1. Phillip Danault
First off, my prayers and wishes go out to Phillip Danault. The dependable centre was caught at the wrong place at the wrong time, as a Zdeno Chara slapshot hit him on the side of the head near the end of the second period. The tension at the Bell Centre couldn’t be higher, for both the players on the ice and the fans. The puck was clocked at roughly 124 KM/h (or 75 MPH) Fortunately, he seemed to be moving his extremities following the incident, and arrived conscious at the hospital. Before this, Danault assisted on Pacioretty’s goal, and sat fourth in the Canadiens in terms of points.
So far, it seems like good news on his end though, as his father stated that his initial scans came out normal, and remained in the hospital overnight for precautionary reasons:
It may be a big blow to the Canadiens centre depth, but we do not know the extent of his injury, and its best for him to take all the time he needs to recover.
Max Pacioretty and Zdeno Chara seemed extremely concerned for the wellbeing of Danault, with the Bruins captain staying on the ice until he was stretchered off in a very classy act. Pacioretty showed a lot of concern for his linemate, and was the prime example of what a captain does during times like tonight.
Max Pacioretty, like everyone else at the Bell Centre, looks really shook. pic.twitter.com/Lh2Z6cZvqD— Jared Book (@jaredbook) January 14, 2018
2. Line shuffling may happen, but doesn’t need to.
Due to Danault’s injury, Claude Julien had to shuffle some lines, and will probably need to make changes to his centres. Regardless, the line combinations seemed to click tonight, as all four lines were rolling. The combination of Alex Galchenyuk, Jonathan Drouin and Charles Hudon was deadly every time they were in the offensive zone together. Their speed and creativity seemed to mesh well, as they all play a similar style game. The fourth line of Nicolas Deslauriers, Andrew Shaw and de La Rose was great as well, causing headaches in the offensive zone, as well as being great in terms of possession stats, all over 50% Corsi For.
Pacioretty, Danault and Artturi Lehkonen also combined for a goal, and was working great before the injury. The Canadiens may opt to call someone like Michael McCarron up in place of the injured Danault, however, they would be much better off by perhaps switching Galchenyuk at center, and perhaps calling up Nikita Scherbak, who’s been excellent as of late for Laval. Since coming back from injury, he’s only been held pointless twice, and is playing at over a point per game alongside Adam Cracknell and Chris Terry.
3. The kids are alright.
Going to talk about these two briefly, because this is a line I’ve been preaching since the start of the season, and it’s starting to pay dividends now. These two have played a lot together lately, and there’s chemistry growing between the young forwards.
Galchenyuk has quietly become one of the Habs most productive forwards since December, and has 12 points in 16 games since December 2. He also has three power play points in his last four games, including two goals.
Jonathan Drouin has picked up his production since playing on a line with him as well, as he has assisted on both of those power play goals. Tonight, along with Hudon, they played a very speed and skill based game. The combination of Hudon’s ability to buzz around the zone and cause turn overs, with Drouin’s exceptional speed and vision, finished with Galchenyuk’s scoring ability, may result in a deadly combination for the Canadiens.
4. Victor Mete’s back, baby.
The Canadiens rookie defenceman played in his first game since returning from winning gold at the World Junior Championship, and was perhaps the best defenceman all night. He clocked 17:35 tonight as well as nabbing an assist by generating the game’s first goal with a shot from the point. He also had a great sequence in overtime, both leading the rush and being the first guy back on defence.
It seems as if his time in the WJC helped both his confidence and his play, and could be vital as Weber is still out with a foot injury.
5. One down, two to go.
This is only the first time the Habs will face the Bruins in the near future, as they play them twice more next week, on Wednesday and Saturday. With games against the suddenly red hot New York Islanders, and the Metropolitan Division leading Washington Capitals, those games against the Bruins are must wins, even after nabbing a point tonight.
There were positives signs all around tonight against the Bruins, especially in terms of possession stats, where they outmatched Boston in every aspect. Hopefully they’ll be able to carry this into next week’s matchups.