1. For now, Sven Andrighetto belongs on the 1st line.
Andrighetto was reunited with Max Pacioretty and Alex Galchenyuk and looked great. Despite missing a wide-open net he did pick up an assist on Pacioretty's goal. He has the speed and the smarts to play with the captain and Alex Galchenyuk. His passing is crisp and his positioning without the puck is good, teammates find him open for good looks at the net.
Therrien still found it reasonable to demote Sven to the second line with Tomas Plekanec, and the Swiss responded with a goal of his own. He's looked his best on the top line, and should get more time there. Unless Montreal acquires a bona fide top line right winger, Sven Andrighetto could be playing on the top line next year.
2. The powerplay still sucks.
All year, every year, we complain about Montreal's power play. In fact, Michel Therrien has never overseen a good power play over a full season, even when he was in Pittsburgh with Crosby and Malkin. He's been back for three full seasons and has gone through three different power play assistant coaches and still Therrien can't get a good roster to look dangerous on the man advantage.
If Marc Bergevin wants to bring Michel Therrien back next year, he should ask the NHL to allow teams to decline penalties like they do in the NFL.
3. The fans aren't in it anymore.
There's only two more games to play at the Bell this season, and if tonight was any indication, they won't feel like typical Montreal home games. There were many empty seats for the Detroit game, despite Anthony Mantha having close to 50 family and friends in attendance.
What is normally one of the most intimidating places to play hockey was lacking any kind of sustained buzz, even the "olé olé olé" chants were barely audible as the dying seconds ticked off the clock on a Canadiens win. I didn't notice it, but I was told there were people wearing Habs jerseys who cheered for Detroit when they scored three quick ones in the second period. Two more left to go.
4. Mike Brown is preventing a better player from being dressed.
Montreal has had its share of injuries, sure - but Mike Brown has no business being on this team, and shouldn't be brought back next year. The moustache-sporting goon does more harm to the team than good. Tonight he picked up a stupid double-minor for roughing and cross-checking, during which Mike Green scored. That power play goal put Detroit up 3-2.
Brown later interfered with Jimmy Howard, causing a beautiful goal by Alexei Emelin to be disallowed. The referee's call may have been questionable, but you can't be touching a goalie in the crease when you're behind in a game. He has had one game with positive offensive contribution and otherwise has just been a fast skater who isn't very threatening. He hasn't even prevented teams from taking liberties on his Habs teammates, as we're lead to believe a good goon should. Let's give this spot to a young player with promise to develop, or a veteran player who is defensively responsible and can pop in a few goals.
What can Brown do for you? Not much.
5. Emelin's hit was not dirty, but it was dangerous.
Alexei Emelin makes his living by hitting people, and he's pretty good at it. His hit on Dylan Larkin briefly sent the young Red Wings forward to the dressing room and was definitely a dangerous body check. Larkin doesn't appear to have touched the puck, but at least he was very close to it. Emelin actually looked like he was trying to hit Zetterberg, who did have possession of the puck, but the two were close together and Emelin ended up rocking Larkin hard into the boards. It's important to note here that the hit was shoulder-to-shoulder and not at all from behind; it's reasonable to think this was not a malicious hit or intent to injure. This was the Habs' hard hitting blue-liner trying to do his job, and making an honest, but dangerous, mistake.
Hitting players three to four feet from the boards puts them at risk and has caused many serious injuries. Crushing a player who didn't touch the puck is wrong. Emelin could have tried to let up a bit when Zetterberg pushed the puck past Larkin, but didn't. He deserved an interference call, or maybe a two-minute boarding penalty, but not the major that put him in the box for five minutes. He also didn't deserve five for fighting, after he was jumped and punched by Justin Abdelkader.
6. Danault about you, but I think Phillip is improving.
Phillip Danault shows signs of his potential every once in a while, and those occasions are becoming more common. Tonight, the Victoriaville native played just under 12 minutes, fired two shots on net and blocked three from reaching Mike Condon. He's been a positive Corsi % player since his arrival and has looked good taking faceoffs. In his last five games, he's collected two points and maintained a net plus minus of zero.
He's not that noticeable in the defensive end, and that's good. He quietly does his job, and has flashes of opportunities in opposing territory. Danault is definitely doing his best to earn a spot on next year's squad.
7. The Canadiens have struggled in the second period of recent games.
Montreal has had inexplicable difficulties surviving the middle frame of recent games, where they haven't had a positive goal differential since playing the Buffalo Sabres back on March 16th. In the six games since then, the Canadiens have been outscored 15-3 in second periods, including two 3-0 surges by the Red Wings.
It's an enigmatic statistic that may not mean much, but falling further behind or blowing a lead through the halfway point of a game has to demoralize an already unnerved team. After Saturday's loss to the New York Rangers, Therrien was asked why he believes the Habs' have had trouble in second periods this month, to which he replied simply: "I have no idea." Neither do we.
8. Someone needs to pull the plug on the blender.
Sven Andrighetto had himself a great first half in Tuesday night's game, assisting on the first goal of the game and looking dangerous on every shift he played on the top line. The Habs' Head Coach saw fit to move a hot player down the lineup in favour of Paul Byron. The speedy winger responded well, scoring a goal and an assist after the change. Andrighetto also answered the move with a goal of his own, assisted by his new centre Tomas Plekanec.
Byron has been able to play up and down the lineup and had seen lots of time with Pacioretty and Galchenyuk but it's simply baffling that a coach would take two lines that were having success and mess with both. This has been Therrien's modus operandi and shouldn't surprise anyone, but it's frustrating to see a coach say he would give his young players more ice time and then demote one who looked as dangerous as Andrighetto, who has been the best choice at right wing for the top line this month.
9. Mike Condon deserved that win.
After being nominated for the Masterton trophy earlier this week, goaltender Mike Condon had a solid performance against Detroit on Tuesday. He faced 42 shots, including 23 in the third period alone. Despite being shelled he kept the game close when Montreal was behind, and shut the door once the Habs tied it up. The Red Wings scored three goals in less than four minutes, but Condon didn't get rattled and made important saves when the team most needed them.
I also noticed his puck handling is improving; he stepped out of the crease a few times tonight and was far more confident passing the puck or firing it around the boards for a zone clearance. This used to be a sloppy part of Condon's game and he seems to be getting better at it.
10. McCarron is not getting a fair shake.
Michael McCarron had his ice time cut for the sixth game in a row, he had a paltry 10:54 TOI against Detroit. The hulking forward wins faceoffs, goes to the right spots on the ice and sits second among all NHL forwards with more than 100 minutes played for shots/60 minutes with 12.47 (only Frank Vatrano is better with 12.53). Max Pacioretty is third on that same list with 12.31 shots/60. The only other Habs forward in double-digits is Brendan Gallagher. Despite scoring his first NHL goal against Calgary only four games ago, McCarron has been given an increasingly small time to show his worth.
He may be best to play in the AHL next year, but he's with the Canadiens right now. He's not being done any favours with limited time centering mediocre players.