Date: 01/12/2015Opponent:Blue Jackets
Habs Goalie: Condon (W)
Opposition Goalie: Bobrovsky (L)
Habs goalscorers: Byron, Pacioretty
Max PaciorettyScoring the winning marker tonight, when the puck finds his stick in a scoring position he usually finds the back of the net.
Alex GalchenyukGalchenyuk was a level above everyone tonight in the first period. He displayed quick hands, good vision when distributing the puck (and avoiding checks) and skated hard as always. He was unlucky not to register a point tonight.
Dale WeiseWeise had been getting himself into good spots all night and was unfortunate not to have one earlier in the game. With 2:09 left in the game and tied 1-1, Dale got himself into another good spot. Instead of trying to jam it in himself he had the presence of mind to flip the puck back to the captain who banged home the winner.
Nathan BeaulieuNate is fast becoming the second best defenseman on the Habs. Tonight he took the body, moved the puck quick, skated into threatening positions offensively. He got tagged by a good one from Foligno right on the cheek bone and I’m glad he’s not hurt. Nothing wrong with sticking up for your teammate there. It was a missed penalty with a knee on knee to Fleischmann and while logically that put Montreal down to 4 defensemen for 8 minutes there’s realistically no time to think about that in the heat of the moment. I question why Gilbert wasn’t the man to step in as he had Foligno but let him go, but this only added to Bealieu’s complete game.
PK Subban - Game PuckHe did it all but score tonight... and fight. PK was physical as well, brilliant moving the puck and skating like only PK can (he’s no Bobby Orr though). Drawing the tripping penalty from Hartnell late in the game was probably due to the frustration of not being able to take the puck from PK all night. The icing on the cake was the role he played in puck control and distribution on the game winning goal by Pacioretty.
Mike CondonMike was quality all night making the saves he should. Were it not for him getting his pad caught in Markov’s leg, he would have been perfect and perhaps earned himself the game puck. He has proven to be a steadfast replacement for Carey Price and seems to have benefitted from the week break he got from Carey’s return before heading back to the IR.
CommentsThe third game without Price in the lineup is a very different situation than it would have been last year. Without the best goaltender and overall player in the league last year, it doesn’t seem like it’s that big of a deal. I’d hate to try and make a run at the Cup without Carey but if Condon continues to be solid, this team is proving that it’s more than just a great goaltender this year so you never know. As long as Mike continues to give Montreal a chance to win on a nightly basis there won’t be any temptation to rush Carey back in as I suspect was the case with his original return.
The first period was exciting. It was end to end and our skilled players; Plekanec, Pacioretty, Galchenyuk, Subban, etc. were playing like our skilled players and our overall speed was obvious. When Paul Byron scored a dandy on a flip pass from Christian Thomas it looked like Montreal was in cruise control, but then there was a series of unfortunate events. Alexei Emelin delivered a check off the puck. It looked like he was trying to obstruct a bit to prevent the Columbus player from going strong to the net, but Alexie hit him hard and the guy went down. In the age where head injuries are treated with the caution they deserve, Alexei was given 5 and a game. Fortunately the player was only winded. I think it’s unfortunate that the referees didn’t check this before issuing Emelin the game but at least Emelin won’t be suspended. At least he shouldn’t. Down to 5 defensemen didn’t seem to faze the Canadiens and they killed over the ensuing power play brilliantly. It was Nathan Bealieu going off for 8 minutes that seemed to take the wind out of Montreal’s sails that they really didn’t get back until late in the third.
To their credit, Columbus played a good road game. For the most part, they weren’t foolhardy enough to trade chances with the Flying Frenchmen. They slowed the game down to a grind and gave themselves a chance to win. While Columbus is far from a playoff team, these are playoff games. These are the games that Montreal had trouble winning last year. I believe the likes of Fleischmann and Byron add to the talented role players Montreal already has in their lineup. It is these players that, when the first and second lines cancel themselves out, that can make or break teams in the playoffs. Tonight it was Byron’s turn to get the Bell Centre faithful on their feet. This attack by committee where on any given night, any number of players can step up for the Habs is the most impressive feature of the 2015-16 roster in my mind.
At one point in time, Alexander Semin was a legitimate threat in the National Hockey League. Between the ages of 23-28 He was two points away from 100 once, scored 40 goals once, and scored more than 30 two more times. His production in Carolina dropped considerably, but there was hope in Montreal. For a very reasonable signing price, this Hab fan was hopeful that, with the high flying style of the Canadiens, that Semin could return to the form he showed while skating alongside of Ovechkin. While looking promising alongside Galchenyuk and Ellar in the preseason, Semin’s play has been disappointing 25 games in. He’s been a healthy scratch 7 times and in the 15 times he’s played he has just 4 points. In his most recent appearance he was removed from the second line with Galchenyuk and Ellar, a move that has seen Chuky emerge from his own scoring slump, and been relegated to third and fourth line duties.
He has the backing of his teammates and coach. Therrien, Subban, and Pacioretty have all come forth and commended Semin on his work ethic and attitude while facing reduced ice time and point production. A healthy attitude is a good start and I don’t believe if there wasn’t one there that players would be coming forth to his defense. It more than likely would just be politically correctly swept under the rug. With the right attitude there is always the potential for improvement. After all, at one point in his career, this man was a legitimate scoring threat.
But can you teach the 31 year old dog new tricks? You think Russian and you normally associate skill and speed with them. A brilliant fit into one of the fastest and overall most skilled teams in the league. But that’s not Semin’s game. You can see that Semin is not as fast as his former linemates of Ellar and Galchenyuk. Semin is a strong player who can shield the puck and cycle well and I’m not sure if that style of play fits into Montreal’s game plan. It hasn’t thus far. Maybe Semin just isn’t a good fit with Montreal and should be considered as trade bait down the road for someone who is. Now sidelined with a lower body injury suffered during the 5-1 defeat of New York last week, and with young stars like Sven Andrighetto, fitting into the lineup nicely, his future in Montreal doesn’t look promising.
One man’s misfortune is another man’s opportunity. A scoring slump and an ill-timed injury has opened the door for Sven Andrighetto. With the St. John’s IceCaps Sven was one of the more dynamic, exciting players to watch, potting 15 points in 17 games. At 25 years of age, he seems to have the youth and enthusiasm to match his new linemates of Lars Ellar and Alex Galchenyuk scoring two timely goals against New York and New Jersey. If he can keep up this level of play over the duration, the points will come and he may find himself Alexander Semin’s replacement.