Glass half full – The Habs opened up the season with two games on the road without their best player and took three out four points.

Glass half empty – Playing against two fellow non-playoff teams from 2015-16 the Habs were outshot 69-48. And for a team whose identity is “speed”, they mostly looked like the slower team on the ice in both games.

The defending Stanley Cup champs are next.

THE GOOD

  • Jeff Petry. Welcome back. Hard, accurate shot from the point with traffic in front is a strong remedy for a sick power play. On the other hand, Petry badly over committed to puck carrier Ryan Dzingel which left Tom Pyatt(!) alone to bury the game tying goal with just two and a half minutes to play.
  • Al Montoya. Put his team in position to climb out of an 0-2 hole. Several great saves from in close.
  • Alexander Radulov. A beast. Moved up in the second half of the game to play on the top line. Nifty backhand goal in the shootout.
  • Arturi Lehkonen. First NHL goal early in the third period tied the game. Lehkonen had very little room from in tight but managed to roll it over Craig Anderson. His reward? No ice time for the next seven minutes.
  • Nathan Beaulieu. A mostly strong 22 minutes. Nice set up to Petry for the go ahead goal in the third. But how is Beaulieu going to hit the back of the net with what increasingly appears to be a sub-par NHL shot?
  • Shea Weber. One of the few Habs who could respond to Ottawa’s early physicality. While dishing it out there’s no question that he also gives himself extra time with the puck as opposing forwards seem a lot more reluctant to finish their checks. Robbed of his first goal as a Hab when Anderson made a strong shoulder save on a blast from above the left face off circle during a very dangerous looking second Montreal power play.
  • Special Teams. As predicted following game one, the Habs scored their first power play goal of the season. More importantly it looked a lot better after a dreadful first attempt early in the game which led directly to Dzingel’s opening goal just nine seconds following the expiration of a Marc Methor penalty. And the PK Unit was severely tested by 1:37 of an Ottawa 4 on 3 in the second period and nearly a full two minute (1:49) 5 on 3 early in the third. Full credit to the Montreal penalty killers led by Andrei Markov, but it looks like Guy Boucher has a similar problem to Michel Therrien – how to get a power play featuring some very talented players and anchored by the best offensive defenseman in the game – to become a true weapon.

THE BAD

  • David Desharnais-Andrew Shaw-Daniel Carr. Couldn’t follow up a strong opening night in Buffalo. Didn’t generate a single shot on goal.
  • Alex Galchenyuk. Mostly chasing the puck all night after winning just 2 of 15 face offs (13%). Needs to put in extra time at practice, if he’s not already doing so. Number one centres need to give their team possession of the puck. Through the first two games Galchenyuk is under 27%.
  • Max Pacioretty. Just three shots on goal through two games. Terrible holding penalty on Karlsson early in the third which put the Habs down by two men.
  • Paul Byron. Anybody else wondering why he ended up taking several shifts with Galchenyuk and Brendan Gallagher in the second half of the game? It couldn’t be because of all the family and friends he had at the game.
  • Michel Therrien. Up to his old tricks – don’t trust the kids. Arturi Lehkonen looks good. If Therrien trusts him to kill penalties why is he reluctant to put him on the ice while nursing a one goal lead on the road? Over the final half of the third period Lehkonen got two shifts, including his final one of 23 seconds. And the speedy winger didn’t make it onto the ice in overtime. Once again, it’s more about “safe” hockey than winning hockey. And while we’re at it – Shea Weber brings a lot to this team. But he is not an ideal 3 on 3 guy. In fact, right now it appears that only Petry and Beaulieu have the skating ability on the back end to play three on three. What was that about “speed”?

THE UGLY

  • Which was uglier-this?

Or this –

About The Author

8 Responses

  1. Kostas

    Once again… Great read.
    Thanks.

    PS
    Just a thought Paciorretty plus, plus,
    To NYI for Tavares.
    Got rid of the wrong guy while trying to fix leadership.
    Max, Plecanec, Coach, and even Markov needed to go.

    • Liam Maguire

      Why in God’s name would the Isles trade Tavares? And both the late goal to tie it and the coaching and play 3 on 3 was deplorable. A real head scratcher.

    • Fab

      Trust in MB who for sure is looking for a pick moving d to save his ass on THE trade.

  2. James Manolakos

    Spot on commentary. I try to focus on player input during the early going of the season as opposed to results (output),especially this year with a good number of new parts added. That being said, Pacioretty and Plekanec are underwhelming at best. Good players have an extra gear that they can utilise when necessary, these two don’t seem to have one. More urgency please.

    Okay, DD screwed up but the vitriol he brings out in sections of the fanbase is completely uncalled for. He’s been a solid servant for the CH and that goes unemphasised.

    Thank you.
    JM

  3. Mark

    Desharnais looked bad but I believe (without seeing stats) he has one of the best career averages in shootouts of the habs so quite hating on decision to out home there. Lehkonen ice time and end of game – just don’t get it. Radulov already looks like best Habs forward. Pacioretty extremely disappointing.

  4. Kyle

    Mitch,
    If you are going to get me hooked on your blog like you did last year, please don’t disappear like you did the last time? I’m begging you. It was bad enough watching the car crash that was the Habs last season but it was even more painful with you skipping town. Please stick around. You’re needed!

    • Mitch Melnick

      Ha ha. There was no joy left. Plan is to do as many as I’m here for. We’ve got sponsors lined up so I have to – even if it becomes a pain again. Thanks.

  5. Disgruntled 70's Hab

    A good read and a good synopsis of the game. Thought Artturi Lehkonen had a strong game. He provided the screen on one of Jeff Petry’s goals, then cashed in on a rebound for his first NHL goal. Going to the net both times = Hockey 101. Not sure why he was stapled to the bench after that, though.

    Another strong game by Al Montoya. Thought he might have wanted that first Ottawa goal back (rebound), but I wasn’t on the ice at the time, so … that said, it’s nice to have a bonafide NHL backup goaltender this year. That’s not a slight on Mike Condon, it’s just that Montoya seems to be more-seasoned at the NHL level.

    I know the stats suggest otherwise, but I’d have passed on David Desharnais in the shootout and maybe have gone with a player who actually had a good game. Lehkonen comes to mind right away. Again, that’s slight on DD, but Lehkonen had a stronger game.

    As an outsider looking in, one area for improvement will have to be faceoffs. Seems kind of odd saying that under Kirk Muller’s watch. Still, it’s something they may want to sort out before Alex Galchenyuk is moved back to the wing. That’s not to say it’s a done deal by any means, it just wouldn’t surprise me to see it happen.

    Hope Muller has started his French lessons again.

    Cheers.