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Montreal Canadiens News & Rumors: Tatar, Price, Domi & Weber

The Montreal Canadiens have now lost three straight games. Can the team begin a streak that pushes them into the playoffs?

If the Montreal Canadiens are going to make the postseason playoffs, they’ll have to really go on an extended winning – or even point-scoring – streak. The team missed a chance on Friday evening against the Pittsburgh Penguins to collect points when it lost 4-1. After the first period, the Canadiens really never seemed in the game and the Pens’ three goals in the second sealed the deal.

Granted, playing Sidney Crosby and crew – especially newcomer Jason Zucker, who’s seemed to very suddenly found a home with the Penguins – is no easy task. But then, at this time of the season, there really are few easy tasks left for a team that finds itself scrambling in the position the Canadiens do.

As the team gets ready to play the rising Dallas Stars in the Saturday afternoon Hockey Day in Canada segment, I want to help keep Canadiens fans up-to-date about what news and rumors are emerging from the team.

Related: 3 Teams Show Interest in Ilya Kovalchuk

Item One: Tomas Tatar Is Producing Above His Career Pace

Tomas Tatar scored his 21st goal of the season. There was some thought that Tatar, who had a sore hand, might not be able to play. He had been seen wearing a splint on his hand following Wednesday’s loss to the Boston Bruins. However, he noted after practice on Friday that he sprained his finger a few games ago but was good to go against the Penguins. He was. Good for him, but sadly for the Canadiens, he was one of only a few players who was ready to go. His goal came on a power play during the second period.

There are rumors that Tatar has been coveted by both the Penguins and the Edmonton Oilers and might move by the trade deadline. The Penguins might have filled the hole they believed they had when they dealt for Zucker (one of the good guys in the NHL and well-noted for his community service wherever he plays), but the Oilers still haven’t pulled the trigger on a trade and might be getting a bit antsy with superstar Connor McDavid on the shelf.

I personally like Tatar as a player and have since he played with the Red Wings, but he’s made a home in Montreal and has become a bit of a fan favorite. As a long-time Oiler fan, I think he would be a nice fit; however, I’d also love to see him stay in Montreal. I think he adds to the team on the ice and he’s played well for the Habs.

Tatar also adds to the nature of the community. He’s experienced and still only 29 years old. He’s also scoring well above his career pace and has scored five goals and 18 points in his last 18 games. I hope the Habs keep him.

Item Two: Carey Price Couldn’t Stop the Penguins From Marching

Carey Price has been playing a bunch for the Canadiens; and, usually, his results have been spectacular. He might still be the best goalie in the NHL. However, he had a bit of an off-night against the high-flying (or slow-marching, to keep my metaphors appropriate) Penguins. Price kept the Penguins from scoring in the first period but he ran into a buzz saw named Crosby who set up three Penguins goals during the second period. The Habs couldn’t respond.

During his last 10 games, Price’s record was 6-4-0, but he’d also registered a goals-against-average of 2.10 and a save percentage of .935, which are excellent. Historically, Price hasn’t fared well against Pittsburgh, with a record of 13-13-5 in 32 career games. Price, a certain future Hall-of-Famer, now has lost three straight games and has a 24-21-4 record with a goals-against-average of 2.71 and a save percentage of.912.

Those numbers remain decent, but it shows that the team could use some scoring when Price plays. Specifically, the Canadiens haven’t scored more than two goals in any of their last four games.

Related: Why the Montreal Canadiens Will Trade Ilya Kovalchuk Before the February 24th Deadline

Item Three: Max Domi Is Slumping

One Canadiens player who’s having an especially tough go is Max Domi, who’s been slumping during the second half of the NHL season. However, he’s far from alone in that regard. In total, the Canadiens’ offense has steadily dropped off after such a productive start to the season. Since the All-Star break, the team has averaged only 2.5 goals per game, which is 23rd in the NHL.

Domi is specifically a player who’s been counted on to produce more. He’s only scored three points during his last 16 games. In response, head coach Claude Julien dropped him and not rookie Nick Suzuki from the second line to the third.

The Canadiens’ fate also isn’t helped because team captain Shea Weber has been lost for up to six weeks by a badly sprained ankle. If you’re wondering why such a long period of time away for a sprained ankle, it’s because Weber had injured those same tendons in 2018, and this was an aggravation of a previously bad injury.

What’s Next for the Canadiens?

With the loss to the Penguins, the Canadiens lost their third straight game after winning nine of 12. Head coach Julien outlined the problem for the team when he noted: “You got to deal with your personnel and your players and try and find solutions. So that’s what we’re trying to do.”

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