Canadiens vs. Blackhawks 10 Takeaways: Close but no cigar
Montoya got his bounce-back game, but the team couldn’t follow through.
1. Montoya held his own this time around
Despite a few scary rebounds, and whatever that near-injury moment was, Al Montoya stood tall behind a sleepy Canadiens team, and gave them every chance to win this one. He recorded 32 saves, and kept the Habs in it the whole way through, even when they couldn’t seem to find a way out of their own zone for agonizing minutes at a time.
2. ...but the Habs still felt like they were missing Price.
Yes, it was a back-to-back, but seeing the Habs crush two in a row with Price behind them, and then get zero goals from their forwards against the Blackhawks? That’s not the most encouraging. Sure, any team would be a little more confident with Carey Price backing them up, but the Canadiens need to play with that confidence more often. And despite the game in Columbus, Al Montoya has done a pretty good job proving himself worthy of it, especially after this game.
3. Shawzy’s back, Chicago
Andrew Shaw might have been kept off the scoresheet in his return to the United Center, but he definitely made his presence known. Besides the first period video tribute, he was forcing his ex-teammates to take notice, throwing nine hits and recording a game-high six shots on goal. This wasn’t another rare three-point night, but the Blackhawks finally got a taste of how unpleasant it is to play against a team boasting a player like Shaw and his unique talents.
4. Nice to see we’re already dodging the injury bullet
The Habs are nothing if not willing to tough out a few minor mishaps. Max Pacioretty took a deflected puck to the face and left for the dressing room bleeding, but he returned for the next period only a little worse for wear.
Pacioretty in need of some repairs after a Weber shot deflected straight into his face. pic.twitter.com/ugVdzAk9fu— Marc Dumont (@MarcPDumont) November 14, 2016
Then Al Montoya seemed to tweak his leg on a save and made it to the bench when play finally stopped to get some attention from the trainers. It looks like his issue was just a cramp, as he spent the commercial break getting a brief massage and returned immediately to the net, where he allowed zero goals for the rest of the game.
5. What four lines?
The expectation coming into this one was that we’d see Montreal’s offensive-minded group of forwards wear out Chicago’s thin bottom nine -- but the Habs’ fourth line was nowhere to be found. Any team’s bottom six is bound to have an off night, but the Canadiens have been relying pretty heavily on those fourth-line contributions so far this season.
The Pacioretty-Danault-Shaw line combined for nine shots on goal -- more than the rest of Montreal’s forwards combined. Galchenyuk and Radulov continued to prove that they’ll produce no matter who you put on a line with them (an assist each, and combined for 4 SOG), but it was somewhat of an off game for Paul Byron, who admittedly, has been punching above his weight successfully for the majority of the season, which means, again, we can’t complain much about his performance.
6. Sometimes you have to play two nights in a row
The Habs certainly looked like a team on their second of a back-to-back. They started strong enough, fell asleep somewhere the middle, and then remembered they had a job to do and powered through--much like I did during this game! (Just kidding.) They’ve definitely had worse performances, but you could tell things weren’t totally coming together for much of the game.
7. Weber for Norris!
Shea Weber continues to impress as a member of the Montreal Canadiens. He threw six hits against Chicago (still not as many as Andrew Shaw), and his powerplay goal gives him six of the team’s eleven power play goals this season. He’s been great for the Habs this year, and even better for their PP%.
8. Corey Crawford is actually an elite goalie
Corey Crawford is not better than Carey Price...but he’s pretty darn good. Coming into this game, he had a .935 SV% in all situations, and .972 SV% at 5-on-5. He only made 21 saves against the Habs, but more than a couple of them were the kind that end up on a weekly highlight reel. Crawford seemed especially keen to make some big stops on Andrew Shaw, and he closed out the night with a solid performance, even with his team down a man (or two).
9. On the road again
The Habs have had a nice little winning streak at home to start the season, but they’re now 3-2-1 on the road. It’s still early, and that’s a respectable record right now, but they’ll need to step it up away from the Bell Centre as the season continues. Sure, it’s a back-to-back, sure they traveled, sure Price wasn’t in net, but this is a team that needs to be able to fight past those things on the road if they want to stay at the top of the league.
10. Helpful that Chicago is so bad at scoring on an empty net
Therrien pulled Montoya for most of the late 4-on-4 and the ensuing power play, and the Blackhawks got not one, not two, but three chances at the empty net that luckily went wide. Not that it kept them from winning the game, but a 3-2 score is a better representation of this contest than 4-2.