After six games in nine days, four of them winning efforts, the Canadiens got a day off Monday. They’ll get three days of practice before heading for Buffalo and the first of back-to-back games with the Sabres Friday and Saturday night. In the five sets of back-to-back games this season. The Canadiens record in these games is 7-3. The loss at Madison Square Garden was the first time they had dropped the back end of the two game sets.
The Habs sent defenseman Nathan Beaulieu and forward Drayson Bowman back to the Hamilton Bulldogs. Beaulieu played in 14 games with the Canadiens this season. The writing on the wall was his inability to handle the speed and skill of the Pittsburgh Penguins last week prompting Canadiens GM Marc Bergevin to acquire Bryan Allen from the Anaheim Ducks. Beaulieu is only 21 years old, an age when most defensemen are in early professional development stages. More than anything, lack of experience is his problem. The same thing holds for Jarred Tinordi who is a year older. Beaulieu played in 14 games with the Habs this season.
The Canadiens are now a forward short on their roster. The last two games, rather than use Bowman who’s NHL skills are marginal, Michel Therrien has opted to use seven defensemen and four forwards. Unless Michael Bournival’s shoulder has healed, the Canadiens are still going to have to look to Hamilton for a 13th forward. Outside of Sven Andrighetto and Charles Hudon who are projected to be top six forwards, the best choices may be veteran centres Gabriel Dumont or T.J. Hensick both of whom have been playing well lately. Dumont is the Bulldogs team captain.
SCHERBAK SUFFERS BACK INJURY
Canadiens 2014 first round draft choice Nikita Scherbak took a hit against the boards Saturday night in a junior game at Seattle and was removed from the ice on a stretcher with what were feared to be a serious back injury. At Valley Regional Hospital in Seattle he passed all tests including MRI scans for fractures. He was discharged without staying overnight, although he did leave the hospital on crutches. Scherbak, who is Everett’s leading scorer, is expected to miss at least a few games.
He has 11 goals and 16 assists in 18 games this season.
HUDON LIGHTING IT UP IN AHL
The Canadiens thought they might have a decent prospect in forward Charles Hudon when they turned him pro in September. Junior scouts were telling mne about his on-ice vision and skills as early as two years ago. Still, Habs have to be pleasantly surprised at just how good his first eighteen games have been in Hamilton.
Sunday afternoon Hudon scored a goal and added two assists in a 5-1 win over the Marlies in Toronto. Hudon leads all Bulldogs scorers with 6 goals and 12 assists with by far the best defensive rating on the team at plus-11. He is now tied for the AHL rookie scoring lead with Boston prospect David Pastrnak of the Providence Bruins. Pastrnak is a former Boston first round draft choice. Hudon was selected by Trevor Timmons and the Canadiens in the 5th round, 122nd overall in 2012.
At 5’10” and 175 pounds, he is another one of those small forwards who seems to play big, He had injury problems in junior hockey, including a couple of concussions, which may have hindered his development. In the AHL it has not been an issue.