Regular season game #28
The same old, same old resumed tonight in New Jersey. Is there anything worse than a Habs/Devils matchup on a Saturday night? For a sleep-deprived father of a rambunctious toddler, I actually welcome the game’s sleep-inducing effects.
The game was drawn & quartered as per the anatomy of the Habs season through much of the season: strong first period, listless second period, and a saw-off third period. What was notable about this game is that with the Habs clinging to a 2-1 lead with fewer than five minutes to go, coach Michel Therrien had no issue with trotting out Jarred Tinordi, who was playing his first NHL game, to protect the lead. The young man did not disappoint, nor did he look out of place all night long. In fact, he downright looked like he belonged in the NHL, notching an assist on the game winning goal, being a plus player in over 14 minutes of ice time. If he can continue to play well, he may very well save Marc Bergevin a draft pick.
Let’s also give credit to Carey Price. For a guy who has needlessly suffered the slings & arrows of Habs land lately, he pushed aside 32 shots in what was a very strong performance on the road. He may not have had to make many game saving, back-breaking stops, but he was there on the many occasions when the Devils came knocking.
The game typified life for a young NHL, as the line of Eller-Galchenyuk-Dumont was all over the ice in the first period; they ran down the opposition, picked their pockets and terrorized the Devils. Being the good coach that he is, Peter DeBoer made his adjustments in the first intermission and from that point on, we didn’t hear much from that line for the rest of the night.
We would be remiss not to mention the penalty kill unit which continues to struggle badly. It would be more of concern if the team isn’t so strong at even strength, but it is, and the team has moved to 19-5-4, which is now twice as many wins as combined regulation and overtime losses. Nobody in their wildest dreams thought this was possible, and as the Canadiens continue to cement their reputation as legit contenders, the only question to ask is can they keep pace with the Penguins and Bruins. To think that we’d be having this discussion more than halfway through the season requires a pinch from a vice grip. The Habs continue to rack up the wins, and they’re doing it in fair & square, without tricks. With the flaccid Sabres up next, the Habs could be knocking on the 20 win threshold before the 30-game mark.
They can’t throw dirt on the previous regime quick enough. But this is the way to do it.
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