It was moments after the game had ended following a late winning goal when I was taken back in time. Kirk Muller and J.J. Daigneault were behind the bench exchanging congratulatory handshakes, but not your normal post game handshakes. This was a very 90s looking fist in fist blood brothers kind of grasp. The RDS camera stayed with the happy assistant coaches as they walked (and talked) across the ice together and I couldn’t help but think of the giddy spring of 1993 when both played huge roles in leading the Canadiens to their last Stanley Cup. As they walked out of camera sight it hit me. Don’t let Kirk Muller leave again.
- Shea Weber. Surely the most talked about blast of a goal of the young season. But all many of us could think about was Travis Hamonic whose life surely flashed before him – but not quite at the speed of Weber’s shot. Second straight win for the Habs via the power play. That’s seven points in the last 4 games for Weber while increasing his league leading Plus/Minus figure to +12. He led his team with 4 blocked shots and 3 hits. All in an economical 24:30.
In moments like these, I feel bad for Greiss.
Nothing was stopping that Weber shot. pic.twitter.com/nwp3K5bNhe
— Marc Dumont (@MarcPDumont) October 27, 2016
- Brendan Gallagher. Very fitting that it was Gallagher who drew the late slashing penalty by heading to the net. It was the only Montrteal power play opportunity of the game. Suddenly the Habs PP has moved to the middle of the puck at just a shade under 20%. Gallagher was the best player on the ice, not just because of his game high 7 shots on goal.
- Paul Byron. It was Byron’s neat little feed that freed up Gallagher and forced Nick Leddy into taking the late game changing penalty. Byron opened the scoring by cashing in a Gallagher rebound. Only two Montreal forwards have more points.
- Andrew Shaw. Looked more like the effective energy player he had been prior to his meeting with NHL Director of Player Safety Stephane Quintal. Missed a couple of breakaways. Might be watching too many Tomas Plekanec videos.
- David Desharnais. Must have done something right even without firing a single puck at the Islanders net. His line mates – new and old – stood out for the right reasons. The three of them were rewarded by being on the ice when the game winning goal was scored. And yet –
— bobby dollas (@bobbydollas1) October 27, 2016
- Michel Therrien. Byron was playing alongside Gallagher because of the terribly listless first period by the Habs. Replacing the captain on the top line certainly had its desired effect as Montreal buzzed the Islanders for much of the second period only to be stymied time and again by Greiss.
- Greg Pateryn and Nathan Beaulieu. Both looked like seasoned vets. Maybe Beaulieu is the Lars Eller of Habs defensmen.
Each time Beaulieu is challenged (preseason trade rumour, 3rd pairing demotion) he has responded with a big game. Maybe he needs tough love?
— Sean Coleman (@SColemanCTV) October 27, 2016
- Torrey Mitchell-Brian Flynn-Phillip Danault. Just like the start of last season the Habs continue to get scoring out of their 4th line while the team waits for the big guns to start firing.
- Alexei Emelin. Other than an unfortunate blip, Weber’s new partner continues to impress. So when was the last time Emelin had the second highest minutes played in a game?
- Jeff Petry. Perfect feed to Weber for the game winner. Another smooth night. And, frankly, it’s not easy right now hanging out with Andrei Markov.
- Al Montoya. Allowed goals only via a bad giveaway and through a screen.
- Emelin on the Islanders first goal by John Tavares. In control of the puck until he decided to embellish in an effort to draw an Andrew Ladd penalty. Ladd’s stick was up but it didn’t force Emelin to snap his head back. While he took his eye off the puck Tavares pounced on it to give the Islanders some much needed life.
- Max Pacioretty. Clearly needed a wake up call and was much better once he received it. And to his credit, he was on the ice and helped get the puck back to Petry at the point on the late third period power play.
- Alex Galchenyuk. On the one hand, Galchenyuk set up Gallagher with two Grade A scoring chances. On the other hand, he had a lousy third period. I wouldn’t be worried about him.
- Tomas Plekanec. There they were in the second period – another terrific set up by Alexander Radulov that Plekanec couldn’t quite bury. At least he got the puck on the net this time. The Habs are 6-0-1 while getting just one goal out of their top two centermen.
- As I put it to TSN’s Scott Cullen “Is there really a serious player in the analytics community who thinks that Shea Weber is not a really good defenseman?” Full conversation here. Scott is one of the good guys. But following the conversation I was reminded that the Habs had fired their previous analytics consultant – Matt Pfeffer – presumably over his strong objection to acquiring Weber. As he told Ken Campbell of The Hockey News in July “He’s (Weber) good, he’s serviceable…there’s nothing wrong with being average in the NHL. An average NHLer is worth a heck of a lot and that’s what Shea Weber is.” Pfeffer openly expressed what so many members of the analytics community think. And believe, no matter what. The dreaded eyes tests done in real time? Damn them all. Well clearly, to borrow a line from “Cool Hand Luke” – What we have here is failure to communicate. We give the second to last word on this to Gord Miller who says of Corsi “Maybe Corsi isn’t the measure of an individual player…accepting it as a stated fact when it hasn’t been proven….I think there’s a lot of interesting stuff that has come from analytics but until you can show me an analytic that makes Sidney Crosby the best player in the league or one of the best players in the league…he’s not in the top 25 in Corsi from last year. From last year’s Penguins team Sidney Crosby had the 6th best Corsi rating…the problem with analytics – if you listen to them all the time – you wind up with a team full of Jakub Kindl and Tom Gilbert. And one other thing, with due respect to a lot of people in the analytics community…they would do their side a lot of good if so many of them weren’t so absolutely one sided and arrogant….there are some – not all – in the analytics community who would tell you the numbers don’t lie. They do.” Final word?
@HunterZThompson The “Weber isn’t good…” Why do we have to endure 82 games when teams can just submit spreadsheets in Oct & award the Cup?
— Tickles Radulov (@chile_pepper) October 26, 2016