The Canadiens entered Saturday night's showdown with the Detroit Red Wings with a perfect 5-0 record; the first time in team history that they have started as such. And they would leave the Bell Centre still perfect, sporting a record of six wins with no losses to speak of. It has been a dream start for the Canadiens, and another great effort on Saturday night kept things going.
Image Credit: HockeyStats.ca
The much-talked-about Habs power play would get an early opportunity to test their legs again, after Joakim Andersson was assessed a minor penalty for a dangerous hit on Brian Flynn. While they were able to generate some chances, they once again failed to capitalize.
On a second opportunity later in the frame, they looked even more dangerous, but still couldn't find the net. At one point, Alex Galchenyuk deked the entire Detroit four-man unit on his way to the net, but his shot would deflect out of play. They were able to give the Wings a scare, which is encouraging, but there was still a distinct lack of finish to the power play unit.
It would take just under five minutes into the second period for the scoring to open, as Dylan Larkin attempted to centre the puck, Carey Price misread it, and it found its way through Price's legs and into the net. Price was his usual fantastic self up until the goal, and it's hard to fault him on the goal, as it looked like he was slightly screened by Andrei Markov on the play.
Shortly thereafter, Montreal would be awarded their third opportunity to work the man-advantage on the night, as Justin Abdelkader was penalized for roughing. This time, they would manage to strike, as a falling Brendan Gallagher would redirect the puck past Petr Mrazek with his skate. The play drew a lengthy review from the officiating crew, but they would ultimately rule it a good goal.
The line of David Desharnais, Dale Weise and Tomas Fleischmann was extremely dangerous all night, and just over five minutes into the third, they drew a penalty as Desharnais was tripped while driving the net on a rush. Fittingly enough, with Desharnais providing the screen on Mrazek, Jeff Petry unleashed an absolute bomb from the point to give the Habs the lead, with the much-maligned power play responsible for all of the team's scoring to that point.
Before Detroit could even pull Mrazek to attempt an equalizer, Montreal would add an insurance marker for good measure. Brendan Gallagher stole the puck low in the Detroit zone, fired a precise pass across the crease to Tomas Plekanec, and the veteran made no mistake, beating Petr Mrazek with ease.
To a chorus of Olés, the team closed out the game in style, but not before Brian Flynn could snag an empty net goal, with less than a second remaining on the clock for a 4-1 Final.
And so, the Montreal Canadiens remain perfect through six games of the young 2015-16 season.
- The powerplay obviously still needs work, but they looked dangerous on all of their chances, and it was where the game was won. It's a far cry from being perfect, as a late third-period chance was very lacklustre, but it was mostly great. Jeff Petry's bomb from the point should serve as evidence that they can be more than just a constant attempt to feed the puck to P.K. Subban.
- The Desharnais, Fleischmann and Weise line has been quite the sight to behold.They were absolutely lights-out on Saturday, controlling over 60% of even strength shot attempts while they were on the ice. Six games is a small sample size, but so far all signs point to them being one of the NHL's elite third lines. Hopefully they can keep it going.
- The whole team was dominant when you take a look at the numbers. At even strength, the Canadiens controlled nearly 60% of shot attempts for the game.
- You couldn't possibly ask for a better start to the season, and you couldn't ask for a better game either. They absolutely dominated Detroit, and the only line that failed to post a positive shot-attempt differential was the fourth line. It was close for the most part, but looking at the advanced stats, it was basically a walk-through for the Habs, and a great game to watch if you're a Habs fan.
Cumulative 5v5 score-and-venue-adjusted fancystats after game 20065: Fenwick/USAT: 231-158 (59.4%): Corsi/SAT: 295-217 (57.6%)— Mathieu Roy (@Le_Matheux) October 18, 2015