Take your finger off the panic button. It looks like the Habs are moving in the right direction. And maybe their GM is too.

THE GOOD

  • 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 fine  really 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.

THE BAD

  • 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.

THE UGLY

  • 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.

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7 Responses

  1. Rick L

    Thanks Mitch … a buddy of mine said earlier today that David Desharnais gave everything he had heart & soul wise and I tend to agree with that … I think he’ll do alright in Edmonton given how young that lineup is … Steve Ott won’t hurt the club but I thought he might have come onboard a year ago, or so … kind of interested to see if he’s paired with Michael McCarron … I really think he might be able to help the kid out … Jordie Benn reminds me a little of a more-talented Douglas Murray … kind of concerned about Brendan Gallagher, though …

  2. IMS1965

    I might have added Scotty Hartnell’s slewfoot on Carey Price to the “ugly” category. How that was not penalized is beyond me.

    • Mitch Melnick

      Yeah but I cannot tell a lie. I never saw it. Got in late from work and missed it. One of the best things Mike Komisarek ever did as a Hab was to pound Hartnell into submission.

  3. Michael Nixon

    I’ve been a Desharnais detractor so I will take the hit on that. Again, the problem is not DD…when you have a small, skilled player like that you have to make sure he is protected by putting him with big, physical wingers (at least one) who will give him space. He played well with Patches for periods but then there was nobody on the other side that helped out. Again, that is on the coach/GM combo…

    As for MB, I am still waiting for him to actually do something meaningful. He seems great at picking up 4th liners but add a significant piece, man, for God’s sake…you’ve had 5 years!

    • Mitch Melnick

      Desharnais’s best season was with Erik Cole on his right and Pacoretty on his left.

  4. SUMO

    Thanks Mitch, excellent summation of the trades, players and the game. Absolutely agree about Desharnais, what’s he supposed to do, say no to MB’s generous contract extension or to Therrien over using him? Undersized and undrafted, busts his butt to get from ECHL to the NHL. A classic underdog story.

  5. Michael Nixon

    Mitch…yes, you are right…one a gunner, the other more of a guy to go into the corner and dig the puck out, do the dirty work and he had size. Again, DD is not responsible for putting the roster together.

    You know, I find some of your colleagues on TSN690 hilarious. Listening this morning to McKenna etc., and they are arguing about how MB did yesterday (Martin Lemay giving him a 10/10). It is not only the wrong argument, it is a laughable one. The issue with MB is not how he did at the trade deadline, it is his body of work since he has been GM. He has failed to fix the top 6 of the Habs in his five years as GM…not just at the trade deadline (which is generally the worst time to do it) but in the off-season as well. He has had five years to fix this and has done virtually nothing. We still have a major issue at centre not to mention someone else to score on the second line. That is the issue that should be discussed, not how he did yesterday.