1. Carey Price hasn’t lost in a long time.
It was October 29, 2015 that Carey Price last lost a hockey game. Of course he was injured over a long span of that time, but since his last loss he’s posted a record of 9-0 with a 1.44 goals-against average and .948 save percentage.
Given the Canadiens allow the fifth-most shots against per game (32.9) and have been peppered in shot attempts more games than not to begin the season, good goaltending has factored into every single point the Canadiens have earned so far this season.
2. Alex Galchenyuk wasn’t terrible in the faceoff circle tonight
Alex Galchenyuk has been struggling in the faceoff circle. Before last night’s game his faceoff winning percentage was a lowly 33.5 percent. Last night against the Canucks he was the best faceoff man in the game winning seven of eleven draws and posting a winning percentage of 64 percent.
3. It took the Canadiens thirty minutes to get going
The first half of the game was some of the sloppiest hockey you’ll ever see. The Canadiens couldn’t connect on any passes and only registered three shots in the first twenty-eight minutes of the game while surrendering 20 to the Canucks on 38 shot attempts.
If not for Carey Price, the Canadiens would have been down a goal or two. The Canucks seemed to lack confidence, which played the Canadiens’ favour as the Canucks had a number of two-on-one opportunities upon which they couldn’t convert. Of course, any chance the Canucks could muster was stopped cold by Carey Price.
4. The Canadiens have good players
Last night was not the best overall team effort you’ll see from this team. But they still won.
The Canadiens are gushing with talent right now, talent that is producing results. When you have operating in your ranks the likes of Carey Price, Shea Weber and Alex Radulov you can win games you have no business winning, as the Canadiens did last night against the Canucks.
5. Carey Price is an example of just how much a goalie can impact a game
Goalies who steal games on a regular basis are a rare commodity. While there are definitely a number of goalies capable of stealing a game here or there, the way Carey Price does it consistently, and without appearing to break a sweat is unlike any other goalie in the league.
The Canadiens lamented after last night’s game that they played poorly and escaped with the win. All credit went to Carey Price for keeping them in it, then after the Habs went up 2-0, keeping the Canucks off the scoreboard despite the Canadiens’ being flat for pretty much the entire game aside from the end of the second period during which they scored twice.
It’s not just that he got the job done, it’s how he did it. Did it seem like the Canucks were going to break him at any point? Every save was made calmly, and usually shut down the attack, including a couple of two-on-one saves and a breakaway on Jannik Hansen.
6. Nathan Beaulieu is working hard and was rewarded for it last night
Nathan Beaulieu has had an up-and-down start to the season, but he’s been trying really hard. His effort was paid off last night with his first goal of the season, a goal with effort written all over in it as he drove the net and swatted home a rebound.
While he wasn’t perfect last night, the goal was the pivotal moment of the game, as the Canadiens were being outshot 20-5 when he scored and gave the Habs a lead they would not relinquish.
What’s encouraging about Beaulieu’s play is that despite making a few glaring mistakes, he’s maintained his confidence and drive to work through the kinks to find a new level to his game. He’s challenged himself this season, and if he has to get there through hard work alone this can only benefit the Canadiens.
7a. The Canadiens penalty kill is really good
The Canadiens killed off five penalties last night and allowed only eight shot attempts on those five kills. The Canadiens are ranked second in the league with a 90 percent penalty-kill efficiency, and have held the opposition to one powerplay goal in their last three games and four total on the season.
7b. So is their fourth line
A lot of the penalty-kill’s success involves personnel that are also on the the fourth line. Phillip Danault, Torrey Mitchell and Brian Flynn have combined for seven goals and five assists in the first ten games of the season. That’s twelve points for the fourth line.
This is probably the best fourth line in the league at the moment, and while Torrey Mitchell’s five goals in ten games is probably an unsustainable pace over an eighty-two game schedule, the fourth line’s contribution to the 9-0-1 start is undeniable.
8. Shea Weber destroys anything that moves
There seems to be an alarm that goes off in Shea Weber’s brain any time a player comes within a certain radius of the goal crease. Anyone who dares enter that zone will pay a price.
He was at it again last night, demolishing a Sedin at the side of the net, and chasing down anyone else who got to close to the front of the net. Watching him “activate” as opponents enter this space is a special thing, as he zones in on them and completely neutralizes threats.
He’s a very, very, very good defender.
9. Tomas Plekanec hasnt scored yet but the Habs are 9-0-1
Tomas Plekanec may not have scored yet in his first ten games, but he’s getting the job done defensively. What’s also to note is the fact that the Canadiens haven’t needed him to score for the team to win.
His role looks to be shifting for the time-being to focus exclusively on the defensive aspects of the game, going head-to-head with the other team’s best, which so far this season have included the likes of Sidney Crosby, Steven Stamkos and tonight Daniel and Henrik Sedin.
So far so good.
10. All’s well that end’s well...
I guess if you’re gonna be unhappy about a win, at the end of the day, it’s still a win.