What were you doing one year ago?
Eastern Conference Standings through April 4, 2016
|Tampa Bay Lightning||79||45||29||5||95||219||191||0.551||42|
|Detroit Red Wings||79||40||28||11||91||204||216||0.494||38|
|Toronto Maple Leafs||79||28||40||11||67||192||233||0.316||22|
|New York Rangers||79||44||26||9||97||229||209||0.538||41|
|New York Islanders||78||43||26||9||95||219||203||0.519||38|
|New Jersey Devils||79||37||34||8||82||176||200||0.456||35|
|Columbus Blue Jackets||79||31||40||8||70||205||246||0.354||25|
- Artturi Lehkonen. Saku Koivu knows his players, doesn’t he? Before Habs training camp Koivu made it clear that Lehkonen was ready for the NHL. It’s been a steady climb for the 21 year old rookie from Piikkio, Finland (a sub-region of Saku’s home base of Turku). You could see – and feel – his confidence growing over the last month or so. He had the difficult part figured out early on. But his offense, led by that impressive release, has caught up to the rest of his game. Game winner in the Atlantic Division clincher. His 16 goals is the most in a season by a Habs rookie since Guillaume Latendresse in 2006-07.
- Andrew Shaw. Hasn’t done much scoring since being moved to the middle but banged home a shot from the slot to open the scoring.
- Alex Galchenyuk. Long overdue night of substance for the entire trio. Galchenyuk was hungry for the puck in this one. Made things happen around the net. Shortly before Shaw scored, Galchenyuk took the puck from the side of the Florida net, showed strength and patience in taking it out front to the other side where he waited out Reto Berra only to watch the puck hit the post. The next time he had the puck down low he smartly kept it along the ice and banked it off Berra directly to Shaw who had no trouble beating the Florida goaltender. The bad news on Galchenyuk is that he has scored just one goal in the last month. And the Habs are going to need goals from him. The good news is he’s around the net and he’s making plays. And he still has time.
- Charlie Lindgren. He is a good looking young goaltender. We saw it late last season. He’s had a good year for a mediocre team in St. John’s. Doesn’t panic for a guy with such little pro experience. Fights through traffic. The only goal that beat him – Jonathan Marchessault’s 30th of the season – came after he was knocked off balance and prevented from getting to the shooter – and he still almost managed to get a pad on the shot in a desperation attempt. Was especially strong in the second period when the Habs hit the snooze button.
- Phillip Danault-Alexander Radulov-Max Pacioretty. Still any concern that Radulov couldn’t be effective for a full NHL schedule.? He’s back alright with 5 points in his last 4 games. Pacioretty’s next point will mark a career high at 68. I loved how Danault stood up for himself following a face off against Michael Sgarbossa. As both forwards went low to the ice Sgarbossa cross checked Danault in the back of the head. Danault wasted no time in responding. Eventually the gloves came off.
- Paul Byron. Another game, another breakaway. His shot missed the net entirely but rebounded off the boards right onto the stick of Lehkonen who blasted it home to give Montreal a late two goal lead.
- Tomas Plekanec. Late season surge in the face off circle (13/18 or 72%) has taken him above 50% where he hasn’t been in a full season for three years.
- PK Unit. Led by Plekanec, it killed off a Panthers 5 on 3 in the second period while the game was tied.
- Andrei Markov. Didn’t seem to miss his injured D partner Shea Weber.
- Jeff Petry. He will score again before the end of the season, won’t he? You can tell the blanks he keeps firing is more than just an inside joke among teammates as each time Petry fails to convert a scoring chance it’s followed by a smile and a glance at the bench. In case you’ve forgotten, Petry has been stuck on 8 goals since before Christmas.
- Nikita Nesterov. He’s alive! Welcome back. Formed a duo most of the night with Brandon Davidson. Here’s one for the numerologists – when was the last time an NHL defense pair wore numbers 88 & 89?
- Jacob de la Rose. He’s alive too. A late season hot streak has raised his AHL goal total to 12. On the Ice Caps that’s good enough for the 4th highest total on the team behind Chris Terry (27), Charles Hudon (24) and Nikita Scherbak (13). We might not have seen the last of de la Rose after all.
- Power Play. Imagine how totally one sided these games down the stretch would be if the Habs could only find that next gear with the man advantage? True, they have ended up putting teams away eventually anyway, but it sure would help if they hit the playoffs with a power play that was productive instead of one that continues to sputter.
- Florida’s goal. Alexei Emelin, who played pretty well on the right side, was way too passive in his own zone (and it’s not like he had Shawn Thornton to think about) while his partner Nathan Beaulieu blocked Lindgren’s path to Marchessault.
- The NHL says no to the 2018 Olympics.
— Mitch Melnick (@HunterZThompson) April 3, 2017