It’ll likely be the most enjoyable day off of the season for the Habs-except for the medical staff. Very strong finish to a road trip that normally has a Death Valley feel to it. Managing a point in St. Louis without their best player and without their leading scorer is no small feat. Now comes the hard(er) part. Already weak down the middle, the Habs will try to win games without two regular centremen, including a top 15 scorer. Is that puff of smoke you see a prayer or an SOS?
- Tomas Plekanec. Welcome to the 2016-17 season. Try to stay for awhile. Considering the circumstance, if he had to pick one game to look like the old Plekanec, this sure was it. His team badly needed him and he delivered.
When Plekanec scored…he said “this one’s for Melnick!” @HunterZThompson 😂
— #Habs Luckycharm (@Habs_luckycharm) December 7, 2016
- Paul Byron. I am so impressed. In addition to the obvious (skating) Byron has proven to be a real smart player who is always around the net (and a big thank you to Jake Allen who was a rebound machine for the first 40 minutes) but on this road trip he showed off an element to his game that I didn’t think he possessed-a great deal of grit and at times a real physical edge, often in a sneaky way. I like him even more.
- Alexander Radulov. Who in the NHL plays keep away better than Radulov? Every game. Multiple times a game. Radulov finds teammates who are open. Played over 20:00 for just the third time this season (twice in OT games). This is likely about to become the rule rather than the exception.
- Al Montoya. First start since November 18th was against a team with the best home record in the Western Conference. Numerous big saves from in close. Paul Stastny’s goal from a severe angle should not have gone in but there wasn’t much he could do about the game tying goal. And the OT winner, also scored by Jaden Schwartz, was simply an unstoppable backhand.
- Max Pacioretty & David Desharnais. So much for that reunion. Pacioretty hit another goalpost and was set up perfectly by Plekanec with just over a minute to play only to be robbed on the re-direct by Allen who made his best save of the night.
- Andrei Markov. Best looking of the Habs group of six.
- Phillip Danault. Good transition back to centre.
- Greg Pateryn. Very solid. But why less than 11:00?
- Torrey Mitchell. Forced into over 16:00, including power play time, and responded well.
- Arturi Lehkonen. If he keeps playing like this the goals will come.
- PK Unit. Habs played with fire taking three consecutive penalties in the first period against a good power play but killed them off, thanks largely to Montoya and their top pairing defensemen. A struggling PK unit began not with Plekanec up front but Mitchell and Byron before Plekanec was sent out with Pacioretty, something we (strangely) haven’t seen a lot of this season.
- Brendan Gallagher. One goal in 20 games.
- Shea Weber. Logging too much ice time (28:52)? For the second consecutive game Weber looked fatigued, losing puck battles behind his net while being beaten to the outside twice, including by Alex Steen at the end of regulation time who forced Montoya into making a save after easily walking around the Habs defenseman.
- Andrew Shaw. Energetic, effective road trip ended in Los Angeles.
- Daniel Carr. Had a good first shift. Maybe the parade of early penalties affected his rhythm. They want him to create more scoring chances but it’s just not happening.
- Face offs. Habs won just 43% of the draws and you can’t blame any of it on Alex Galchenyuk. Only four teams in the NHL have been less effective winning face offs this season.
- OT. WTF is Alexei Emelin doing on the ice while Mark Barberio is nailed to the bench? Please explain.
- Injury to David Desharnais. Like a lot of fans I do not believe in the ability of Desharnais to get it done at playoff time (in 38 career games he has just 3 goals and 10 assists). However, I always root for the guy to succeed. There is way too much hate out there for the player.
— HockeyCool (@hockeypaisan) December 7, 2016
- Power Play. Not an over statement to suggest the 0-5 cost them the game, especially when Lehkonen drew a penalty 12 seconds into the third period with the Habs still up 2-0. Without Galchenyuk it’ll be up to Pacioretty to pull the trigger. And the familiar duo of Plekanec and Gallagher are going to have to produce as well. This is hardly Mission: Impossible.