A stumbling, lifeless Canadiens team, coming off their most embarrassing loss of 2017 – to the worst team in the NHL – headed to the desert to face the second worst team in the NHL, amid a report of a meeting between GM Marc Bergevin and the leadership core (which was laughed off by the captain), while a francophone Stanley Cup and Olympic gold medal winning coach was thanking the city of Boston for a 10 year run.
We know there isn’t going to be another “It’s on me” moment from Bergevin. The fact that the Habs slide has come at the exact same time as a year ago should at least raise some concern. But if there was any doubt that most of the players want to keep playing for Michel Therrien then it was wiped out by their performance on the ice, especially in the third period.
The Habs obviously have issues. It was the kind of night that screamed out for at least a three goal lead but once again they couldn’t finish off numerous opportunities to put the game away. And it wasn’t like Mike Smith was locked in tight in the Arizona goal. But they found a way. Just in time. (Raise your hand if you think there wouldn’t be consequences as the result of back to back losses in Denver and Glendale.)
Now they need to rid themselves of the imposter who is wearing number 31.
- Max Pacioretty. Whoa. Almost a one man wrecking crew. A classic put-the-team-on-your-back display of leadership. It was the captain who made sure that once the Habs fell behind after surrendering three quick goals late in the second period, they weren’t going to totally melt away. His two goals gives him 27 for the season. He now sits alone in third in the NHL trailing only Sidney Crosby (30) & Jeff Carter (29). And his four point night has moved him into the top 15 in points. And his 10 shots on goal – 10! – moves him into the top 10 in that category as well. The winning goal? It started with Pacioretty take away in the neutral zone. It wasn’t a four goal game but considering the circumstance it just might have been the best single game performance of Pacioretty’s career.
- Alexander Radulov. Back to full-on beast mode. And this reaction never gets old, does it? In fact, it is so much a part of who the Habs are.
Who is better in the NHL at saying “Hockey is fun!”? https://t.co/UQLU6EgNIY
— Mitch Melnick (@HunterZThompson) February 10, 2017
— P@RICK (@PNK81) February 10, 2017
- Andrei Markov. The best defenseman on the ice in this game was the 38 year old who recently discovered that his ex-wife had died of cancer. Another example of true leadership. His set up to Pacioretty on the the early 3rd period power play to tie the game back up was a thing of beauty – ripped from the Serge Savard playbook of 40 years ago. Moved up to the second D pair and logged even more ice time than Shea Weber (22:36 to 21:34). How long before Weber-Markov is a thing?
- Jeff Petry. Strong effort paired with Markov. Got Habs rolling early with a smart dump in. By the time Pacioretty finished off the play to give the Habs the lead, Petry was actually on the Montreal bench.
- Phillip Danault. It was Danault’s perfect feed to Pacioretty that opened the scoring. And he did a lot of work on the Radulov goal that gave the Habs a 4-3 lead. Danault was clearly moving a lot better than what we’ve seen since last weekend. The top trio not only accounted for 80% of the goals but they generated 16 of Montreal’s 40 shots or 40%.
- Michael McCarron & Daniel Carr. Gave Habs a new look and much improved 4th line, doing exactly what they needed to do: Strong forecheck, physical on the puck, provide energy and offensive zone time – something that was clearly not happening with Brian Flynn and Jacob de la Rose (sent back to AHL with no points in 9 games. He helped kill penalties. He did a good job with it. But that’s a one trick pony the Habs cannot afford to keep sending out there 5 on 5). Kind of symbolic that both guys picked up assists on the Markov goal that gave the Habs an early 2-0 lead. Torrey Mitchell? Along for the ride. Closing on on 30 games without a goal.
- Power Play. Only two opportunities but they broke an 0-11 skid when Markov brilliantly set up Pacioretty in the slot. The Habs are at 22.3% or 5th in the NHL. They need to stay there.
- Alex Galchenyuk. Of course he scored the game winner in overtime with a strong wrist shot through a screen. What else were you expecting after a week of bullshit? It took four shifts in overtime to finally get him on the ice. Oh, and look who set him up – Pacioretty. They might actually produce a lot of goals if they played together. Therrien won’t move Danault so in the meantime there is nobody clamoring louder for the return of Brendan Gallagher than Galchenyuk.
— StatsCentre (@StatsCentre) February 10, 2017
— Andrew Berkshire (@AndrewBerkshire) February 10, 2017
- Andrew Shaw. Another bad penalty nowhere near his own net and even though the Habs killed it off, the momentum (coupled with their inability to add another goal or two) of the game shifted. Too bad, because other than that he had a strong night.
- Paul Byron. His neutral zone take down of Lawson Crouse was an even worse penalty than Shaw’s. And what was he doing in overtime when he upended an Arizona player along the boards without the puck – he was very lucky not to get penalized. Byron is another player who should benefit greatly by the return of Gallagher. He had two great scoring chances but hit the post on both occasions. When he was scoring goals on a more regular basis early in the season he was doing so by jumping on loose pucks around the net. If he could finish off plays from the slot/face off circle he’d be a top 6 winger. But he’s not.
- Tomas Plekanec. Not much power left in that stick of his. Dreadful in the face off circle (5 for 16 or 31%). Even Galchenyuk was better.
- Sven Andrighetto. Too many chances to score with not enough finish. Fanned on a one-timer.
- Artturi Lehkonen. He’s been better. He’ll be better.
- Carey Price. Who is this guy? He hasn’t looked this bad since the lockout shortened season of 2012-13. After seemingly getting his game back together over four consecutive strong starts to finish off the month of January, the real Carey Price has again gone MIA. His save percentage in the four games he’s played since Feb 2 – .913 .900 .846 .840. His season save percentage has slipped below .920 to .918. Worse than the numbers is the way he looks. TSN’s Darren Dreger was telling Conor McKenna this week that Price needs to rediscover his killer insinct. That’s a good way to put it. Because right now, it’s Price who is getting killed. He looks almost shell shocked. With the possible exception of Shea Weber, nobody could use the upcoming bye week more than Carey Price. In addition to the workload and ridiculous number of high quality shots that he has to face, there must be something else going on. Why is Carey Price so obviously distracted? An attempt at humour but the best humour has a ring of truth to it. Anybody else find themselves thinking this way while watching his late game meltdown? Just asking.
— Greg Wyshynski (@wyshynski) February 10, 2017