Canadiens Show They’re Still Alive With Win Over Powerhouse Jets
Updated: Sep 4, 2019
They’re not dead yet.
With a decisive 3-1 win over the Winnipeg Jets, the Montreal Canadiens maintain their tie with Columbus for that second wild-card spot.
I say “maintain their tie” because the Columbus Blue Jackets beat the Nashville Predators 5-2. They’re still tied with the Canadiens in points, and hold a game in hand.
Anyway, Montreal got a power-play goal (!) in the first period from former Jet Joel Armia to open the scoring. In the second period, Jeff Petry then extended the lead to 2-0 on a shot from the point that bounced off a few people, plus a post. Mathieu Perreault gave Jets fans some hope that their team would claw back, when he scored in the third period to make it 2-1. The Canadiens defence would probably like to have that goal back. After the Jets pulled their goalie, some hard work from Andrew Shaw led to Jordan Weal getting an empty-netter, his 8th point in a Canadiens uniform, having assisted on the Armia goal. He’s been great. A Weal-ly good acquisition, if you will. The Canadiens limited the Jets’ chances, allowing only 24 shots on goal, while shooting 44 of their own.
· The Canadiens were extremely tight defensively. While there were some problems with their transition game and zone exits, in terms of quality chances the Canadiens did not give the Jets much. Limiting a powerhouse team like the Jets to only 24 shots on goal is no easy task. Pundits pointed at the Canadiens’ defence as the main negative point of this team, but I think they’ve performed admirably when needed to. There were occasional defensive breakdowns, most notably the Canadiens’ defensemen forgetting that Jets players exist on the right side of their zone, during the Perreault goal. However, overall the Canadiens’ defense was fine. They were particularly good when the Jets had pulled their goalie, preventing the Jets’ big guns from getting quality scoring chances.
· In the vein of defense, I really like that second pairing of Brett Kulak and Jeff Petry. That is one speedy, aggressive, versatile, offensive pairing. Mike Reilly better get comfortable in the press box.
· The two Canadiens power plays that I was there to watch performed very well. The first was very short, because the Armia power play goal happened quickly. Based on the fact that the Canadiens scored on that power play, one can conclude that the Canadiens performed well on said power play. The second power play was, though fruitless in terms of goals, impressive nevertheless. The Canadiens’ puck movement was superb, getting the puck moving around the Jets zone and setting up good shooting chances (A.K.A Shea Weber). Once Weber got the shot away, there was a good net-front presence, courtesy of Andrew Shaw, to create a scramble on the rebound. Unfortunately, Connor Hellebuyck is too big to get scored on in tight like that.
· Speaking of that second power play, on the one chance that the Jets had shorthanded, the Canadiens were excellent at shutting it down. Phillip Danault, coming back into his own zone, dove just in time to prevent the Jets player (Kevin Hayes?) from getting a shot away. I really like Danault. He’s like a mini-Patrice Bergeron. His commitment defensively is superb, as demonstrated by his effort on the Jets’ shorthanded chance. He is also very good offensively, with 51 points on the year, a career high. If the Canadiens were to have an organizational Selke winner, it would be Danault.
· When I saw that the Jets had pulled their goalie and Jonathan Drouin was on the ice for the Canadiens, I thought to myself, “Drouin can’t play defence, he might make a mistake that will cost the Canadiens the lead. Get him off the ice!” It appears I was mistaken. Drouin put in a very good effort on defence while the Jets had the extra attacker, which is rare to see from him. If he could bring that defensive game every night, I would appreciate him a lot more.
· I don’t like Bob Cole. I just can’t stand the guy. I’m very happy that he’s retiring after this season, and I wish him well. Perhaps Bob Cole was a good commentator in the 1970’s, but he’s old now and has trouble following the game. He also enjoys pointing out the Canadiens’ flaws, a habit that I find very annoying. Case in point, Cole mentioned many times that the Canadiens were playing sloppy in their own zone, that the Jets were all over them, that the Canadiens are having trouble clearing the zone, etc. While these statements are somewhat true, they do not need to be repeated over and over again. I thought Gary Galley was the colour commentator who is supposed to voice his opinion on the game, not Cole. I much prefer the younger, more dynamic duo of Bryan Mudryk and Dave Poulin, of TSN. Their commentating is more light-hearted, of a faster pace and overall more enjoyable. If Bell and Rogers can make a deal, I would love for TSN to call Canadiens games that would usually be broadcasted by Sportsnet, so that I can listen to Mudryk and Poulin on Hockey night in Canada. This would never happen, but I’ve heard nothing on who’s going to replace Cole as commentator after he retires, so anything’s possible.
· The team that needed to win this game, won this game. The team that could afford to lose this game, lost this game. The Canadiens needed to win this game, as they had come off an embarrassing 6-2 loss to the Columbus Blue Jackets, who then beat Nashville 5-2 tonight. Losing two straight is not a recipe for success at this point in the season. This was a huge win for the Canadiens. With Nashville losing to Columbus, the Jets could afford to lose this game. They have clinched a playoff spot, it’s just a matter of who their opponent is. The Jets still hold a game in hand over the Predators, maintaining their grip on the top spot in the Central Division. However, as mentioned above, losing streaks are not good signs at this point in the season, and the Jets are currently on a three-game skid. This doesn’t bode well for them, as their current slump could haunt them in the playoffs.
· Just to laugh at all those Leafs fans out there, you guys lost to the worst team in the NHL, the Ottawa Senators, again! Ha!
Go Habs Go.