Habs beat Bruins in Boston. And they didn’t even need Tuukka Rask (5-15-3 lifetime vs Montreal) to help them. We’re still in October and will be for another four games but the start of the new season is looking a lot like the start of the old season.

THE GOOD

  • Carey Price. First NHL goalie to play the position while in a hammock.
  • Brendan Gallagher. Quick, accurate release solved Anton Khudobin after the Bruins goalie made like he was sharp, mostly because he saw every puck fired in his direction.
  • Alex Galchenyuk. Started the play that led to Gallagher’s opening goal. He’s picked up a point in each of the Habs five games. In fact, since Galchenyuk was finally moved to centre late last year he has averaged a point per game.
  • Max Pacioretty. Perfect feed to Gallagher on the goal. The Habs are the highest scoring team in the NHL with their multiple 30 goal scorer sitting on one goal. A very good sign. He also delivered perhaps his best ever face wash with Joe Morrow on the receiving end during a scrum started by Gallagher (who else?) and Torrey Krug.
  • Shea Weber. Ho hum.
  • Paul Byron. Here’s one for the analytics crowd: Who’s the NHL leader in breakaways per minutes played? Byron (whom Chris Nilan says looks like a soldier from World War 1) scored the Habs first shorthanded goal of the year moments after Dominic Moore finally beat Price to narrow Montreal’s lead to 2-1.

  • Torrey Mitchell. Back breaker for the Bruins when Mitchell jumped on a turnover (which he created with some good stick work) and beat Khudobin while falling to the ice after he was struck above the eye with a high stick. Through five games Mitchell has been hit in the face with a puck, taken a knee to the head and now a stick near the eye. Just in time for Halloween. More importantly his three goals are tied with Gallagher for the team lead.
  • Phillip Danault. After struggling to control the puck inside the Boston zone earlier in the night he neatly finished off a two on one for his first goal of the season.
  • Alexander Radulov. It was Radulov who carried the puck down the ice and into Boston territory before feeding it to Danault to make it 2-0 late in the second period just moments after Price had made another good save (on a deflection) look easy.
  • Brian Flynn. The only Montreal forward still without a point but he played well back home in Boston. Just missed scoring early in the second when he deflected a Jeff Petry pass off the crossbar.
  • Andrew Shaw. Just for knocking Zdeno Chara on his rear end.
  • PK Unit. In addition to the shorty by Byron they (mostly Andrei Markov, Alexei Emelin, Flynn, Mitchell, Weber and Tomas Plekanec) set the tone early when Brendan Gallagher took a four minute high sticking penalty barely two minutes into the game.
  • A Chicago Cubs – Cleveland World Series. I’d like to live long enough to see the loser of this Fall Classic finally win again. And then to see the Expos return and do the same thing.

THE BAD

  • Nathan Beaulieu. A very rough night. David Pasternak twice turned him inside out. He struggled with the puck. When he had open ice on the power play from the point he shot it right into Khudobin instead of waiting for a screen or making a higher percentage play. The second time Pasternak went around him should have resulted in a 3-3 tie but the right winger’s cross crease pass to Brad Marchand was flubbed by the NHL’s leading scorer. To top off his night Beaulieu had the puck on his stick at the Bruins blue line with time running out and an empty Boston net, but inexplicably tried to fire a shot and score through a couple of bodies instead of dumping it in deep. The mistake forced his defense partner into taking a penalty on a streaking Marchand and put Boston on the power play with over a minute to play. The 6 on 4 quickly turned into a 6 on 3 after Petry’s clearing attempt went over the glass for a delay of game penalty. Fortunately for the Habs their PK unit ended the night the way they started it. Nights like this make you (ok – me) wonder if Beaulieu is indeed ready to be a top pairing defenseman. But as long as they win they have more time to decide.
  • Alexei Emelin. He was fine until he made a poor decision to pinch at the Boston blue line when the Habs were in total control of a 2-0 lead in the third period. Dominic Moore finished off a 2 on 1 to bring the Garden to life. On his next shift Emelin took a delay of game penalty. But that’s when Byron scored.
  • Where or where is Mike Johnson?
  • News that Jacques Demers was hospitalized after suffering another stroke just four days after appearing at the Habs home opener. Hardly seems fair. (Fortunately, it turns out it was an infection that landed Jacques in the hospital again.)

