Thoughts on the Past Week in Montreal Canadiens Hockey
I’m very sorry that I haven’t posted in a while. Unfortunately I got sick, and I am incapable of writing anything good while I am ill.
I am better now, so I thought I’d give you my thoughts on the Montreal Canadiens that have sprung into my head over the past few days.
Over the past week, the Canadiens’ record was 2-1-0, and they lost to the Tampa Bay Lightning 3-1 on Tuesday, they beat the Minnesota Wild 4-0 on Thursday, and they beat the St. Louis Blues 5-2 on Saturday. Tonight, they play the Wild again.
Thoughts on Tuesday’s game:
· The Canadiens started off really well, with a Jeff Petry power play goal in the first period, but they played on their heels for a stretch of seven or eight minutes at the end of the first period and at the beginning of the second. This is a big no-no against a team like the Lightning. If you relax for a second against them, the President’s Trophy winners from last year will make you pay. That’s exactly what happened. The Lightning scored three quick goals and put the game out of reach. The Canadiens have to learn to stay on their toes.
· Jeff Petry is surpassing Shea Weber in ice-time. We may be seeing a changing of the guard when it comes to the number-one defenseman role.
Thoughts on Thursday’s game:
· Gee… it’s been a while since the puck went from Victor Mete’s stick into the back of the net… well would you look at that! He just scored! Victor Mete with his first National Hockey League goal, after 126 games without one. The crowd went wild, as though Mete had just scored the overtime winner in game 7 of the Stanley Cup Final. It wasn’t a fluky goal either. It was a snapshot from the middle of the slot. A goal-scorer’s goal, as they say. Perhaps this means we can expect more goals from young Victor Mete.
· Oh, and Nick Suzuki scored the first goal of his young career. Did you really have to steal the spotlight, Nick?
· The Canadiens played a bad team Thursday night, but they made sure not to play down to the bad team’s level. It is a huge risk, when good teams play bad teams, that the good team will relax their game and let their guard down. That’s how a worse team surprises you. I remember my hockey coach would always tell my team to watch out, and make sure they aren’t playing down to another team’s level. The Canadiens showed exactly how to play against a bad team on Thursday, making short work of the Minnesota Wild, and only allowing 18 shots on net. Carey Price can easily handle 18 shots; let’s not kid ourselves. The Canadiens made sure that the Wild never doubted for a second who was the better team on the ice. That’s how you play a bad team.
Thoughts on Saturday’s game:
· Nick Suzuki with another goal. The kid has to top anything and everything. Mete gets one much-anticipated goal; Suzuki gets one and then adds another. But seriously, I’m really excited about this kid. He has the offensive skillset to become a reliable top-six forward on the Canadiens.
· Funny how I keep calling Suzuki a “kid”; he was born six years before I was.
· Shea Weber responds to Jeff Petry’s game on Tuesday with a goal and an assist against the Blues on Saturday. He still didn’t play more than Petry did, though. Maybe Weber and Petry could be a 1a defenseman and a 1b defenseman; both would play about 20 minutes a night. That way, both are well rested, while still having ample opportunity to contribute to the game.
· Brendan Gallagher had a fluky goal on Saturday. He floated a shot towards the corner of the offensive zone, with the idea of one of his linemates retrieving the puck on the forecheck. St. Louis Blues goaltender Jake Allen gets his stick in front of the shot, and deflects the puck into his own net. That will end up on the next edition of “Steve’s Dang-its”.
· Hallelujah, the Canadiens have finally figured out how to convert on a power play. While I don’t thing they can sustain a 25% success rate throughout an 82-game season, I do think that the Canadiens’ power play has proved that it is not as abysmal as last year’s. The puck movement is much better this time around, and the Canadiens are using other teams’ obsession with covering Shea Weber to their advantage. While other teams send half of their penalty-killing unit to Shea Weber’s corner of the ice, the Canadiens cycle the puck down low, and create scoring chances in front of the net. That is where most of their power play goals have come from. Perhaps it is a mark of the Canadiens’ success on the power play, that Shea Weber has not yet scored a power play goal.
· I have been hearing a lot of rumours that teams have called about Paul Byron. If I were general manager Marc Bergevin, I would not want to trade Byron for just anybody. The best waiver claim in the history of the NHL is extremely speedy, versatile, and is great on the penalty kill. As well, he is an alternate captain and a leader on this team. A lot of players would be very sad to see him go. I think Bergevin should trade Byron only as part of a package for a big-name player who would put the Canadiens over the top. He wouldn’t fetch a star forward or defenseman by himself, but perhaps he could be paired with a high draft pick at the trade deadline, and traded for a top-4 defenseman who would help the Canadiens come playoff time. It all depends on where the Canadiens are in the standings.
Les Boys are playing the Wild, again, in about an hour. I will be disappointed at anything less than 2 points.
Go Habs Go.
Signed, Le Bo