Regular season game #5
Both the Habs and Jets came in to Tuesday’s game riding three-game winning streaks. Something was going to give, and it was the type of game where you cringed whenever anybody took a shot on goal; neither goalie was particularly special. My pool is not going to like this one little bit.
The Habs jumped out to a 2-0 lead thanks to goals by Bourque and Gallagher, who displayed the impressive skill and know-how of a seasoned vet. The kid’s a keeper. Speaking of keepers, that Galchenyuk is doing a good job of making folks like me eat their words. I thought Sarnia was a better place for him – not because his skills were not up to NHL standards – but because playing boys is totally different from playing against men. Not to mention the Montreal fishbowl that will soon come to expect miracles from him. Not enough good things can be said about the play of Montreal’s two greenhorns.
While the Habs have jumped out to a 4-1 start and enchanted the city with their sudden ability to score goals, there are still some serious areas of concern that have been a problem for a long time: faceoffs and giveaways. Montreal was almost 50% tonight, winning 34 of 69 draws overall, but the silver lining is that they won 15 of 24 draws in the third period, for a success rate of 63%. With no help on the way, only practice will fix this issue permanently. As for the giveaway minus takeaway differential, the Habs were a woeful minus, coughing the puck up 12 times, and only taking the puck from Winnipeg three times. Once the powerplay comes down from it’s frantic pace (or once the opportunities evaporate), that stat will come home to roost. Subban should help here, but not enough to tilt the ledger in Montreal’s favour.
Habs certainly look good, but their schedule can be safely described as soft, and their extended stay at home has helped them to put badly needed points in the bank. Their schedule will soon tilt to a road-heavy configuration, and considering the struggles of David Desharnais, the pressure to produce will trickle down to Plekanec (again) and Galchenyuk.
We can’t close off tonight’s recap by applauding the work of Michel Therrien. He recognized Desharnais and Eller’s struggles and gave limited ice time in the third period. He didn’t bench Galchenyuk after taking an ill-advised penalty while the team was on the powerplay. He once again kept Tomas Kaberle’s participation to a minimum and overall, managed to coach his team to a win when they very easily could have been staring down the barrel of a deflating loss. Finally, what more can be said of the buffet that Andrei Markov and Raphael Diaz are feasting on? Both are tied for the team lead in points with seven apiece in just give games. Surely this won’t last, but props to them for gorging while the gettin’ is good.
See you again tomorrow.
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