THE UGLY

  • Power Play. It was terrible. Worse than going 0-5 it looked like the same putrid power play of the last three years.  The game was closer than it should have been only because the Habs were so inefficient with the man advantage.
  • Bruins home record against Montreal.

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7 Responses

  1. Alex Nesrallah

    3rd- and 4th-line scoring started hot last year and fell off significantly. How big a role did that play in their demise (on top of everything else)? Hopefully they can maintain the depth scoring this year. Second only to Hawks on scoring (Habs have played one fewer game) and tied with Devils for fewest goals allowed. It’s still early, but nice nonetheless.

    • Mitch Melnick

      The great demise of 2015-16 was because of injuries to Carey Price and Brendan Gallagher. And an inactive GM. Wait – wasn’t P.K. Subban responsible?

      • Kevin Smith

        I know this sounds silly, but I also think letting go of Semin was an issue. While he wasn’t as productive as they wanted/needed, he was a legit top 9 forward that opponents saw as a threat. Letting him go, along with Gallagher’s injury, meant they went from having a top 9 to a top 6, meaning opponents could put stronger units out against the DD line which was so productive early on, as they didn’t really have to worry as much about the unproductive 3rd line. It also still baffles me that they didn’t try DD on the wing, because Eller clearly sucked there and Galchenyuk was clearly better up the middle.

        Back to Semin, tongue-in-cheek defence of him: look at their record with him (13-2-0) and without him (25-36-6)!
        Not tongue-in-cheek; he did go on to put up 15pts in 23 KHL playoff games, helping Metallurg Magnitogorsk to the Gagarin Cup. I don’t think he was a top-6 forward anymore, but could have remained as an offensive threat on the 3rd line (as he was at the start; though the DD line was pencilled in 3rd, it got more minutes than the Eller-Galchenyuk-Semin line)

        The above, among other things, is why I hate how much people wrote off the season as just about goaltending, which also ignores how good Condon was at times (21 starts with an above .923 sv%… plus 21 starts with below .900… and just 9 roughly average starts) and doesn’t question whether Therrien’s system may have a negative impact on goaltending (hence why Price needs to have a .940+ for us to win).

        Sorry, I know I have a lot of opinions/ideas/theories/nonsense/etc

  2. @SeanMcintyre403

    Great read. I don’t get why they start Markov and Weber on their regular side to start power play? On 1st PP they spent 30 seconds trying to switch and during that time I was shitting my pants thinking the Bruin PK which was very good and aggressive was gonna get a breakaway. Why not just start them on their off hand to start with? Your thoughts?

    • Mitch Melnick

      I’d have to watch again. Maybe it was just circumstance that had them on the wrong side but yeah – the whole point is to tee up Weber for a one-timer. I don’t know why they wouldn’t start that way unless movement is supposed to confuse the PK unit. I’ve liked the power pay since the opener in Buffalo. This was the first time it looked this bad. Maybe they got it out of their system.

    • Kevin Smith

      I think it’s likely because they can control the puck better on their strong side off the faceoff; puck comes back to you along the boards, you want to be prepared, and Markov often struggles with that on his off-side (not sure about Weber on the left). Heck, you might even argue that the aggressive PK of the Bruins gives even more reason to start where they are comfortable and only switch when they have control of the situation.

  3. Rick L

    Keeping Brad Marchand (2 SOG) and Patrice Bergeron (0 SOG) is always a good thing … will be ordering my Alex Radulov jersey shortly … along with my mustard-coloured Nashville #76 (whaadya-gonna-do) … he may only have one goal, but Max Pacioretty has more attitude this season, or so I think anyway …