It was supposed to be a quiet game, barely above an exhibition. The first place Montreal Canadiens were taking on the 11th place Ottawa Senators. With no real animosity and barely any history between the clubs, the game was about going through the motions. Both teams were without their number one goalie in the blue paint, one by choice the other by force of circumstances. Play for the two points then pack it home.
Turns out this game might be one of the most significant games of the season for the Montreal Canadiens.
20 seconds into the game, Alexei Emelin miscalculated his hit on Ottawa’s Mark Stone and crashed into the boards. His right shoulder absorbing much of the impact.
With Sergei Gonchar already on the shelf, Emelin is the second defenseman of the Habs’ top six to suffer an injury in a matter of a week. The news came on Thursday afternoon that Alexei Emelin was set to miss the next six weeks.
Alexei Emelin will not require surgery. He says he had a left shoulder inj in the past. First time on his right. Could be out 6 weeks #Habs
— Eric Engels (@EricEngels) February 19, 2015
The Montreal Canadiens decided to recall Jarred Tinordi instead of Bryan Allen, the 34-year-old veteran who was acquired from Anaheim in exchange of Rene Bourque.
It will be Tinordi’s fourth stint with the Montreal Canadiens. This is sink or swim for the 22-year-old defenseman.
Tinordi had his fair share of opportunities with the big club. Last year, Tinordi played 22 regular season games in the NHL. He was off to a rough start and never really recovered. Although he finished the season in Montreal, he did not play a single post-season game last year.
It was hoped at the beginning of the season that both Jarred Tinordi and Nathan Beaulieu would break the Habs’ top 7 and stay in the NHL for the season. However both players were off to slow starts and were sent back to the AHL.
Tinordi was particularly bad this year. In nine games, Tinordi recorded only two assists and finished with a +/- differential of -5.
At 5v5 even strength, Tinordi had a FenwickFor% of 50.3, 1.186 GoalsFor/60, 4.152 GoalsAgainst/60 for a GoalsFor% of 22.2 and a 91.2 PDO.
At 5v5 Close he has a FF% of 50.5, 0.948 GF/60, 3.791 GA/60 for a GF% of 20.0 and a 90.9 PDO.
The flipside to those horrendous numbers is that they are from a nine games sample on a team that wasn’t playing well defensively to start the season. Those numbers don’t tell the whole story but they do underline Tinordi’s defensive liabilities.
Like most big men in the NHL, Tinordi is somewhat of a late bloomer. Much like another big Habs’ first round pick Michael McCarron, Tinordi struggled when he made the jump from the USHL to the CHL. In 63 games with the London Knights, Tinordi finished with a +/- differential of -8 and 140 PIM.
The following season, Tinordi played 48 games with the Knights and finished with a +/- of 39 and 63 PIM.
Tinordi’s physicality is by far his best attribute. In a preseason game earlier this year, Tinordi cleanly checked Nate Schmidt into the fifth dimension. Tinordi was then ejected from the game, his only crime was being too big.
Also a fighter, Tinordi ruled his ice in the AHL before learning a tough lesson back in January in a fight against Andrey Pedan
He ought to learn from those situations. Hopefully, Tinordi is a better player now than he was to start the season. The next six weeks will be very important to Tinordi’s future with the Montreal Canadiens. Tinordi has a lot going for him but lacked coordination and experience and needed to make the mistakes to get better.
It is hard for a 6’6 guy to play a shutdown, stay-at-home style in the NHL. Even though Tinordi’s skating skills are strong for a guy his size, he can’t skate back to make up for positional mistakes like Emelin would do. He must read the play well and keep his coverage tight.
At 22 years old and, he is in the middle of his third pro season. Tinordi isn’t a ”rookie” anymore. Set to be RFA this offseason, he can’t afford to make rookie mistakes. With Nathan Beaulieu drafted a year later and now a mainstay with the Habs, Jarred Tinordi will have to show he is on the right track to becoming an NHL defenseman.
Like Beaulieu before him, he has to make up for his false starts and now is the time to do it. His team needs him to be strong in his zone and it’s up to him to show the Montreal Canadiens’ brass that he belongs in the NHL. He has the tools to succeed, it’s a matter of being smarter on the ice and using them properly. If he doesn’t, Bryan Allen is just a phone call away.
This is Tinordi’s big opportunity to prove his team can rely on him. If this stint is similar to the ones that preceded, it could be his last.
The Hockey Writers is:
1) A top-tier hockey media company delivering a top-notch, in-depth look at the NHL
2) A collective of some of the best hockey writers anywhere
3) A multimedia provider with daily podcasts and YouTube shows
4) Well-respected and widely-cited NHL prospect and draft resource