It’s Deja Vu all over agin.

But will 2017 be thud free?

THE GOOD

  • Carey Price. For the first time this season the Habs needed  Price to win them a game. With Tampa Bay rested after scoring seven goals in Toronto and waiting for the Habs to arrive back from Brooklyn it was clear that number 31 was going to be busy. He wasn’t bombarded but he stopped everything but an unstoppable tip in. Trailing 1-0 with Tampa Bay on a power play to start the third period Price could not afford to give up a second goal. 20 seconds in, following his own bad giveaway behind the net, Price somehow managed to get back in time to stop Ondrej Palat who was left alone for what appeared to be an easy finish. Game saver.
  • Shea Weber. Virtually mistake free. On the ice for the first 5 on 5 goal against since game two in Ottawa. Weber had his man properly tied up. It was fun to watch the cat and mouse game between Michel Therrien (J.J. Daigneault) and Jon Cooper in the first Montreal-TB match up featuring Steven Stamkos and Weber. Took a little time to develop but eventually Weber cast his significant shadow on the Lightning sniper.
  • Max Pacioretty. Both his goals this season are game winners. Continues to get his nose dirty in scrums. Grabbed 6’6″ Brian Boyle to make sure the Tampa Bay forward didn’t get involved in the one sided scrap. Has rediscovered the art of the face wash. This is not insignificant. Nobody likes the possibility of a finger in the eye. Didn’t like his passive approach to a loose puck along the boards just prior to Alex Killorn’s opening goal.
  • Andrew Shaw. Perfect screen on the Pacioretty goal which he helped set up with a strong shot on Ben Bishop. Getting a lot more chances with Pacioretty on his left. Best game as a Hab.
  • Alex Galchenyuk. That’s the guy we saw down the stretch a season ago. And about those face offs (2 for 8 under 30% for the season)? In his first season as an NHL centre Sidney Crosby won less than 46% of his draws. In year two he was still under 50%. He went over that mark in year three. But didn’t become one of the best (56%) until year five.
  • Andrei Markov. Perfect, vintage set up to Galchenyuk made up for what had been a weird night for Markov who missed two open teammates on a previous power play, missed a great set up from Brian Flynn on a two on one after he jumped out of the penalty box and slapped a puck over the glass in Tampa Bay territory from his own end while killing a penalty to put Montreal down briefly by two men.
  • Special Teams. Galchenyuk’s power play goal made it three straight games (two game winners and a game tying goal) for the work-in-progress power play which has now moved above 20%. Habs PK unit is over 90%.
  • Greg Pateryn. That set up to Pacioretty for the game winner was a bit of a ‘wow’ moment. Keep having to remind myself that he hasn’t played a full NHL season (64 career games).

  • Nathan Beaulieu. Maybe he’s at his best at or around 15:00 (13:55). This season anyway.
  • Torrey Mitchell. Tony Marinaro used the word tenacity to describe Mitchell’s effort on his clinching empty netter. Good word. Tied for the team lead in goals.
  • Brendan Gallagher. Even when he’s not hitting the scoresheet he’s putting his team in position to win. For the second straight game it was Gallagher who drew a penalty (Nikita Nesterov roughing in front of the net – where else?) that led to a game changing power play goal.
  • This –

  • Michel Therrien. True to form-and much to the dismay of many-he did indeed start the game with the trio he put together in the second period in Brooklyn – Pacioretty and Shaw centred by David Desharnais. But more significantly, he finally put Galchenyuk and Alexander Radulov together. He had to have been thinking about it for awhile. Then, early in the second via a line change, Galcheyuk and Radulov broke free on a give and go but Galchenyuk was stymied by Bishop. This after yet another great set up by Radulov to his regular centreman who couldn’t finish. Once the Galchenyuk-Gallagher-Radulov combo were on the ice for the power play goal six minutes into the third period, it was a matter of time before Therrien put them together five on five. And there they were on their next shift. If they stay together there’s no way Therrien can use Desharnais (15:56) for nearly two minutes more than Galchenyuk (14:03). Is there?

THE BAD

  • Tomas Plekanec. Suddenly a #3 centre.  If it’s worth anything he looked better. But again couldn’t finish anything off. If you go back to the final two months of the 2015-16 season, Plekanec has scored two goals in his last 27 games.
  • Official NHL stat person who credited Paul Byron with 7 hits.
  • Ben Bishop. Another game against Montreal, another obvious case of embellishment in his crease. Even with Brandon Prust two years removed. It’ll be fun to watch the Bishop-Shaw dynamic develop.

