I thought we’d remember this game for the Montreal debut of Mike Brown and Stefan Matteau.
- Alex Galchenyuk. So both the coach and the captain are finally on board. I’ll dispense with the I-told-you-so’s and what-ifs. We’re finally here. And we’re not going back, are we? His 6th two-goal game of the season and 4th in his last 7 games (9 goals). Two points off his career high of 46 with 15 games left while his already career high goal total (23) keeps rising. He’s moving into select company among NHL goal scoring centres, just one goal behind Jonathan Toews and John Tavares and two behind Jason Spezza. After that it’s Malkin (27), Duchene (28), Bergeron (28) and Crosby (28). The emergence of Galchenyuk is really the only thing Habs fans will remember fondly about the final stage of this thoroughly miserable season.
- Andrei Markov. Ok, maybe him too. Complete turnaround since the All Star break. Thirteen points in his last 12 games. Two more assists move him into 9th among NHL defensemen with 35. Markov cross-ice to Galchenyuk has become the Habs most potent weapon. You could see it coming in overtime once Kris Russell broke his stick.
- Max Pacioretty. Let’s be clear about this: Pacioretty preferred to play with David Desharnais. Now even he knows. Galchenyuk post-game on playing with Pacioretty: “I don’t see a reason why we shouldn’t be able to click.“
- Sven Andrighetto. Beneficiary of two highly skilled line mates but he is also doing his part with a tenacious forecheck, forcing turnovers and making plays. Played a career high 19:07. If the Habs are serious contenders again next season I suspect Andrighetto might be packaged in an effort to acquire an established goal scoring winger.
- Greg Pateryn. Nice to see others are starting to notice (Named 3rd star). In addition to a solid defensive game I like what I see from him offensively too. Virtually every shot he takes from the blue line is hard, low and accurate. A lot stronger than, say, Nathan Beaulieu.
- Alexei Emelin. Who is that guy wearing #74 who chased down and caught Valeri Nichushkin from behind late in the second period? I didn’t think a Pateryn-Emelin pairing would work. I was wrong. It’s brought out the best in Emelin.
- P.K. Subban. Only one giveaway if you’re still counting. He played a strong, stay-at-home (mostly) game. Yes, he can do that too.
- Phillip Daneault. Great moment for him in front of family and friends to score his first goal as a Hab which also gave them a 3-2 lead. Dominated in face off circle (75%).
- 40 hits. It’s an overrated stat but still. The Canadiens with 40 hits in a regular season game? Mike Brown led the way with 9 in just 10:04 but with Michael McCarron (4) and Matteau (4) and Lucas Lessio (3) and Jacob de la Rose (3) the Habs are a much more menacing looking team on the ice.
- Tomas Plekanec. Not entirely his fault playing between a pair of bottom six forwards but coming off a dreadful road trip I expected to see more. The last time he played as little as 15:30 was last March 12 against Ottawa (14:25). Hasn’t scored a goal in 12 games. Has just four assists over that span.
- Paul Byron. Clearly not a second line right winger but hasn’t looked the same since signing a new contract.
- Injuries. Brendan Gallagher (2-3 weeks) and Lars Eller (who knows?) added to an ever expanding list. At this rate we might see John Scott after all.
- Ben Scrivens was actually the better goaltender on the ice. As we write this Dallas leads the Western Conference by one point over Chicago. They’ve managed to outscore every team in the NHL this season but it’s difficult to believe they’ll be able to do the same once the playoffs start. An already suspect blue line lost Jason Demers – perhaps for the season – with a shoulder injury. Their goaltending just isn’t good enough to bail them out. With Kari Lehtonen and Antti Niemi combining for a 5 on 5 save percentage of .914 (only Calgary at .912 is worse. The Habs aren’t far off at .917) it’s clear the Stars are going to have to play for 5-3 or 6-4 playoff games. It’ll be fun while it lasts. Stars GM Jim Nill has done a terrific job building his team. But he whiffed on Niemi.
- Jarred Tinordi. Suspended 20 games for using a performance enhancing substance. He should sue the manufacturer.