Canadiens vs. Blues 5 Takeaways: Easy as A-B-C
It was a game the Canadiens didn’t deserve to win, but they almost did. But didn’t.
In the second period, the Montreal Canadiens allowed two goals in seven seconds. It was the 10th time this season that this happened and it was like a bad case of déjà-vu. Considering the Habs went down 3-1, you could be forgiven if you thought the game was over, but to their credit, they didn’t lay down and it goes to show that this is a different team mentally than it was even a few weeks ago.
This team didn’t have their best game but they still almost pulled out a point against a very good team. Even with a loss, that’s a positive sign. They need to be better, and they probably know that more than anyone else, but you’re not going to have your best game every night, but having the ability to push through it anyways is a good thing. But if they could stop allowing goals on back to back shifts, that would be great too.
I already mentioned that the Canadiens didn't play their best game but they still didn't get a great bounce in the third period when Brayden Schenn completed his hat trick with the game-winning goal. The puck bounced off of David Schlemko and found its way past Price.
Brayden Schenn gets his hat trick goal, with a major assist to David Schlemko who directs the puck past Price pic.twitter.com/ljzcvJOE8I— Scott Matla (@scottmatla) December 6, 2017
It was the type of goal that happened a lot in the beginning of the season and ultimately proved to be the difference. The fact is that the team didn't put themselves in a position to get those bounces themselves. Well, except for...
Shea Weber's first goal was one of the craziest goals I've ever seen. I doubt he actually meant to do it but if goalies have to account for the hardest shot in the league and for a shot that curves around you and into the net, well, that's pretty impossible.
Shea Weber curves the puck into the net, Habs now within a goal pic.twitter.com/hhOJDiWtOm— Scott Matla (@scottmatla) December 6, 2017
If Weber can eventually combine the curved shot and the hard shot he used for his second goal, that would be the Mariano Rivera cut fastball-type of game changer.
4. Andrew Shaw, centre?
Now, there's obviously a lot more to playing centre than winning face offs but it might be worth taking a look at him in that spot once the team is healthy.
He won 75% of draws on Tuesday, including two that led directly to both of Weber's goals. He's just under 55% for the season.
He played centre in the series against the New York Rangers last year and when Jonathan Drouin and Artturi Lehkonen come back, someone will have to go to the fourth line.
You could conceivably have Drouin back with Paul Byron and Alex Galchenyuk, keep the line of Charles Hudon, Tomas Plekanec and Brendan Gallagher together and then put Lehkonen with Max Pacioretty and Phillip Danault. That leaves Shaw with Daniel Carr and whichever other forward you want there, likely Jacob de la Rose or Byron Froese who could both also take faceoffs.
With both Drouin and Lehkonen approaching a return, someone in Montreal's top nine will have to go to the fourth line...
5. It was a tough night for the Galchenyuk-de la Rose-Byron line
Jacob de la Rose has had an up and down stint on the line with Paul Byron and Alex Galchenyuk. He has put up points while Jonathan Drouin has been hurt and hasn’t looked too out of place.
That line had a tough time controlling shot attempts against the Blues, but in fairness, they didn’t get one offensive zone faceoff. That duty went mostly to the fourth line of Carr, Froese and Nicolas Deslauriers.
You would normally like that line to play better against guys like Sammy Blais, Scotty Upshall, Dmitrij Jaskin, Kyle Brodziak, Patrik Berglund and Magnus Paajarvi even with the unfavourable starting positions.
Paul Byron, as an example, was on the ice for one shot attempt for and six against against the trio of Blais, Paajarvi and Berglund. Galchenyuk and de la Rose had similar numbers. That’s not going to cut it. It was a tough night all around for the Habs forwards but this line in particular needs to play better when against weaker opposition.