THE UGLY

  • Cedric Paquette should not drop his gloves. Ever. Especially against Nathan Beaulieu. Remember last February when Beaulieu punched Paquette’s visor off?  This time Beaulieu nearly punched his head off.

About The Author

7 Responses

  1. dra58

    I enjoyed the game last night and nice catch on Lee as most wouldn’t have noticed. Here’s a couple of other things to look for: About the 10:30 mark of the 1st period there was a SLOW line change (seems to be the norm this year) and Pateryn was coming on the ice and most instincts are to touch the puck but he smartly let it go through his legs even though it went into our zone so as not to have too many men on the ice penalty. Smart hockey for a kid who hasn’t played much. Also a trivia thought : what does the #7 mean to the Russians on this team 27=A/G 47=A/R 74=A/E 79=A/M. IDEAS? Hopefully it’s a lucky 7. I won’t pick on the coach(whom I dislike) but will leave it to Gallo to do today.

  2. Rick L

    Thanks, Mitch … great rundown of the game … very impressed with the effort les gars showed last night despite playing the night before … I was expecting them to be gassed come the 3rd, but they hung in there … I’ve thought for some time that Nathan Beaulieu hasn’t been the same since Nick Foligno dropped him … I can’t remember if he’s had any other fights since that, but it was good seeing him drop the gloves again … wonder if that might make a difference … read lots of positive reaction on Twitter about Greg Pateryn … no disrespect to Carey Price, or Max Pacioretty, but is this Shea Weber’s team now … might be heading to Montreal for the Leafs/Habs in November … has the price of beer gone up again … thanks again, Mitch …

  3. IMS1965

    Very solid effort by the team against a rested rival which had to be looking to make a statement. I am no Therrien fan, but he clearly had the team ready to play last night. As well, it was really nice to see them beat Ben Bishop again, given how “in their heads” he was until last season. Carey Price would not have let in at least one of the goals that Bishop allowed. I don’t think that that Steven Stamkos is going to like seeing Shea Weber out there……………….

    • Ian London

      Nobody is happier to see Shea Weber in Montreal (besides Habs fans) than central division players. There were several texts and tweets from central players that made that very clear. The man is a total stud. Complete class act. And nobody said it better when he said he was glad to be back in Canada where hockey matters. But I guess he wasn’t expecting the reaction of the fans to his play and leadership. Seems almost embarrassed by it.

      So the east now hates the central for giving us Weber to protect CP31 and Montoya and Andrew Shaw for making life miserable for opposing goalies when Gally is not on the ice. Throw the speed of Byron and the shot of Leks into the mix. Did MB finally get it together this summer? Oh yeah, lets not forget the happiest new Hab – Radulov.

      I moved to Vancouver 34 years ago but never stopped being a diehard Habs fan. Sure I see them when they play the Canucks on the west coast but I have a family function coming up in November and am taking my wife and daughters to Detroit game at Bell Centre. So stoked!!! Go Habs Go!!!

  4. Ray W.

    Always good reading Mr. Melnick. Once the Canadiens fill the second line center position with someone legit. Then we can truthfully say we are a contender. Plecanec would be a better fit on the third line.

    • Mitch Melnick

      Thanks Ray. That’s where Plekanec is right now. Marc Bergevin has until-ideally-mid-february to add a #2 centre.

  5. Truth Terrorist

    Go ahead and enjoy this great start. This is not a team on the ice or in the coaching and management ranks to win the Cup or even go to the final. The owners want to make the playoffs every year for the sake of increased profits and beer sales. To win the Cup you need to tank for several years and ownership must be willing to lose that playoff revenue. The owners are too greedy to do that and the fans are too deluded and believe that Desharnais and Plekanec are high quality centremen and that a defensive system with a whole bunch of grinders along with Carey Price in nets will bring the Cup to Montreal. Weber is a great defenseman but a Cup team needs 3 or 4 quality rear guards and at least 2 HOF quality centremen and at least 3 gritty high scoring wingers. Equally important is a coach who has the necessary hockey IQ to motivate players and adjust in-game to changes and use the proper personnel and not just his favourite little soldiers etc etc. I am tired of the same old same old. Nothing will change. The coach and GM are not NHL calibre and there are only about 6 players who actually have any meaningful value in this league.