Habs Goalie: Condon (L)
Opposition Goalie: Fleury (W)
Habs goalscorers: Subban
Opposition goalscorers: Rust, Fehr, Hornqvist
Brendan GallagherBrendan was doing what Brendan does best; pressuring opposing defensemen, getting to the front of the net, and generally creating pandemonium all night. He created some of Montreal's best chances tonight. In the first period he teamed up with Plekanec to apply some great pressure on Pittsburgh. Gallagher also provided a great response immediately following the Holmqvist goal. Gallagher was one of the leaders on a night when some of our best players weren't playing as such.
David DesharnaisTo begin with, the 9 faceoffs David won were as much as any Penguin on the night (Crosby was the best Penguin with 9 wins himself), but David had a good all around night. In the first period, other than PK, it was David more than any other skater that was making things happen. Smart plays in his own end coupled by unmatched effort (at least by his linemates) in the opposing end.
The best of our forwards tonight. He didn't seem to have much working with him in the first period but during the early second period power play he created some brilliant movement with the vision we need from our future number one centre. Perhaps his best work on the night was late in the third when he was reunited with Lars Eller on his wing. He was also pretty nifty in the faceoff circle. Unfortunately, no matter what the dome forwards did, they couldn't find a way to beat Marc-Andre Fleury tonight.
PK Subban - game puckPK was brilliant tonight. There was one glaring mistake that forced a good save from Mike Condon but PK was otherwise marvelous. He carried the puck a little more and finally started letting that bomb of his go from the blueline, rewarded with his first goal in far too long. Let's hope that tonight was a peek at what the run to the playoffs will bring and not just a teaser. Keep in mind he also played 30 minutes (30:01) which is a feat in and of itself.
Mark BarberioFor the second time in as many games Mark Barberio will play in the dome for us and for good reason. Mark was also shooting from the point on the PP, something that I haven't seen enough of in recent games and did a hell of a job to break up a 2 on 1. It's to a point now where I'd like to see him back there on a 2 on 1 almost as much as I'd like to see Price. He was generally and noticeably in good defensive position which allowed him to block a couple of important shots, especially in the second period.
Mike CondonMike was awesome again tonight. It was tough not to give him the game puck. Subban was just that good tonight. His save on Crosby will be seen many times tomorrow. He made a similar save on Malkin and was sharp all night. Two goals allowed against this Pittsburgh team isn't too shabby.
CommentsI especially liked the look of the defensive pairing going into tonight, there was an offensively gifted player and stay at home defender on each pair. After last night I'd have Emelin and Barberio as the 3-4 pair but that's getting nitpicky. I liked the forward lines, for the most part, too. The only change I would have made is I would have left Eller with Galchenyuk. They truly do have some good chemistry together and showed that late in the third with some great shifts.
The good news is that Montreal could have won last night. It was a close game against a team that is far better than their record suggests. They, in particular Sidney Crosby, were in a bit of a scoring slump and general funk early in the season which saw a coaching change. Since the change they are looking much better. They're looking like a team that should be at the top of the division and conference, and Montreal could have beaten them. I'm not saying they should have but they had enough chances that with a bounce here or there the score could have been different. Fleury played a solid game against us and didn't make life easy on Montreal forwards trying to break out of scoring slumps. The defensive pairings was another step in the right direction. Markov needs to play with Subban. His intelligence and positional awareness allows Subban to do more, to play like the Norris Trophy candidate that he is and that's what happened tonight. The over all balance of the defensive pairings tonight was noticeable with how they all played.
The bad news is, obviously, that Montreal lost again, they failed to string together two wins in a row, again, and their scoring woes continue. I'm at a loss about the scoring. I know what Pittsburgh did that seemingly cured their scoring woes. New coach. I have never thought that Michel Therrien was the man to lead us to a Cup. Right now, the scoring slump is at least partly on his shoulders. I suspect Montreal management is hoping that a return by Price will change team mentality, either that or without Price the Cup is so out of reach that making any moves will be pointless. They may be right on either account. I just thought this team was more than just Price this year and I really think I'm right about Therrien.
How long is Price out anyway? I know the secrecy these days about players injuries, and outside of the Montreal medical staff and Price himself, not many people know the nature of his injury but by what he did to aggravate it and how he went down it looked like MCL which is what the injury caused by Chris Kreider looked like. These knee ligament injuries are tough to treat and tend to linger. How long will this take to heal? It's obviously serious if he's not back yet to the point where it might require surgery in the off season. I know his return won't come soon enough for Habs fans and players alike. Keep this in mind though. Mike Condon has played well (he stopped 29 of 31 shots last night) and Carey doesn't score goals.
It was a tough challenge tonight against a good team. We all would have liked a better result and the effort last night wasn't consistent throughout the full lineup. Pacioretty and Eller floated through most of the game and Galchenyuk didn't seem to have much help from either Carr or Andrighetto. If you take Patyrn's terrible brain fart away we have a tie game heading into the third. I'd like to see, moving forward, Jarred Tinordi get some time. At 24 he should be further along in his development than he is, part of that delay is his relegation in the minors. If he doesn't fit into Montreal's plans for the now and the future then he could be some juicy tradebait. At 6'6" 230 lbs there would be teams licking their lips at his size alone if he were NHL ready, and he could be. I think a serious look should be given to Tinordi with his future with the club taken into consideration. From a club point of view he is another guy who can fill in, in a pinch further adding to the immense depth Montreal has on the blue line this year. If only our biggest problem were too many quality defensemen.