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Sunday Drive

Regular Season Game #4

I keep some canned text handy for whenever the Devils and Canadiens play. Game reviews featuring these two teams normally read “The Canadiens and Devils played each other tonight. It was slow, boring, tedious and enjoyed by nobody”.

That’s it.

We know the script. The Devils slip in a quick goal or two, then apply the sleeper hold. This night, the Habs looked to turn the script on its ear by jumping out to a quick 2-0 lead, and forcing the Devils to play catch up, which incidentally, they do quite well. For a while it looked like the Canadiens had broken free when Brandon Prust put the team up by two goals early in the third period. But the Devils, dogged lot that they are came back to tie the game and squeeze a point of the affair.

While the Canadiens skate away with another precious two points, there are still some glaring areas of concern. Faceoffs remain a problem, with the team only winning 21 of 59 draws all night. When Desharnais is your leader in faceoff efficiency, Houston, you’ve got a problem. They also continue to flirt with having twice as many turnovers as takeaways, and that’s not a good thing, either. Despite the win, there were a bunch of players who are expected to lead who did not deliver. Plekanec, Gionta, and Desharnais were all virtually invisible all night. It goes to show the Habs paper-thin depth and delicate balance in the top-six when Max Pacioretty is out of the lineup. Virtually everyone was lost. It’s to Alex Galchenyuk’s credit that he carried the offensive mail for the forwards tonight, along with Brendan Gallagher, who scored his first NHL goal on a sweet feed from the Habs third overall pick. Hard work through four games also earns Rene Bourque an honourable mention. With any luck, will soon be rewarded for his work. The biggest accolades, however, belong to Andrei Markov, who has not missed a step since having his knee rebuilt for what feels like the umpteenth time. His importance to the Habs early success cannot be overstated. Anyone who thought he should have never been signed, or that he should be bought out is fit for a dunce cap today.

A win is a win, and it would be awkward to linger for too long on the aspects that ail the team. Hopefully the coaches and players will work out the kinks while they continue to put points in the bank.

Through four games, Montreal look like a tenacious, energetic bunch who are definitely harder to play against. We’ve seen Therrien on the bench communicating with players, we’ve seen him emotional and we’ve seen him supportive of his players. All of this is the opposite of what we had to suffer through under the Jacques Martin regime.

Things start to get tougher from here for the good guys with games against the Jets, Senators, Sabres, Senators, Sabres and Bruins coming up.

Follow me on twitter: @kyleroussel


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