The long wait to see David Schlemko on the Montreal Canadiens blue line is over. Schlemko has been sidelined since training camp. Following hand surgery in New York to remove a bone fragment, he has recently been practicing with the team and had some conditioning stints with the Laval Rocket. It is expected that Schlemko will finally debut against divisional rival the Ottawa Senators.
Weber is skating at Brossard, as is Mete — which would suggest he will be a healthy scratch tonight to make room for Schlemko’s #Habs debut, 26 games into the season.
— John Lu (@JohnLuTSNMtl) November 29, 2017
Montreal Canadiens David Schlemko Will Debut Against Ottawa Senators
General manager Marc Bergevin acquired Schlemko from the Vegas Golden Knights in exchange for a 2019 fifth-round draft pick. The 30-year-old has been out since the start of training camp. Schlemko put up only two goals and 18 points in 62 games with San Jose last year. Overall, in a career spanning 360 NHL games, he has scored 17 goals and 87 points. Sam Feder, of Cerebral Puck, suggests Schlemko’s possession numbers and ability to improve his teammate’s play classifies him as a puck-moving defenceman, behind Jeff Petry.
New Look Defense
The Canadiens have yet to ice the defensive line up many assumed they would over the summer. Early in the season, injuries to Noah Juulsen, Schlemko, and uncertainty around the role of Mark Streit resulted in the call-up of young Victor Mete. While Mete performed much better than anyone could have imagined, his youth and experience have caught up with him. After playing a quarter of the season in Laval, Jakub Jerabek, a puck-moving defender with offensive upside has finally been called up. Juulsen was taken off injured reserve but starts his pro career in the AHL with the Laval Rocket. Overall, the Habs team defence may be looking better.
So If Weber returns, Schlemko plays, Jerabek in and Price is healthy are you feeling better about #Habs team defence?
— Sean R Campbell (@seanrcampbell) November 22, 2017
A Big Week
As Pat Hickey observes, Schlemko’s return comes during a very important week for the struggling Canadiens. Below .500 and out of a playoff spot, the Ottawa game is the first of three consecutive divisional games. Captain Max Pacioretty has stated these games are particularly important. Ottawa has become an important rival.
“Ottawa is an opponent we’ve had a lot of physical games against and there’s a lot of emotion when we play them,” said Pacioretty. “We know we didn’t see their best the last time we played them and we’re expecting to see their best tomorrow night. There are huge points on the line, especially with the hole we dug ourselves earlier this season.”
According to Sports Club Stats. The Canadiens’ chances of making the playoffs stand at 4.3 percent. If that is the goal, the next four games over six days are very important. The Canadiens have 23 points, one more than the Senators, but Ottawa has played three fewer games.