Regular season game #2
I kid, I kid. No matter the result, or how you slice it, the decision to make Lars Eller a healthy scratch is a baffling one. Coaches get let off the hook if their choices lead to a win, so we won’t dwell on this but let’s pray that young Eller finds his way back in to the lineup right away. After all, Therrien himself said that young players have to play.
Following Saturday’s loss to the Leafs, the top two lines were deemed to be AWOL for the most part, from top-to-bottom. Not so tonight. Plekanec opened the scoring on a sweet feed from Brian Gionta and David Desharnais reported for duty with a great bit of pocket-picking along the boards to start the play that led to Markov’s power play goal…his first goal with the Habs in a long, long time. We could choose to mention the lazy penalty that Desharnais took to start the second period which led to Florida’s first goal, but we’re trying to enjoy the season’s first win, right?
Suffice it to say that that was the start that Habsland was expecting for the season opener. Better late than never, especially in a season where falling behind the pack early is more or less a death knell. The second period started the way you thought it would given the Habs inconsistencies. They took an early penalty, gave up a goal and surrendered some momentum…that is until Markov put the Habs back up by two, followed by a beauty of a tip by newcomer Alex Galchenyuk for his first NHL goal (also of note was Brendan Gallagher’s NHL point on the goal).
The third period unfolded the way you thought it would. The Habs sat back on a 4-1 lead and in doing so took some penalties, but none as severe as the five-minute major taken by Ryan White when he jumped Tomas Fleischmann for running Gorges in to the boards. If one of Michel Therrien’s intentions is to make the Bell Center an inhospitable place to play for the opposition, then sometimes what White did is a necessary evil. Price (who was again spectacular) and friends made the rest look easy en route to their first win.
If This is the game template that Michel Therrien wants to move forward with then we may see some nice things this season. Though with one dodgy game and one strong game in books, we still have no idea who the real Habs are. In the quest for 8th place, the Habs took the first step forward, and it was a mandatory one. With 6 of their next 9 games at the friendly confines of the Bell Center, they absolutely must rack up wins before going out on the road where recent history shows they suffer badly. They were able to impose their will on the Panthers and their season rides on their being able to do the same on the road.