Before we get into anything, Alex Galchenyuk is currently leading the NHL in points with 7 after 4 games. He's doing this while playing just 14:42 per game. Alex Galchenyuk is a boss.
A week ago Galchenyuk was named the top prospect in the NHL by Hockey's Future, ahead of Edmonton's Nail Yakupov, and watching the two play head to head you'd be hard pressed to disagree. Yakupov was completely invisible, while Galchenyuk was making things happen every shift.
Who wasn't invisible for the Oilers though, was Taylor Hall. I'm not sure that any other winger in the game dominates the flow of play for his team by a wider margin than Hall does. The only thing that worries me about Hall is how often he gets absolutely demolished by clean hits. Maybe he skates with his head down too often, or maybe he's just such a wrecking ball that he doesn't care about getting hit? Either way you have to hope he doesn't get hurt.
And he almost did get hurt last night, but not by a clean hit. Lars Eller put a bad hit from behind on Hall just over midway through the third period, and the Habs were extremely fortunate that it was only a two minute minor. Eller may be facing supplemental discipline for the hit, but if we haven't heard anything on that yet, it probably isn't going to happen.
After the loss in Calgary, Michel Therrien shuffled the lines in Edmonton with varying degrees of success. Plekanec with the Gallys worked from a scoring perspective, but were pretty soundly outplayed from a possession perspective. Putting David Desharnais with Rene Bourque and Brian Gionta resulted in disaster at even strength, as that line carried under 30% of the Corsi events at even strength, and got caught in their own zone constantly.
The Desharnais line wasn't helped by being backed up by Francis Bouillon and Nathan Beaulieu either. Beaulieu made a ton of very nice plays, but it was still his first game of the year, and Bouillon had a really rough game.
There was some encouraging usage though, as it seems like every two games Therrien gets things right. Max Pacioretty being used on the penalty kill is a very, very smart idea. He has the defensive instincts and dominates puck battles, which will allow him to break out with speed multiple times per game. He had a breakaway last night but just missed going post and in on Devan Dubnyk.
And speaking of Pacioretty, putting him with Lars Eller and Daniel Briere looked like a very smart decision as well. That line was give almost entirely defensive zone starts during the game, and they ripped through the Oilers.
P.K. Subban led the team in ice time once again, recorded three assists, dominated possession, and that's just becoming a normal game for him. He played 3:16 on the penalty kill, more than Andrei Markov, and paired with Markov at even strength forms one of the best pairings the NHL has to offer.
Peter Budaj was as solid in his first start of the season as you could ever reasonably expect a backup to be, though he didn't face the defensive breakdowns that Price has had to deal with thus far. It begs the question of why exactly the Canadiens seem so willing to tighten the defensive system around Budaj but not Price? Are they just more confident in leaving Price out to dry and pushing the offense? It doesn't seem that successful to be honest.
Speaking of things that aren't successful, the Habs' penalty killing unit continues to bleed goals. The PK is continuing to chug along at the same pace as last season, a paltry 79% efficiency. They've given up a goal in every game this season, something that has to change there, and soon.
Check out The Copper & Blue for more Oilers vs Habs coverage.
More from Eyes On The Prize:
- Highlights of the Habs' 4-1 win over the Oilers
- Joe Thornton's c*** (and other links)
- Canadiens at Oilers - Top Six Minutes - Habs top Oilers 4-1
- Getting to know the young Oilers