It’s as if the NHL schedule maker knew that Carey Price would miss the first three games of the season and would need a warm up before facing the Bruins in Boston. Enter the Arizona Coyotes, one of the youngest teams in the league whose best player was 40 year old Shane Doan. Price, no doubt overjoyed to be back where he belongs, seemed to be smiling a lot under his mask. His next start should be a lot more intense. The Coyotes have so many obvious holes right now they make Donald Trump’s policy ramblings appear semi-coherent.

THE GOOD

  • Shea Weber. How’s he doing so far?
  • Brendan Gallagher. Always wondered what it would look like if Gallagher played without any opposing defensemen on the ice. Now I know. Nine shots on goal.
  • Tomas Plekanec. Welcome to the new season. Looked a lot more like his old self (including just 45% in the face off circle).
  • Alex Galchneyuk. Perfect shift in the second period when his strong back check stripped the puck away from Tobias Rieder who was was alone on the left side of the Habs zone about to test Price. A few seconds later Galchenyuk turned Doan into a pylon and ended Louis Domingue’s night with a snap shot for his first goal of the season.
  • Alexei Emelin. Another strong effort which included a formal welcome to the Bell Centre for Laurent Dauphin (Credit to Dauphin. He wasn’t fazed. The former Chicoutimi star was one of Arizona’s better players. He’ll never forget his 2nd NHL goal either). Emelin also ended a scoring drought that dated back to 2015 when his perfectly placed hard slap shot from the top of the left face off circle (with Andrew Shaw as a screen) opened the scoring. The play actually started deep in Montreal territory when he dumped the puck out. But instead of icing it he sent it all the way to Domingue who was forced to freeze it. Thanks to David Desharnais and Paul Byron the Habs controlled the face off to get the puck to Emelin.
  • Torrey Mitchell. Just like a season ago when the Habs 4th line centre had a very good October (5 goals in 12 games) Mitchell is off to a good start but his second goal of the year was mostly Nathan Beaulieu. The Habs defenseman carried the puck down the right side of the ice before he was knocked down from behind by 6’6″ Martin Hanzal. But Beaulieu never lost control of the puck, kept it in front of him, got back up and delivered a perfect cross ice pass to Mitchell whose one timer made it 3-0.
  • Jeff Petry & Andrei Markov. They look good together. This is the Petry we saw after the Habs acquired him from Edmonton. Maybe even better.
  • Arturi Lehkonen. Two goals in four games to start his NHL career. Only two rookies in the NHL have scored more.
  • Alexander Radulov. Not on the scoresheet but he makes a couple of dazzling plays a game.  Early in the second it was a neat pass that sent Plekanec in alone which forced Max Domi to take a slashing penalty and put the Habs on the power play.
  • Power Play. Weber’s first goal as a Hab was a classic Weber blast – after everybody on the ice (Shaw, Radulov, Plekanec and Markov) had touched the puck. And Kirk Muller’s grin could be seen all the way from Kingston.
  • Late second period shift. It began with the 4th line plus Weber and Petry in Arizona territory but continued with Plekanec and Radulov as the Habs played keep away (and fire away) for well over a minute. We’ve seen Montreal get hemmed in their own zone like this a couple of times a year but it was the first non-power play shift of its kind (aided by a Coyotes broken stick) that I can remember in a long time.
  • Carey Price. Welcome back. One game in and his save percentage is a familiar looking .931.
  • Max Pacioretty. This –

  • Michel Therrien. This (and no second guessing from Gallo) –

THE BAD

  • Both Arizona goals. Two bad give aways. The second by 18 year old Mikail Sergachev who, like Price, was down and out in the crease and in desperation handed the puck to fellow 18 year old defenseman Jakob Chycrun (it was also a Sergachev give away that started the play). May Sergachev’s first NHL goal be as easy. The first Coyotes goal was the result of a bad decision by somebody who should know better by now. Up 4-0 and on a power play Nathan Beaulieu was too nonchalant in attempt to carry the puck out of his zone. He got knocked off his feet by Dauphin and lost possession to Jeff Richardson whose shot was stopped by Price. But an uncovered Dauphin knocked in the rebound. The reason Beaulieu was in his own end to begin with was the result of another one of his weak slap shot attempts from the point. Emelin’s slapper is better.
  • Phillip Danault. As Daniel Carr watches from the press box because his coach says he’s not generating enough scoring chances, Danault, while not looking out of place, through four games has one shot on goal.
  • Zach Redmond. Poor guy was likely closing in on his Habs debut but broke a bone in his foot during practice and will miss six weeks.
  • St. John’s Ice Caps. What is going on up there? Already 0-3. Michael McCarron has been suspended two games for head butting. They’ve brought in 35 year old career minor league goalie Yann Danis. Their leading goal scorer is another career minor leaguer – Chris Terry. And Mark Barberio, who will likely be recalled if/when Sergachev gets sent back to Junior, is already -8.

THE UGLY

  • Jose Theodore and Michel Bergeron. Both ripped Carey Price for not playing through a serious flu. Price was on antibiotics and lost eight pounds. It must get lonely at TVA. Bergeron has been spewing crap for years. He became a hockey clown a long time ago. But Theodore? Somebody needs to talk to him. Because at this rate he’ll soon be remembered as Bergeron’s tag team partner scaring hockey fans from Lacolle to Hudson Bay – instead of the last Montreal goalie to win the Vezina and Hart trophies, prior to Price (maybe that’s the issue?).  Legacies can die easily.

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4 Responses

  1. Kostas

    Great read as always.
    Thanks
    Ugly Bergeron probably still upset over Alain Cote non goal.

    • Mitch Melnick

      I have a lot of respect for what Bergeron did for Quebec City in the NHL. I barely know him personally. But as a broadcaster, something I know a little about, he appeals to the lowest common denominator. He’s not about to change. But Theodore is just getting started. Message to Theo: Aim higher.

  2. Kevin Smith

    Not to direct this at you specifically Mitch, but I really feel like the media needs to be putting more pressure on Bergevin regarding Lefebvre and the AHL team. They’ve missed the playoffs, what, 4 years in a row now? They haven’t developed any regulars (the closest is Beaulieu, but frankly he developed in the NHL, not the AHL), they make baffling decisions regarding the lineups, and they’ve clearly wasted what was once seen as prime talent (were Leblanc and Tinordi bad draft picks, or did our development system ruin them?).

    How can they justify this? They won their first game last night and it took a stellar goaltending display, 50 saves FFS!, in order to do so. Something needs to change, and it needs to change 2 or 3 years ago.

    I implore you and your media colleagues to tear them a new one until something is done to change the disaster that is the Canadiens’ AHL affiliate.

    • Mitch Melnick

      You can only hide behind “developing not winning” for so long. Part of the developmental process is also learning how to win.