1. Not so much a takeaway but a question:
Why is Michel Therrien afraid of moving David Desharnais to the wing?
It's something that has been bugging me (and likely you) for the longest time. Why doesn't Therrien give his diminutive doll a shot at being an NHL winger? Desharnais does have all the qualities necessary to be a winger in this league; he is quick, creative, has an accurate shot and is a good passer. Spare me your groans and moans, Desharnais has been an effective player in the right situation for Montreal and I think that if Therrien plays him the right way he can be a valuable asset and really help the team. The question remains: Why does Therrien keep Desharnais away from the wing? The answer lies in Alex Galchenyuk and Lars Eller.
At the beginning of the year when Galchenyuk was moved to the middle fans and media went crazy trying to figure out who Therrien would move to the wing. It was soon revealed that Eller was the one pushed over in favour of the young American. Eller was good enough at the wing but his recent run down the middle suggests that Eller should not ever, EVER, play anything but center. This leaves Galchenyuk and it comes down to one thing: Trust.
Therrien doesn't trust Galchenyuk down the middle against top opposition. He trusts Plekanec, he trusts Eller and he trusts Deharnais to go up against the league's best but Galchenyuk just isn't there yet.
Therrien's standards may be warped but they are high. Galchenyuk has to earn the trust and play the way his coach wants him to play before getting back to the middle of the ice.
2. Nathan Beaulieu being a healthy scratch for a 2nd consecutive game should not rile you up.
Yes it is very frustrating that Therrien is willingly making his team worse by keeping Beaulieu out in favour of the obviously inferior Alexei Emelin, but don't fret too much about it.
Apparently Beaulieu was left out of the lineup on Saturday against Edmonton because he was late to practice. If that's true then that's 100% on Beaulieu. With the Habs spanking Edmonton Therrien didn't see the need to change his lineup hence Beaulieu being out for another game.
Of course there is the notion that Therrien just doesn't like Beaulieu and the Habs will trade him because he has a bad attitude...but no GM does that.
3. The Canadiens' 4th line needs to be better.
This is something that the Habs didn't have to worry about when they were dominating every game. They were able to roll 4 lines and get production from all 4 trios.
Therrien has last change, the faceoff was in the Hurricanes' zone and the line of Joakim Nordstrom, Jordan Staal and Jeff Skinner hopped on the ice. The camera happened to be focused on Therrien and he barked out "MITCH" which led to the 4th line being deployed. This meant that Therrien was alright with them defending Skinner and Staal. The three were not able to contain the Canes as they beat the Habs to every puck and won every board battle with ease.
4. To be more specific, DSP needs to be better.
What stood out to me on that opening goal was Devante Smith-Pelley getting hit behind the Hurricanes net and giving up the puck which led to the change in possession and eventually the goal. There was no fight from DSP. No protest to being checked. He just let it happen and let the puck slip away.
As the game moved along I kept an eye on him and he got better as the game went on. Initially he looked lost. He couldn't read a play and was a turnstile as his teammates tried to coordinate a cycle in the offensive zone. I don't know what clicked but late in the 2nd he was driving the net and creating offense.
He has had a rough year and need to be better, bottom line.
5. The Habs responded well to Carolina's early goal.
It's not how you start, it's how you finish. Brendan Gallagher said it best on Saturday after he was asked about Edmonton's first goal of the game to make it 4-1. He alluded to the fact that they didn't fold or go into a shell, they kept pressing and didn't let the goal take anything away from their game. I think the Habs did that against Carolina. An early goal against at home can be deflating and set the tone for the rest of the game but the Habs looked primed and ready to get it back by putting up a few good chances immediately after the goal.
6. Alex Galchenyuk, Tomas Plekanec and Brendan Gallagher were incredible in that response.
Even though Galcheyuk isn't playing center he's still an amazing hockey player. The three work well together. They barely spent any time in their own zone. They were hungry all day, ruthlessly attacking the net with creative cycling.
To delve deeper:
At the end of the 1st period their ES shots for/against numbers were: 8-1, 8-0, 8-1 respectively.
7. David Desharnais was impressive.
Hi first takeaway! Seventh takeaway has a follow up.
I really liked Desharnais yesterday...it further illustrates my point that he can be effective in the right situation. While games like the one he had aren't as common as you'd like them to be he did perform well on Sunday. To be specific; Max Pacioretty's 20th of the season doesn't happen without some great off-the-puck work by Desharnais. The Hurricanes had controlled possession in their own zone until Desharnais crashed in and stirred things up. He caused a turnover and got the puck back to the point. Then he went right to the net and engaged in a battle with John Michael Liles. That battle made its way in front of Cam Ward and as Desharnais was muscling Liles into Ward's field of vision Pacioretty sniped it and Ward was blinded. Goal.
8. Another Ten Takeaways another note about how Lars Eller is amazing.
Mandatory. He's great.
9. Ben Scrivens was awkward and excellent.
He reminded me a lot of Tim Thomas. He was keeping everything out and doing it like he was getting shot at by a paintball gun. He kept the Habs in it.
10. The Habs won. That's a big deal.
The last time the Habs won consecutive games was November 25th-27th.