Thursday, November 02, 2017

Canadiens Fly Past Senators

Date: 30/10/2017
Opponent: Ottawa
Location: Canadian Tire Cenre
Win: 8-3

Montreal Goalie: Montoya (W)
Ottawa Goalie: Anderson (L)

Montreal goalscorers:  Hudon (2), Pacioretty, Lehkonen (2), Galchenyuk, Gallagher, Plekanec
Ottawa goalscorers: Pyatt, Dzingel, DiDomenico

Pre Game

I couldn't help but to feel a bit nervous heading into this one.  A blow out loss to L.A. at home followed by a blown lead to the Rangers that nearly resulted in another.  Lots of questions surrounding Carey Price as well with very few answers.  I knew the team on paper could beat the Sens but that team hasn't shown up very often. 

I felt relief knowing Montoya was getting the start; not because it gave the Habs a better opportunity to win, but because it gave Carey a much needed break.  He needs to get his head in order and I think a few games off would do the man some good.  I just hoped that Montoya could be could enough to give Montreal a chance, the players deserved at least that. 

Dome hockey team

The 6 players we're playing in a no changes, do or die contest in the dome


Charles Hudon - Game Puck

He was dynamite to watch tonight.  Great move on Karlsson and a snipe as he's falling down for his first, and deft hands to quickly put the puck on his backhand and then top corner for his second.  Both goals, very meaningful as they were scored before Montreal started running away with it (I know, they're all meaningful).  With play like this from the "third line" the Canadiens might have the balanced scoring to turn this season around.  When you score your first and second goals in the NHL in the same game, you get the game puck.

Thomas Plekanec

He wasn't as flashy as Drouin, but a goal and an assist wasn't a bad night.  He's our best in the faceoff circle and was the only centre (Lehkenon's not a centre) above .500 at winning them.  Honourable mention certainly goes to Drouin.

Arturri Lehkenon

Great showing from this kid tonight.  It's only one game but hopefully it's the start of some real chemistry with Drouin.  On top of some solid play all around that was a great passing play with Drouin and a good second effort on Paul Byron's drive to the net.


Shea Weber 

Just another day at the office for Webs.  Big on defence with three blocks and quietly contributing on offence as well.  It's too a point, now, where Shea has reserved seating in the dome, but if he keeps leading this team by example, rain or shine, we'll be lucky to have him.

Jamie Benn

The fact that there's been a revolving door to pair up with Weber in the dome was a sign of how inconsistent the rest of the defencemen have been.  The last four games it's been a sign that all of our defencemen have it in them to step up to an elite level.  Benn was good.  He also had three blocks and managed to chip in offensively with a beauty pass to Galchenyuk.  He's looking much more confident with the puck and it's showing by how well he's finding forwards to break out of his own zone.


Al Montoya

When Pyatt scored 21 seconds into the game I think I heard a collective groan from Habs fans across the country, but he settled down after that allowed only 2 more goals over the next 59:39.  The team played pretty good in front of him tonight but he still made some key saves, not the least of which was against Zack Smith late in the second period. 

Play of the Game

This is more a series of events that really tipped the course of this game in Montreal's favour.  Where it not for the series of events that ended the second period, I think we have a third period that's more closely contended.

With 2:27 left in the second period and the score 4-3 it's looking like Montreal is going to hang on to a 1 goal lead heading into the third and I'm just praying they don't blow it.  Jordie Benn picked up the puck harmlessly in the corner, then launched a saucer pass as good as any I've ever seen from a Canadiens defencemen to a speeding Galchenyuk.  The instant I heard it was Galchenyuk on the end of that pass I knew it was a goal.  I just had that feeling that Alex isn't going to miss and with the confidence of a 30 goal scorer it was potted for a 2 goal lead.

Feeling pretty good going into the third period with a two goal lead we called on Montoya to keep it that way when Zack Smith was sent in on a break.  Petry managed to get a stick in and Montoya shut the door to keep the 2 goal lead.  Another big sigh of relief as an Ottawa goal so quickly after Montreal's and so close to the end of the period would surly swing the momentum in the wrong direction.

There's less than a minute left when Brendan Gallagher stripped Karlsson of the puck, muscles his way down the ice, fends off another Ottawa defender, undresses Anderson, then pots a true highlight reel goal to give Montreal a commanding 3 goal lead.  That was it.  The wind was out of Ottawa's sails.  There were no more dreams of making a comeback in the third.  The proverbial nail was hammered in the coffin.   

Post Game

What a treat to watch that game from start to finish (well, from 0:21 in to finish).  The Canadiens played pretty good defence, were excellent on the break outs and were an offensive machine.  Any game where I get to watch the Canadiens score 8 goals is a good day.  The fact that it was over the Ottawa Senators makes it all the sweeter (I still remember the Gryba hit on Ellar).

The Good News is we can score!  That makes 18 goals in the last 4 games.  Who needs Price if you're going to score 4 goals a game?  I kid of course but I'm cautiously optimistic that Julien has found the winning combination with the lines and defence pairing.  Of course we don't suspect this trend will continue season long (would we be so lucky) but it looks like the forwards have found a way to score.  Even Galchenyuk on the fourth line is beginning to score regularly.

The Bad News is that our backup goaltender is better than our starter.  Montoya wasn't great but he was solid, made big saves when needed, and gave the Canadiens a chance to win.  Price simply isn't doing that this year.  Without Price playing like Price, Al simply doesn't have the talent to be as good as Price could be.  There'll be no Stanley Cup unless Mr. Price finds his way.

This was a treat to watch.  Obviously scary after letting one in 21 seconds after the puck dropped, but when you bounce back like the Canadiens did you can forgive that.  This was a game that everything went right.  All the "puck luck" that saw bad bounces cost the Canadiens games up to this point was repayed in full, the one shot.  Despite a lot of things going right for the Canadiens after a lot (understatement) of things going wrong, this was a decent hockey club that the Canadiens just beat.  The Sens are a middle of the pack team with a good, well rounded offence and a very good penalty kill.  Beating them was certainly a step in the right direction.

Here's something to think about.  The Canadiens are first in the league in shots on goal for and seventh in the league for fewest shots against.  All they need to do is get their shooting percentage and save percentage up to league average and they'll win more games than not.  As it stands right now, we need average shooters and average goaltending to turn this season around and make the playoffs.  That's doable right?

Montreal is in Minnesota next.  They're a bottom dweller just like the Habs but probably a better team than their record would suggest, just like the Habs.  Away games are always tougher but for the first time in a long time, I'm more confident than nervous to watch the game tonight.  Here's to three in a row.


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