Another questionable game. Another positive outcome.
Two well-timed goals, along with the staunch play of Carey Price, earned the Habs another victory, despite the fact that their strong second period was sandwiched between two sessions of Boston pressure. While the third period can be partially explained by score effects, another game in which the Habs earned two points with one point's worth of effort is definite cause for concern.
The holes are apparent, and they start with the team's newest player, Bryan Allen. Allen not only failed to fill the roster spot he was slotted into, he singlehandedly unravelled what had been an effective weapon.
Tom Gilbert, paired with players like Andrei Markov and Mike Weaver, has done a masterful job of neutralizing tough competition, even when deployed regularly in his own zone. Despite the challenge he has undertaken, Gilbert has been positive on possession, relative to his teammates, in two-thirds of the Canadiens' games so far. In seven minutes with Allen last night, the pair got destroyed, giving up eight shot attempts while managing only one.
Challenging weeks like the one the Habs wrap up tonight are inevitably a vehicle for self-reflection. If the Habs are taking advantage of this opportunity, they'll lineup against Buffalo with a roster that maximizes this team's impressive potential.
How to Watch
Start time: 7:00 PM ET
In Quebec: RDS
In Canada: City TV
In New York: MSG
In the U.S.: NHLN-US
Elsewhere: NHL GameCenter, NHL Center Ice
Tale of the Tape
|47.57||Fenwick Close %||50.76|
|1.23||5v5 Goal Ratio||1.05|
Know Your Enemy
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The Rangers will also enter tonight on the heels of a 2-0 win, having doused a three game losing streak with a shutout of the Flyers. In contrast to the Habs, however, New York is coming off of three days' rest.
Unfortunately for the Rangers, those three days were not enough for Ryan McDonagh to complete his recuperation, marking the second straight game that the Habs will take on a team missing their #1 defenceman. On the plus side, Dan Boyle has now played four games since returning from injury, adding a stabilizing presence to a team missing its captain.
The biggest story surrounding the Rangers, however? The struggles of Henrik Lundqvist. After backstopping the Blueshirts passed the Canadiens and into the cup final, the Swedish Olympian has been just average in 2014-15. His .918 even strength SV% puts him right around league average performance, but a team like the Rangers needs better than that.
A Habs squad in real danger of regression will have to hope that Henrik doesn't decide to do the same.
Last Time Out
The Habs last game against the Rangers bears a certain resemblance to the game they played last night, as their game-winning goal was earned on the strength of a second period much better than the first or third.
The Rangers generate a considerable portion of their offence from their top six forwards, and while P.K. Subban played Rick Nash and co. to a draw, Martin St. Louis ran rampant over Alexei Emelin. With Subban and Markov often playing together of late, and the Habs choosing to dress a less than optimal defensive lineup, Michel Therrien is going to have to find a way to neutralize the Ranger forwards that aren't seeing Montreal's first pair.
If Therrien is unable to do so, the Habs may find that another superlative performance from their goaltender is what it takes to win.