Take any statistic from the Montreal Canadiens power play over the last few seasons, and it’s hard to put them in a positive light. It was hard to watch and often cost them games that they dominated five on five.
The Canadiens are showing early in the 2020-21 season, however, that this is a different team. Last year, when the game was tied or within one, Montreal had a total of 21 goals at 5 on 4. On Thursday they had two — both in the first period — and are already up to seven through the first seven games of the season.
Montreal knew they didn’t play their best first period of the season. They knew that on five-on-five they left a lot to be desired, but at the end of 20 minutes, they still went into the locker room with a 2-0 lead. On the other side of things, Calgary knew it too.
The ability to have a power play that allows you to score when you have opportunities when you’re not at your best gives you an incredible boost. It keeps you in games that you have no business being in, and on the flip side, not scoring on those opportunities can do the reverse.
What was impressive on the two power play goals Montreal scored was the difference in them. The first goal scored by Brendan Gallagher was due to a great, smart pass by Corey Perry. Perry’s puck skills are still very good and that’s the kind of creativity that has been lacking in previous years.
The second goal looked familiar in the box score, but it was the new alignment that made it happen. Weber moved closer to the net and into the left circle which makes his shot even more dangerous. He got a lucky bounce, but the result was the same: It gave them a cushion.
So often games are about when you score goals as opposed to how many you score. Thursday’s 4-2 win was a perfect example. Everyone watching knows it wasn’t that close, because Calgary’s two goals came when the game was all but over. Gallagher’s goal was important as the first goal of the game, Weber’s perhaps even more so as that opened up a two-goal lead.
The Canadiens are showing a lot that they haven’t shown in previous years. Being able to take leads when you’re not at your best because of special teams is yet another thing they weren’t able to do and it helped earn them two more points.