Over the past few days there has been some pretty extensive discussion in the numerous other corners of the Habs’ Universe as to what exactly is wrong (or right?) with the Canadiens after 5 games. Eric Engles said something that I wanted to repeat here which was this: “Sometimes you can do 100 things right, but the two you do wrong end up biting you.” In regards to the Canadiens play over the past 2 games – I couldn’t agree more.
Sure, the game against Colorado was sloppy. There was ample room for improvement. Still, the Habs had a 1 goal lead with about 5 minutes to go in the game when Raphael Diaz was penalized on one of the softest tripping penalties I’ve ever seen. On the ensuing PP, a seeing eye puck beat price in to the far corner: an inch either way and it hits his pad or the post. A shootout loss is what it is – a terrible way to lose a point, but reality in the modern era of hockey. In the end that game was disappointing for the fact that Montreal had out-shot the Avalanche in the 1st and 3rd periods, controlling the play for long stretches, only to fall short.
Tuesday night Montreal dominated the Sabres. To day it was the best game of the year for the Canadiens would be an understatement. I haven’t seen a Montreal Canadiens team control the puck in the offensive zone like that in…. lets just say a long time. Max Pacioretty ended the game with 9 shots. He had a few more that missed the net. Tomas Plekanec had 5 shots, went 11-7 on face-offs and missed a wide open net when it was 1-0 which would have changed the entire dynamic of the game in the 2nd period. His line with Eller and Cole was very strong. Gomez went 14-8 on faceoffs, and while he still didn’t find the score sheet – his line ensured that there were 3 lines skating circles around the Sabres all night long. Gionta, Moen and Darche all had solid chances next to #11.
The line of David Desharnais, AK46 and Max Pacioretty was phenomenal. They were big on the puck and generated countless scoring chances. There aren’t too many games in which your line can get 13 SOG and be held off of the score-sheet.
Raphael Diaz scored his first NHL goal on an absolutely fantastic play by Kostitsyn.
Alexei Emelin led all teams in hits and played a solid 15+ minutes. So did Hal Gill.
Subban ended the night with a fantastic 4 shots and game-leading 25 minutes played. He was a -2, but that stat is unfair because he was on the ice for Josh Gorge’s mistake icing, and the final goal into an empty net.
If those types of things happen night in and night out from this point in the season – Habs fans are going to absolutely LOVE the results.
So the Habs are 1-3-1 after 5 games. Big whoop. Talk to me after 20. Even then, it will still be too early to make a real judgment on what this team is capable of doing.
Pittsburgh is devastated by injury right now. They’re essentially missing their top line and top defensive pairing. That hurts. Even so, they’ve been very good considering. This is definitely an opportunity for the Canadiens to gain their second win of the season if they can play a complete game like the other night in Montreal. It would also go a long way to soothing the nerves of the jittery fan base who get on edge any time the Habs trail the Leafs in the standings.
Go Habs Go!!!!