1. By George, I think they’ve got it
I can’t lie — when Brandon Davidson turned the puck over and onto the stick of Tom Pyatt, who was waiting all alone in the slot to hammer one past Al Montoya 21 seconds into the first period, I was convinced the game was over.
Just 12 games into the season, where poor starts and untimely goals have become the norm, Montreal has struggled to prove they’ve got the guts to come back from an early deficit.
But as individual players have found their legs and the team (very) slowly continues to build their confidence, the Canadiens have begun to show us they can throw a little offence together to dig themselves out of this rut.
We’re not even halfway out of the dark yet, and they’ve still got a lot to figure out at both ends of the ice, but there’s still more than five months of hockey left to be played, and time enough to turn this ship around.
2. The kids are alright
Habs fans have been waiting with bated breath for scoring — secondary or otherwise — to finally make its appearance, especially that of last year’s rookie success, Artturi Lehkonen, and his 2017-18 successor, Charles Hudon.
With 18 goals in his first NHL campaign, we know that Lehkonen has the scoring chops to make a name for himself as a top six player, and while Hudon dominated the AHL in seasons’ past, he remained scoreless through his first 18 games with the big league.
Finding the back of the net twice apiece, #54 and #62 gave the Montreal faithful a taste of what we hope to be a step in the right direction, and an offensive breakout from two youngsters who have been playing very strong hockey otherwise.
3. The Gallys are back in town
Subject to much scrutiny in the latter half of the 2016-17 season for their lack of finish, Alex Galchenyuk and Brendan Gallagher were eager to elevate their respective games coming into the new year.
And with six points in Gallagher’s last five games, and three in Galchenyuk’s last four, it certainly seems as though things are on the up and up for Gallys both A and B.
Crashing the net, going hard on the forecheck, and playing the relentless brand of hockey he’s made his name on, #11 will certainly do some damage this year if he can keep those hands healthy.
As for #27, it seems the monkey on his back may be checking out of Hotel Habitants, as we begin to see flashes what made Chucky one of the top players in the NHL in the early goings of last season.
Like his team, he has a ways to go yet, but if history has anything to say about it, Alex Galchenyuk may just be about to start setting his season on fire.
(They just need to get him off the fourth line, first.)
4. Montoya shut the door
With Carey Price struggling in net, and the Canadiens’ difficulty finding the back of one, goaltending has been a difference maker in the first 12 outings of the season, and not in ways we’ve come to expect in Montreal.
The Canadiens needed big saves to swing momentum their way. They’ve needed someone to steal a game or two for us as they tried to find our scoring touch, but they just haven’t had all that much of it.
Last night, Al Montoya kept the Ottawa Senators from sneaking back to within striking distance, and came up with a few huge saves through the second and third periods to stop things from getting out of hand. Sure, the Habs scored eight goals, but Saturday night’s 5-4 win against the New York Rangers could have just as easily repeated itself had Montoya not been as sharp as he was.
It’s not a question of whether or not Price will get his game back — it’s a question of when. But until he does, the Canadiens will need all hands on deck if they hope to claw their way within reach of a playoff spot before the end of next month, and if Montoya continues to play as well as he has, he can (hopefully) lift some of the weight of the city of Montreal that rests on #31’s shoulders.
5. The Habs have found a pair
With their first back-to-back wins of the season, the Canadiens kick off a four-game road trip on a very strong note indeed.
Can they continue to build off the momentum that’s been bubbling over the last few games to give the month of November a better showing than its predecessor?
I’ll keep my fingers crossed.
After all, the Habs do have 18 goals in their last four games. That’s gotta count for something, right?