1. Welcome to the NHL, Morgan Ellis.
It looks like the coaching staff saw what we saw in Victor Bartley, and left him out of the lineup in favour of the debuting Ellis.
Let's look at Ellis' road to the NHL:
Drafted in the 4th round, 117th overall in 2010
4 full QMJHL seasons
3 full AHL seasons
1 full season going back and forth between the AHL and the ECHL. This was last year, not his first pro year...that's hard to go through.
All of this led to his debut last night. Performance aside, what a moment for the lad.
I thought he looked good. Nothing flashy, didn't notice him too much...which is a good thing.
A bad late penalty that led to the game tying goal hampered the debut a bit but overall, a solid and composed performance.
Better than Victor Bartley, that's for sure.
2. I don't care what position Alex Galchenyuk plays as long as he does it for the Montreal Canadiens.
He was glorious last night. I could get used to those one-timers. He is showing that it doesn't matter where he plays. He's just good.
3. The experiments begin.
The Habs are in "let's experiment" mode. Michael McCarron, Phillip Danault and Jacob de la Rose were 3 of their 4 centres last night. This wouldn't be a big deal if the Habs didn't move Alex Galchenyuk, Lars Eller and Torrey Mitchell to the wing for this to happen.
This is all the evidence you need to confirm that the Habs know the season is done and that they are taking inventory for their summer plans. It's not necessarily a bad thing. The only qualm I have is Galchenyuk not getting the same chance that the other 3 are getting.
The argument can be made that he got that chance earlier in the season and didn't pass the audition. If that's the case then I have some serious doubts about the competence of management's ability to evaluate talent.
Of course, the above note is an extreme that is most likely false. The likely scenario is that they just want to see how things go with their new blood before giving the reigns back to Galchenyuk.
4. We are seeing vintage Andrei Markov.
It's a shame the games mean nothing because Markov is playing some of his best hockey.
That pass to Galchenyuk was a thing of beauty. It actually beat the cameraman. Galchenyuk was off-camera and by the time the camera caught up to the puck it was in the net.
He did it all last night. Offensive creativity, blocking shots on the penalty kill. It's good to see.
5. The Refs were awful.
This is probably the first time I have talked about officiating in one of these pieces. Maybe the second time.
Andrew Cogliano boarded Pateryn hard. I mean hard.
Pateryn was hurt on the play, the Habs reacted like hockey players do.
There was no call on the board. The Habs got a hell of a lot of penalties for the aftermath.
I have no problem defending a teammate after a dirty hit. I have no problem with the coach voicing his frustrations over terrible officiating, especially when a player got hurt after an unnecessary hit.
You want to talk about player safety? The players will do what the refs allow them to do.
The Ducks were filthy last night. Trying to injure more than trying to force their opponents to turn over the puck. It was shameful.
6. The Habs' penalty kill was ferocious.
Fueled by the lithium ion battery that was Mike Condon, the Habs were perfect during the onslaught of undeserved man-advantages that the Ducks were awarded. Condon was insane in that sequence. He was confident in his positioning, and challenged shot and after shot. He didn't give up any rebounds which would have led to sure goals.
Law of averages caught up to them but overall it was a valiant performance.
7. Pateryn still needs time to learn.
His play was pretty much on track with his development path: good but not quite there yet.
He made one play that both impressed me and made me cringe as it began and then unfolded.
He corralled the puck on an awkward back pass, gained control and then spun behind his own net while under pressure from a forechecking Duck. Everything was good up until this point. He had good position, he kept himself square and he used the net as a teammate to alleviate the pressure from the forechecker.
Then he broke free from behind the net.
He doesn't have the skating ability to get free like P.K. does. He should have passed the puck off or put it off the glass, before he got the chance to do one of those things he was swallowed by the forecheckers and lost the puck.
That wasn't his only one of the game.
8. McCarron passed the audition in my eyes.
Size aside, he has all the tools needed to be an effective NHLer.
He has a long, powerful stride, is smart, and he uses his size effectively.
They know what they want him to be; that true number 1 centre that they've been craving for years. They have the chance to groom him into that in these last few weeks...or at least the chance to see if he can get there.
I see potential but I don't see gamebreaking superstar potential. McCarron has proved the doubters wrong so far, he has really come a long way in terms of his development and I truly believe he could pan out.
He looked good with Galchenyuk and Eller. Ideally you want Galchenyuk and Eller centering lines of their own but in theory if you give McCarron two wingers equally as gifted as the two he played with last night there is danger there. In a good way.
9. I wanted the win. The players wanted it more.
It's hard to get invested in games because of the standings. I'm happy the Habs were able to get me into a game. It was partially (or mainly) because the Ducks were turds, but the Habs never backed down from the thuggery and played their hearts out. That's what you want from now to the end of the season. Passion. Desire.
10. Some thoughts on the World Cup of hockey.
There was a lot of outrage about Subban and Galchenyuk not making the initial rosters for their respective teams. Allow me to pull you back down to earth.
Remember that this is an NHL created tournament. They are bringing a defunct tournament back from the dead to kick off its new partnership with Adidas. That's all it is. The fans will turn it into a national pride hockey war but from the NHL's perspective it is nothing but a money grub and an excuse to ice an international tournament while at the same time making a ton of money off of it. They don't gain as much by sending their players to the Olympics.
The whole point of this stunt is to generate interest in the World Cup. Subban was left off on purpose so you pay attention to the next announcement and generate buzz online. They want this to be a headline.
Plus, if P.K. doesn't make Team Canada he can always make Team Czech Republic