bergevin also confirmed that as per league policy, Price will have to miss a game since he's refusing to go to the ASG. It can either be the one just before the game or the one just after. Chances are he'll miss the one against New Jersey as the Habs come back from the break with back to back games during a weekend.
Marc Bergevin's presser
-Bergevin had clearly seen the end of the year special in Québec as he gave us in own rendition of the sketch which featured Molson and himself in the end of year post mortem. A bit of auto derision is always a good thing and the journalists did seem to appreciate the GM's joke
-When asked if Carey Price was currently at 100%, Bergevin said: "You want a precise number? I'll say he's at 87.3%" but he then proceeded to explain that about a quarter of his line-up is not 100%.
-Bergevin was also asked if Claude Julien had used the right terminology when he described Carey Price's injury as an "irritation" in French. The general manager did confirm that perhaps his coach had not used the right word there.
-It's now clear that the Canadiens will still be trying to get into the playoffs in the second half of the season but that they will not be renters. Bergevin does not intend to give away assets and mortgage the future to get some help for the present.
-The GM also said that if his counterparts call to ask him to trade the prospects who played in the WJC, the conversations would be short. That declaration will no doubt be welcomed by the fans but Bergevin had said something quite similar about Sergachev before shipping him to Tampa Bay for Drouin.
-The Canadiens could be interested in trading older players to carry on with their "reset" at the deadline even if they are still in the playoff race. Bergevin of course stopped short of mentioning which players could be on the move but the names of Tatar and Petry come to mind. Although the later has got a no movement clause which means that he can submit a list of 15 teams he does not want to be traded to.
-He intends to let Ryan Poehling finish his season at St. Clouds' State before talking about a contract. Habs fans will be hoping that this signing happens sooner rather than later as Poehling could chose to just wait out another year with St. Cloud and then sign with whoever he pleases as a free agent. However, considering Montreal's need at centre, it would be surprising to see him go down that route.
Unlike Saturday, the Canadiens were ready to play tonight. They came out strong but they had their legs cut underneath them at 2:28 when Kenny Agostino was ejected for a late hit on Eric Fehr and fought a Wild player as well. During the resulting power play, the Wild had 6 shots on goal but Carey Price managed to keep them all out of the goal. Worrying moment later in the first frame as Shea Weber took a puck straight to the face. He was cut and looked in pain but managed to finish the period. However, he didn't come back from the 2nd and the Canadiens confirmed that he would miss the rest of the game. Montreal travels to Detroit tonight for tomorrow's game and Weber will be making the trip. Julien confirmed post game that there was no fracture and that he expected his captain to be available tomorrow although he stopped short of confirming he'd play. The Habs finished the first period with 11 shots to the Wild's 9 but Minnesota was near unbeatable in the face-off circle winning 14 out of 19. Both teams went back to their respective locker room with nothing to show for their effort.
From the start of the second, the Canadiens were short 2 players, 16 skaters for 40 minutes is somewhat of a tall order but the Habs managed to get another 11 shots in the 2nd period but most of those were not a threat for Dubnyk. Jeff Petry struggled in the 2nd period and gave a couple of gifts to the Wild in scoring position but they failed to capitalize. It was far from an interesting period and it certainly will not make history.
As for the third period well, it started with a familiar sight tonight, a Petry turnover. This time though, the Wild didn't miss its opportunity and Granlund scored what would end up being the game winning goal. Petry really wasn't having a good game as he was in Price's way to attempt to make the save. There isn't much to say about the rest of the game although I should mention that Domi didn't like a hit he received and went after Pateryn to make up for it. Thankfully, Pateryn wasn't smart enough and hit him back which meant that both were sent off for 2 minutes. While I love Domi's skills and energy, he is rather easy to get off his game when he is frustrated....there's no denying who is father is. In the end, Dubnyk made 32 saves to record a shutout and the Canadiens lost to the Wild for the 9th time in a row. The Habs' last win against Minnesota came on November 9, 2014. The Sainte-Flanelle missed its chance to get back in the playoff picture and that could end up being costly.
The Canadiens will be back on the ice tomorrow night against Detroit and they'll have to win this one, they simply cannot afford to drop another 2 points if they are to remain in the playoff race.