Canadiens vs. Capitals 10 Takeaways: A positive spin
The Habs dropped the first of their Superbowl weekend matinee series in a 3-2 decision to the Capitals
1. Everything’s fine between Shaw and the coach
Andrew Shaw spent the last period vs. Philadelphia glued to the bench after taking a penalty that resulted in the game winning goal for the Flyers on Thursday. The coach on Friday said they had spoken and Shaw learned his lesson. Today Shaw was in the starting lineup, had the third highest even-strength minutes amongst forwards, and despite taking another (soft) late penalty in the third today, he continued to get shifts, including power play time. He was also two for three in the faceoff circle. At one point early in the game, the camera was trained on the bench where Therrien was talking to Shaw, whose nods seemed to indicate he was listening. Everything’s fine - but at this point of the season, Shaw needed a strong message that lack of discipline simply can’t be tolerated anymore. It’s time for a playoff mentality, and history has shown that Andrew Shaw comes in handy for his coaches in the post-season. His experience on Cup-winning teams will be invaluable in that room, too.
2. Radulov and Shaw will get called for anything
There was another unfortunate too-many-men penalty today, but the soft calls against both Radulov for hooking and Shaw for holding were glaring when you consider that the refs chose to ignore a blatant delay-of-game penalty by the Capitals, so blatant that the officials were called out by Michel Therrien post-game. Perhaps the knowledge that Therrien won’t be shy about pointing out failure to call “black and white” penalties might force officials to be equitable in their calls. If you’re going to call everything, then call everything. If you don’t, it makes you look like you’re bad at your job.
3. Alexander Radulov is a gem
Saturday afternoon game, Bell Centre packed to the rafters with families with young fans, and Radulov put on a show again. Complete with chutzpah on the celebrations. He scored the Habs’ first goal, and unfortunately got his second one called off after Holtby decided to meet Pacioretty in front of his net. But the move that Radulov made to get that in the net was sheer beauty. Hesitation, navigation, patience - and no fear. He is one with the puck.
4. Not a bad showing against the hottest team in the league
Thursday night’s game was a disappointment. Today’s game was well-fought and the Canadiens fought hard for 60 minutes. They don’t sit around and respect elite teams. A better effort today was expected and they delivered, although the didn’t find the net over three power plays. They didn’t quit, and their final push with the empty net that included nearly giving up the empty netter but NOT and a final flurry. Yes, they lost. These games happen.
5. What a difference a year makes
I was thinking last night that just before Superbowl weekend last year, this team had no real hope of making the playoffs but won both of their matinee back-to-back games - which they hadn’t done ... ever? Those wins were symbolic in that they weren’t go to lie down and accept their fate, and gave hope to a depressed fanbase. Last night, I thought - this weekend’s games will be fun. Hopefully they can come away with a point or three. But other than some upgrades/additions that Marc Bergevin will likely make before the trade deadline, I’m not going to worry about a team with a very comfortable lead in its division. I’d rather save my worrying for actually worrisome things.
6. Liv Price
That is all.
7. Phillip Danault had better be okay
Danault left the game early in the third period with what we later discovered was an upper-body injury. Danault is a well-documented difference maker on this roster, and assisted on Radulov’s first period goal, if by assisting you mean fighting to keep the puck in the zone and quietly gifting the goal to his open wingman. If he misses any games it will be a shame for that line. Although one could argue it’s easy to play with a couple of wingers like Max Pacioretty and Radulov - if you raise your hand to say that at the beginning of this season you could see Danault comfortably centering the first line against the Washington Capitals ... I won’t believe you.
8. Number 8
Ovechkin kept off the points board, after tying Rocket Richard’s 544 career goal total in Montreal in January. Period.
9. Not too worried
We are living in very interesting times - everyone’s Chinese fortune cookie fortune comes true. There is a lot going on in the world, and being a sports fan provides a welcome distraction to serious events. An escape. You'll note that every takeaway is relatively positive, by choice.
Eh, they lost a matinee game on Superbowl weekend. They still showed up, and it was an exciting game to watch. I’ll take that over anything else on my TV today, and any day of the week. Tomorrow is another day - with another game! Take enjoyment out of the fact that despite losses, this team is first-place in the Atlantic Division.
10. Right back at it.
The Oilers are in town tomorrow, at 1:00 PM EST. A perfect opportunity to start a new winning streak.