I wasn't going to do a post on tonight's game between the Montreal Canadiens and the New Jersey Devils, expecting a major snooze fest.
It had it's moments of boredom, but I really don't think anyone expected five goals out of the Canadiens.
I'll be honest, I had just finished my dinner to catch the start of the game when Lars Eller scored the second goal of the night, and chased Johan Hedberg out of the crease, in under two minutes.
It certainly was an unusual night. After spending most of the game making some observations, and making a few comments on Mike Boone's HIO game blog, there were several questions debated and needing answers.
Did Jacques Martin do the right thing by making P.K. Subban a healthy scratch?
It could be debated as a tough love situation, but Martin got two messages out.
First, it gives Subban a chance to reflect on his season. His performance on Wednesday was a mess, and a night off was a good idea to give the rookie a break. Martin likes the kid, as evidenced by the minutes he's getting, and it was time that Yannick Weber got an honest look. The fact it was against a lowly Devils team, that is missing Zach Parise, Martin Brodeur and the real Ilya Kovalchuk, was a great moment to do it.
Weber played a strong 17:10, and added an assist. With a strong, contending team in the San Jose Sharks rolling in on Saturday, I strongly feel that Subban will be back in the lineup and Weber, barring any injuries, will be back in the press box. I'm obviously going against Martin's typical "stick with the winner" formula, and probably in the minority at the moment, but pre-game there were a lot of you thinking the same thing.
The second message from Martin, is that anyone, no matter how much you are making, who is underachieving could find themselves sampling the press box catering. There are others on this team that are on the cusp of being there.
Can people learn NOT to say/text/tweet "shutout" when their team has a chance at one?
Despite five goals at the other end the Canadiens' Carey Price was kept busy, facing 28 shots and coming up big on several occasions. It was especially noted during a 5-on-3 Devils power play in the second period.
Unfortunately his bid for the whitewash was lost in the third period, when Jason Arnott scored at 8:18. It was the second time in a week where Price lost a shutout bid in the last 20 minutes, through no fault of his own.
Is Jacques Martin doing the right thing with Lars Eller?
Yes, he is. Eller finished the night as the game's First Star with a goal and an assist. He also appears to be gelling well with Benoit Pouliot every game. The rookie was 3-8 in the faceoff circle, but then nobody on the Habs stood out in that stat tonight. With the power play coming around, there is no need to panic and put him up there just yet.
So we have Eller coming along and Price leading the league in wins, GAA and SvPct. One word: Hmmm Yeah I know, it;s getting old.
I guess we could call Eller the anti-Pacioretty, willing to learn on the third/fourth lines and eventually work his way to a top-six spot. In the meantime Pacioretty is doing things the way he wanted, and succesfully, in the "A."
Just imagine that pair together in another year, or less!!!
Can the power play exist without Andrei Markov?
It has quietly moved up to 11th in the league without him. I mentioned this in our November review that the power play has to work as a unit, rathee than rely on an individual. So far it seems to be working.
Has Scott Gomez approached the turnaround point?
He may well be on his way. Gomez has scored power play goals in successive games, which temporarily got the fans back on his side.
As things can go with the Habs faithful, he was back on the other side after a missed open net and was also the lone player with a minus-1 rating, when he missed his coverage on the Arnott goal.
Suffice to say Gomez, and his salary (which is unfair to use for comparison) will always be the "what have you done lately?" target for a few more years. But at this time last year, Gomez started turning things around too, and we all saw what happened for the good.
Who buys the next family dinner at the Gionta household?
Habs captain Brian Gionta squared off against little brother Stephen Gionta for the first time in their careers. The elder brother scored the first goal of the night, just 11 seconds in, and Gionta the younger played a spirited game, with three shots on goal and an even rating. Their parents, and other family members, were all in attendance.
Stephen is working hard to stay with the big club. If he has even a shred of his older brother's work ethic, that should not be a problem for him to accomplish.
Pulling a goalie after just 1:38 in. Is that a record?
I don't know, is it?
Ever wanted to watch a hockey game in a morgue?
The Prudential Center is probably as close as you will get. I thought the Nassau Colliseum was bad.
Who gets fired first, the Devils John MacLean or the Toronto Maple Leafs Ron Wilson?
Injuries to Parise and Brodeur aside, the Devils are a disaster and MacLean can't get his team motivated. Making Kovalchuk a healthy scratch earlier this season probably did not gain him much support from his players. Will Larry Robinson be back behind the bench in the next game?
The Leafs meanwhile were simply beaten 5-0 by the Edmonton Oilers. Tick....tick....tick..
Saturday afternoon, win or lose?
Well if we go by the chart from the last couple weeks....
The Devils fans take at In Lou We Trust