What an extremely odd, bipolar game that was. When the game was close, the Montreal Canadiens dominated the Dallas Stars to the tune of a 60% Fenwick. Overall, even though they led from a very early point in the game, they kept even strength Fenwick to 50%, which isn't bad when you're sitting on a lead.
What's interesting though, is seeing the sharp divide between the players that deserve to be here, and those that don't. 50% was the final even strength Fenwick percentage for the Habs, but while any of the top three lines were on the ice, the Habs had a 63.3% Fenwick. While the game was close, the Habs' top-9 had a 73.0% Fenwick.
The fourth line of Patrick Holland, Michael Blunden, and Ryan White weren't on for a single shot or missed shot against the Stars. Not a single one. Yet 13 skaters and Carey Price played brilliantly, and who is NHL.com talking about? Who is Canadiens.nhl.com talking about? Who are fans talking about? Douglas Murray.
Douglas Murray, who also put up a 0% Fenwick at even strength, who couldn't hang onto the puck to save his life, who couldn't clear the zone, who took a ridiculously selfish and undisciplined interference penalty late in the third period in a one goal game. He's being described by not only media as the player of the game, but Michel Therrien himself! Therrien benched P.K. Subban at the end of the game and played Murray with Andrei Markov in the 90 seconds. What happened? Well the Stars immediately got a scoring chance until Markov and the forwards bailed him out and kept the puck away from him.
Therrien tempted fait many a time in the game, at least three times starting Murray, Francis Bouillon, and the fourth line in the defensive zone with no reason to do so, resulting in a ton of near misses and forcing Price to be excellent.
The one master stroke that Therrien devised for the game was to hard match the Tomas Plekanec line against Tyler Seguin, Jamie Benn, and Erik Cole, and Plekanec's line crushed them. All three Stars ended the game with below 30% Fenwick.
The best thing about the win though, was signs of life from David Desharnais' line. Desharnais himself had a few scoring chances, and finally went to the net. He's beginning to make the plays that he needs to make in order to create goals, and although he didn't get an assist on Rene Bourque's fourth of the year, he was a big part in making it happen. Bourque himself was Erik Cole of 2011-12, which is a hell of a lot better than Erik Cole of 2013-14. Bourque was drawing penalties, creating chances, and looks like he already has some good chemistry with Louis Leblanc.
Leblanc has also acclimated well to the NHL. After looking jittery in his first two periods of play, Leblanc has put up a 66.7% Fenwick over the last four periods. He's still double clutching a little bit on his shots, but he had at least two very good scoring chances last night, and played four and a half more minutes than his debut. Not bad for a guy most thought would spend the year in the dog house. Leblanc's call up and the situation they're putting him in sends a message to every Bulldog, if you play well enough, you'll get a chance.
Speaking of chances, and seizing them, Michael Bournival should be the toast of this town. A Québécois player who played a career high 17:09 last night, scored once again to notch his seventh point in the last seven games, and lead the Habs in shots. Why isn't this a bigger story?
And don't forget to check out reaction from the losing side at Defending Big D, a great site.
More from Eyes On The Prize:
- Max Pacioretty could be back this weekend
- Patrick Holland assigned to the Hamilton Bulldogs by the Montreal Canadiens
- Canadiens vs Stars Top Six Minutes - We'll Take It And Rejoice Edition
- Scaring children on Halloween for a good cause
- The fallout of the Kessel and Seguin trades