The Habs are 13-1-1 and have actually picked up their game. We know they’re not going to continue to play .900 hockey but these guys are are looking a lot like…the October-November Habs of 2015-16 (how quickly we forget 18-3).

THE GOOD

    • Carey Price. 10-0 1.40. Throw in the Cy Young award while you’re at it. Since he got hurt a year ago he’s 20-2 and we know he was injured in one of the losses (in Edmonton). Save percentage is staying in the .950’s (closer to .960) while his 5 on 5 save percentage is up to .973. And how about that outlet pass he made standing beside his open net (with an opponent staring down at him) which led to the opening goal of the game?

  • Philippe Danault-Andrew Shaw-Max Pacioretty. Well now. Shaw’s first goal since opening night set the tone for a dominating performance (3 goals, 7 points) by the so-called #3 line, or is it the #2 line? His best game as a Hab while Danault continues to push his more experienced teammate/centre further down the depth chart. And here comes Pacioretty who finally hit the back of the net via a lucky bounce (naturally). His season shooting percentage (7.5, career 11%) is about to climb. Shaw and Danaut are primed for their return to Chicago. Is Al Montoya as well? (1-1-2, 2.78, .908 in five career games against the Black Hawks/ 1-1-1, 2.92, .909 at United Centre.) Very difficult assignment for Montoya in his hometown. His first start since the cannons went off in Columbus. Here’s hoping he doesn’t hear “Chelsea Dagger” the same way.
  • Alex Galchenyuk-Alexander Radulov-Paul Byron. So I ask again – a true numbers-beneath-the-surface kind of question – Who leads the NHL in breakaways and what is the percentage of breakaways to goals scored (I don’t need the stat on Tomas Plekanec)? Byron appeared to have a second goal before Toronto overruled ref Eric Furlatt. He has scored in three consecutive games. Galchenyuk’s two assists moved him into the top 10 in scoring. And Radulov it seems puts on a possession clinic down low at least twice a game. If there’s any concern about the Habs best right winger since Stephane Richer, we won’t know for awhile.

  • Power Play. Two for three. It has improved to 8th best in NHL at 21.7%. Both goals came as a direct result of face off wins by Galchenyuk.
  • Shea Weber. Has as many goals in 15 games as P.K. Subban scored all of last season.
  • Michel Therrien. His response following the meltdown in Columbus was perfect. Habs have played their best hockey since they had a chance to practice between Bell Centre games against Philadelphia and Los Angeles. The Habs held both the Kings and Red Wings to under 30 shots on goal. An easier than expected game against Detroit enabled him to limit the ice time of key players heading into Chicago (including Shea Weber at a season low 21:36, Brendan Gallagher 13:58 and Plekanec at 14:31).
  • Ron Maclean’s poetic opening on HNIC as he linked Leonard Cohen to Remembrance Day and Hockey Hall of Fame weekend in Toronto.
  • Habs Tributes to Cohen and Gordie Howe. It was especially poignant watching Elyse Beliveau watching the scoreboard during the Howe tribute which also prominently featured her late husband.

THE BAD

  • Byron’s second goal waved off by Hockey Ops in Toronto. It took seven minutes. I get it that they are doing their best to make the right call but if you can’t figure it out in 3 minutes or less than stay with the call on the ice. What exactly was so conclusive about what they saw that they needed to reverse the call? Did they freeze frame a rolling puck on Jimmy Howard’s pad to determine that Byron had whacked at a puck that was actually frozen? (It wasn’t). If they used a freeze frame then the whole process is flawed. The puck was loose it just happened to be on Howard’s pad. In any event, Byron will likely make up for it by scoring in Chicago.
  • David Desharnais. Not to pile on or anything but the veteran centre got a reprieve from the press box when Brian Flynn couldn’t play because of an “upper body” injury. So there was Desharnais on the 4th line as a left winger. He did nothing to alter the growing belief that he’ll likely play out the final year of his contract as a part-time player.

THE UGLY

  • Steve Ott. What a ridiculous penalty he took while the game was still up for grabs. Trying to “get even” because Andrew Shaw drilled one of the NHL’s hardest hitters into the boards to take a penalty late in the first period. But Justin Abdlekader was fine. He was on the ice when Shaw’s penalty began. Thirty seconds after Shaw served his penalty Luke Glendening took a swipe at Carey Price and was sent off for a slashing call that sent Detroit coach Jeff Blashill into full Apocalypse Now! mode. Instead of concentrating on killing off a penalty down by two, Ott decided t0 challenge Shaw to a fight (which he would have lost) by roughly grabbing a hold of the Habs winger to give Montreal a 5 on 3. It took just three seconds for Weber to score and put the game away. Ott is a terrific face off guy and by all accounts an even better teammate. But how, at age 34, he continues to get significant ice time is something his coach should be more concerned about instead of getting angry at NHL refs whose tolerance level for Ott is at near zero.

 

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6 Responses

  1. Shane Oliver

    Two great games in a row. We haven’t seen that in years.

    Gallagher, I know Byron is playing well, but there is more invested into Gallagher than Byron, and to be honest, is that top line going to be any worse with Gallagher up there?

    Plekanec’s line is officially a shut down line. So with Byron’s speed, that makes him a good shut down player. At 27 years old/waiver pick up, is he the player to be playing top line minutes or Gallagher?

    13-1-1 that seems funny to type.

    Shane from Brandon,MB

  2. dra58

    Was hoping tonight that our coach would sit Markov for back to back games like he is doing with Price. Guess I am going to be wrong again but Markov will be out of gas by the time the playoffs get here thanks to our genius coach. While we’re at it why not sit Plecky as well. St.John’s has time off between games and we could bring up Hudon or someone else for a game to play in his place. Guess I am thinking too far ahead for the coach and the team. Can’t dwell on the other stuff when we are winning but still not a fan of the coach.

    • Mitch Melnick

      You can’t simply call up a player to rest a veteran. There are salary cap implications. Right now (with Flynn injured) they have one healthy extra body and its Greg Pateryn who is a RH shot. But yes, Markov could have played less than 21:00.

    • Bob LeBlanc

      If I didn’t know better, I would judge by your comments that we are off to a terrible start. I guess Habs fans just can’t be satisfied!!

  3. Ian London

    Byron is on that top line because of his speed which I’m pretty sure was e=vident on his goal – even at blue line; one stride and he was gone. It’s not a negative statement about Gally. But he’s not himself and we need to figure it out. He’s too crucial to our success.

    Need to get a lottery going when MB signs Rads to a long term contract (I say by Jan 1).

    Can we leave DD exposed to the expansion draft? If he doesn’t fit in (and I saw nothing from my seat Saturday to suggest otherwise) then trade him (if you can) or let LV take him in draft.

    I saw several times Detroit rush being turned back at our line and the forward would pass the puck back to the defense. That’s a great statement to how we’re preventing entry into our zone.

    CP31 – he has to be the calmest/coolest/cerebral goalie I’ve ever seen and I’ve been watching for 55 years.