1. A Good Start
Not to mention that it was Tomas Plekanec who scored, a player the Canadiens desperately need to start producing. His eighth goal of the year was the perfect beginning to this game for the Habs.
2. Habs dominated the play
Montreal controlled the pace through most of the first period, but it wasn’t enough to completely shut down the Senators as Tom Pyatt answered with a goal of his own a few minutes later. The Senators have a knack for scoring fluky goals against the Canadiens. But the fact of the matter is the Habs controlled the flow of the play throughout the game, not letting the lucky Pyatt goal hinder their spirit. Montreal ended with a 57-38 even-strength score-adjusted shot attempt advantage over their divisional rivals.
3. Senators’ defensive talent / Powerplay woes
Erik Karlsson and Mike Hoffman get credit for preventing a few quality scoring chances early in the game. Paul Byron and Phillip Danault both managed breakaways during the Senators’ first powerplay, but Ottawa’s defensive skill came out in full force to prevent shorthanded chances.
Hoffman and Karlsson bail out their powerplay pic.twitter.com/B21rEThYaU— Marc Dumont (@MarcPDumont) March 20, 2017
Seeing as the Habs forced the Senators to defend their own net during their man-advantage, we can chalk it up as a win for the Canadiens during special teams play. Any time you can make Karlsson defend during the power play, you’re playing excellent hockey.
4. How about that Jordie Benn?
Benn continued to prove his worth by scoring his fourth of the season, and second with the Habs in just nine games. He had two goals with the Dallas Stars as well, although it took him 58 games to achieve that level.
The Canadiens struck gold in the trade with Dallas. Benn brings an important stabilizing presence to the third pairing, in what was otherwise a rotating cast of No. 7 defencemen before his arrival.
It’s starting to become apparent why Stars fans were sad to see him go.
5. Speaking of Benn...
He had this to say during his intermission interview when asked about his ice time: “I mean it is what it is to me... I’ll do whatever this team needs.”
Since coming over at the trade deadline, it has become overwhelmingly apparent that Benn fits in quite well with his new teammates, even providing an unexpected offensive boost to the Habs’ line-up.
With the expansion draft looming, it may be wise to start considering Benn for one of the precious protection spots.
And to think the cost to acquire him was just Greg Pateryn and a fourth-round pick. Quite the deal from Marc Bergevin.
6. Tomas Plekanec’s best game in a long time.
Aside from scoring the first goal of the game, Plekanec had a few other high-danger shots and played a solid game overall. Coach Claude Julien is a big fan of Plekanec, having coached him during his first tenure with the Habs.
Just days after coming back to Montreal, Julien had this to say regarding how he planned to utilize Plekanec, “The ultimate goal in all this, and why I put (Plekanec) where I did today, is because I want him to play good hockey.”
Seeing Plekanec, and a few others, get their stride back since the coaching change sure warms the heart.
7. Dion Phaneuf
Did anyone else totally forget that Phaneuf is still in the NHL? Why did the Senators make that trade?
8. Standard Carey Price Appreciation Takeaway
That's not fair. Price is clearly using magic at this point. pic.twitter.com/2PGsq05QhI— Marc Dumont (@MarcPDumont) March 20, 2017
If Price allows that goal the game is tied at 2-2, and it changes the entire complexion of the series. It was definitely a game-changing save.
9. Lord Byron hits 20
Marc Methot took himself out of position to attempt a hit on Brendan Gallagher, leading to Byron sneaking away with the puck and scoring his 20th of the season.
This play was a nice reminder of two hockey facts:
- Hits aren’t very useful if you don’t liberate the puck
- Paul Byron might be the fastest man on earth.
Byron’s 20th goal of the year yet again reminded us of his value to the Habs. He’s earning a touch under $1.2M this season, and the vast majority of his goals come during even-strength play. Yet another fantastic move by Bergevin.
10. Looking Good
The Habs have won six of their last eight games, and have ten left on the year. Carey Price records back-to-back wins as the Canadiens break 90 points and lead the Senators by four points in the Atlantic.