Take your finger off the panic button. It looks like the Habs are moving in the right direction. And maybe their GM is too.
- Carey Price. I keep hearing “…if Carey Price had played like this in January, Michel Therrien wouldn’t have lost his job.” You don’t think there was a connection? Therrien was suffocating his players with tension and anxiety. Already physically and mentally fatigued, Price was playing like he had a case of the yips. Connect the dots.
- Max Pacioretty. Or we can let Pacioretty do it for you: “Claude’s got a good way of explaining things calmly and being really positive and instilling confidence in the guys…” With his constant presence and eight shots on goal it felt like Pacioretty was going to win the game for Montreal. And he might have, had referee Marc Joannette not blown his whistle.
- Alex Galchenyuk. Here he comes again. Right on schedule. Now get him some help.
- Phillip Danault. Best game in forever. Was all over the ice. And while it’s true Galchenyuk “couldn’t win a face off all night (his words – to Marc Denis of RDS on the ice after scoring his game winner. It was Galchenyuk’s 4th overtime goal of the season, the first Hab to score that many in a season.) Danault also struggled big time winning just 3 of 17 draws (18%) thanks mostly to Brandon Dubinsky. We’ll revisit face-offs shortly.
- Alexander Radulov. Tough to follow up a 4 point night. But there was Radulov standing in front of Sergei Bobrovsky who is still looking for the puck off of Galchenyuk’s stick.
- Shea Weber & Andrei Markov. Major test for the new pairing against the big, speedy Columbus forwards and they did a
finereally good job. Weber logged over 27:00 after being held to 20 minutes the night before in Newark. It was Markov who drew the Seth Jones penalty that led to the winning power play goal by Galchenyuk, which again was set up by Weber.
- Jordie Benn. Impressive Montreal debut for the old school type defenseman. Blocked five shots, mostly while taking over Alexei Emelin’s position alongside Weber while killing penalties. “He likes to talk on the ice” said Claude Julien after the game. “We can hear him from the bench. I happen to believe communication on the ice is important.”
- Nathan Beaulieu. Seemed to benefit by the steady presence of Benn.
- Artturi Lehkonen. Looked revived after a couple of down games.
- Marc Bergevin. I liked both his secondary moves during the day. Brandon Davidson looked good on the Edmonton blue line a year ago. He’s a former captain of the Regina Pats. He has survived testicular cancer. Another character player. His on ice game slipped this season after a lengthy injury. Steve Ott? The Habs won just 34% of the face-offs vs Columbus. There is not a single guy on the roster they can count on to win a big draw. Enter Ott who is just under 55% for his career. As long as Julien limits his ice time he can be an improvement over what the Habs have had on their 4th line. David Desharnais can be proud of what he did in Montreal. Why some “fans” continuously dumped on a player who never gave anything but his best on the ice speaks more to their inadequacies than whatever Desharnais lacks. It was Bergevin who signed him to a long term deal. It was Therrien who played him more often than he should have. Once again Bergevin manages to (mostly) rid himself of a bad (albeit expiring) contract (Erik Cole, Travis Moen, Rene Bourque). Up next? Alexei Emelin (1 year 4.5 million), Tomas Plekanec (1 year 6 million) and perhaps Torrey Mitchell (1 year 1.5 million). Bergevin is poised to pounce on somebody who can provide some much needed offensive spark. He already said he is not interested in a “quick fix”. That would seem to rule out a rental. What’s he up to? Former Hab Alex Tanguay might have provided a clue on L’Antichambre on RDS following the game. With the exception of the final 15 games of last season, Tanguay spent the last three years of his lengthy career in Colorado. He said Matt Duchene is a flashy, spectacular player who can definitely help the Habs but if he had a choice he’d aim for Avalanche captain Gabriel Landeskog.
- Brendan Gallagher. Would have liked to see the rookie Lehkonen pass to Gallagher when they broke out on a 2 on 0 during a bad Columbus line change. So Gallagher didn’t get a chance to snap his lengthy drought as Lehkonen failed to elevate his shot on Bobrovsky. Gallagher’s season so far is just sad.
- Jeff Petry. While we outlined in our last blog how all but four forwards have been firing blanks since the calendar changed, Petry’s offense has also vanished. He’s been stuck on 8 goals since before Christmas (29 games) and he’s clearly pressing. He took 7 shots at the Columbus net. Not one of them hit it. Time for some target practice.
- 4th line. Michael McCarron-Torrey Mitchell-Brian Flynn. McCarron was understandably inserted into the line up against a bigger opponent and while he did use his body effectively his ice time was limited to under 7 minutes. Mitchell and Flynn are in no-man’s land. The trio did not register a single shot on goal. Another reason for the acquisition of Ott. McCarron is either headed back to St. John’s at least one more time, or to another NHL city.
- Thanks Torts. Veteran ref Dean Morton let Seth Jones get away with a couple of holds on Markov before finally calling a penalty when he grabbed Markov’s left arm. Normally, a referee would wait to see if the infraction causes a turnover but maybe the no-goal call at the other end of the ice moments earlier was on his mind.
John Tortorella=Not happy.
— TradeSZN Woj (@BryanWojtanik) March 1, 2017