After a hot start to the season, the Montreal Canadiens have cooled off of late, with a 5-4-1 record in their last 10 contests. The following are the key points from last night’s loss versus the Ottawa Senators.
That was a very sloppy opening period
It wasn’t exactly a coach’s dream to open the game last night, with lots of missed passes, penalties, and the occasional breakaway chance for each side. Throw in a pointless Chris Neil versus Andrew Shaw fight and you have a period coaches would rather forget.
That being said, the Habs created plenty of solid chances, including Brendan Gallagher ringing a shot off the crossbar. It’s much easier to forgive a 20-minute stretch like that when the team owns the puck for most of the period, let’s just hope it’s not something that becomes a regular occurrence.
That powerplay blast
Shea Weber has been incredibly effective at putting the puck in the net on the man advantage. He picks his shots well, between a blistering slap shot or laser-like wrist shot, the main advantage being that Weber doesn’t always telegraph what type of shot is coming, teams have to defend multiple options with the Man Mountain on the left side. His league-leading power-play goal total is a boon for a team that struggled on special teams last year.
Feeling the Radulove
I’m running out of ways to describe Alex Radulov so far this season. He’s been a revelation for the Habs. Combining the relentlessness of Gallagher with all the skill of Galchenyuk, he’s providing a spark the team has been needing for a long time now. His goal last night was just another example of what he brings to the table, turning Mike Hoffman into a traffic cone, then beating three more Senators in close to the goal mouth. I’m not sure Montreal can afford to re-sign him, but I’m enjoying the hell out of his season right now.
Andrei Markov still has gas in the tank
Despite the knee injuries, and fans claiming he was finally finished after a slow start, Markov has been having a great run. The Russian defender had an outstanding game, with three assists against Ottawa, and now sits just one point off the assists lead this season, behind Connor McDavid.
His smooth passing set up Alex Galchenyuk’s rocket of a power-play goal in the third period. It’s more impressive when you realize the Habs were minus Nathan Beaulieu for a large portion of the game, and Joel Hanley barely played a shift.
Carey Price is human after all
I’m not blaming him for the goals against; one was a perfect shot from Hoffman, another barely trickled over before he corralled it, and one deflected off of Jeff Petry’s skate. Price is amazing, that much is true, but he can’t stop bad luck or perfect shots every single time.
After bobbling a puck early in the game Nathan Beaulieu seemed to settle in and looked to be playing quite well. Then he took a puck in the throat and was taken to hospital as a precaution. Hopefully it’s nothing serious.
Had enough of Hanley
I don’t understand the fascination that Michel Therrien has with Joel Hanley. He never did anything of note in his time in the AHL, and at the NHL level he’s been torn apart each game he’s played this year. Enough is enough: play Greg Pateryn or call up the only guy in St. John’s capable of holding his own.
Pay Alex Galchenyuk
Seriously, back up the Brinks truck to his house and pay the man. The young forward is proving why he should have gone first overall in his draft year (thanks Edmonton/Columbus), with a skillful power-play goal tonight. With silky-smooth hands, a rocket of a shot, and undeniable chemistry with his fellow countrymen in Radulov and Markov, Galchenyuk has come into his own this year. He now sits just three points off the league scoring lead.
It’s always Ottawa
The Habs/Sens games defy all logic and reason every single time. The Habs have scored three goals in less than five minutes and won in OT, Ottawa managed to be relevant in the playoffs by beating the Habs one time. Tonight the Canadiens put on a possession clinic, but a few miscues caused a train wreck in the end. It’s not the end of the world, in fact there are plenty of positives, it just sucks losing to a rival.
Chris Neil serves literally no purpose on the ice