1. Afternoon games aren’t always great
There are always afternoon games, and sometimes you don’t notice that they are played in the afternoon. This was not one of those games. I’m not sure if it was because it was played on a Monday afternoon, but it was a game that most people will want to forget if the lack of memorable moments hasn’t ensured that already.
2. Carey Price will be fine
The Canadiens lost this game, but it was 1-0. Carey Price made some key saves when tested, and the goal that did go in was not his fault. In fact, he almost managed to save it without even realizing it.
His save on Andreas Athanasiou was typical Price. Patient, calm, and made it look a lot easier than it should have looked. Even in a loss, this was a really good sign for the Canadiens.
3. Thomas Vanek, because of course
Of all the ways the Habs would lose this game, of course it would be a goal credited to Vanek.
Now, this goal was essentially a fluke, but Vanek did have a good game, and has had a sort of resurgence in Detroit after being bought out in Minnesota.
Vanek is best remembered by Canadiens fans for a poor playoff, but he has proven to still be a contributor in the NHL and I would argue his time with the Canadiens wasn’t as bad as most people remember it.
4. Jacob de la Rose needs to be better
If he has more games like he did today, it won’t be a very long stint in Montreal for the forward. Not only did he take an offensive zone penalty when Montreal was starting to get momentum, but he was not very good in possession, either.
Now, being on a fourth line on the road without a practice for an afternoon game is not how you should be judged, but de la Rose has work to do.
5. Zach Redmond had another really good game
Redmond is clearly gaining more and more confidence as he gets more playing time since his return against Minnesota. When he was on the ice, the team controlled over 85% of shot attempts at 5vs5 despite him starting 80% of his shifts in the defensive zone.
He noticeably stood the blue line several times to keep an offensive attack going, and he is able to move the puck quickly.
He is the perfect third pairing blue liner, and like we saw in pre-season, it will be a very tight competition for playing time between him, Mark Barberio, and Greg Pateryn if everyone remains healthy.
6. The Top Line is starting to gain some chemistry
They clearly didn’t score, but the line of Alex Galchenyuk, Alexander Radulov, and Max Pacioretty is starting to come together. Remember, this is really only the second game these three are all playing together. Before Galchenyuk’s injury, and during, they had only played in duos.
If this line gets scoring, it will open up opportunities for everyone else on the team. There’s a reason that Phillip Danault and Paul Byron have double digits in goals: it’s because if the Habs top line is performing, teams need to focus on them.
7. Sven Andrighetto is playing himself into a roster spot
For the first part of the season, as players have come up from the St. John’s IceCaps, none have been remarkably good. Players have stepped up, but it has mostly been players who had already been in the NHL. The call ups haven’t been particularly bad but other than Mark Barberio, they haven’t done much to force the organization’s hand.
But in his latest recall, Andrighetto has done that.
He seems to have solidified himself on a line with Tomas Plekanec and Artturi Lehkonen which may be close to the perfect mix of offensive skill and defensive responsibility.
A lot of talk about Andrighetto is his skill, and point totals but he has shown in the last two games that he is also very good in his own zone, and that makes him perfect for this role.
He now requires waivers if the Habs want to send him down, but I’m not so sure they will - even when everyone gets healthy. Especially if he continues to play will in this role.
8. Daniel Carr is in limbo
With Michael McCarron sent down, Daniel Carr is now the only extra forward on the Canadiens roster. He is also one of the most threatened. Carr, unlike guys like Brian Flynn, Andrighetto, and Barberio, does not require waivers to go back down to the AHL.
He has not been as good as he was last year, and it seems that Andrighetto has now passed him on the depth chart. I still think that Jacob de la Rose will go down first, but at this point the writing seems to be on the wall. When this team gets healthy, and the music stops, Carr may be the one on the move.
9. Andrew Shaw needs to harness his energy
Andrew Shaw has done a lot of silly things as a member of the Canadiens, but he has proven that he can be a solid and positive contributor as well. What he needs to do is take his energy and emotion and make it into a positive contribution.
To continue the Happy Gilmore comparison: less outbursts, better putting.
This team is much better when he is in the lineup then when he is in the penalty box or kicked out of a game. He needs to realize that. I thought he was good yesterday.
Michel Therrien may have had his back publicly after Saturday’s game but I wouldn’t be surprised if they talked to him behind the scenes.
10. The Penalty Kill was pretty good
The Canadiens gave the Red Wings four power play opportunities, but Detroit only had two shots with the man advantage.
That is a positive sign for the Habs going forward. And now, there weren’t a lot of opportunities at any point of the game, but I think the way the Habs have been killing penalties, any positives are good.
Eleven players had over a minute of shorthanded ice time yesterday, including de la Rose. It is a group effort for the Habs, and yesterday it worked out.