Canadiens vs. Flames Ten Takeaways: Stomping on embers

Carey Price and the Habs powerplay looked great against the struggling Flames.

1. This is the Andrew Shaw we like to see!

It was his sixth game back since returning from injury on the January 14, and Shaw notched a goal, an assist, and two shots on goal in just 13 minutes of ice time. This is a far cry from his five previous games, averaging just over 1.5 shots per game and registering zero points. (Although he did come under scrutiny from DoPS and record 22 penalty minutes vs. the Rangers.) This version of Andrew Shaw--the offensively productive, fun-to-watch version--is definitely what we would rather be seeing.

2. Good thing the Habs have gotten used to playing without Galchenyuk

After struggling at first to adapt during his longer absence (18 games over December and January), the team got something of a rhythm going, considering how hard Galchenyuk is to replace. He was only back five games before re-injuring that same knee, so it’s at least good to see that the boys are still capable of filling in the gaps. Still, it’s always better to have Alex Galchenyuk than to not have him. Therrien has said the knee is only “re-aggravated”, and the team doesn’t expect their #1 centre to miss much time.

After a rough start, it was almost starting to look like Calgary was well on their way to a playoff spot, but the Flames aren’t inspiring much hope in that department lately, dropping to .500 on the season after this loss. While they must be tired after trying to keep with the Leafs last night, they’re also just 3-6-1 over their last ten. So I don’t know if the “tired” excuse is going to work anymore, but we’ll check in after the all-star break. They play the Habs again on March 9th. That’s plenty of time to rest up.

4. Rumours of Price’s demise have probably been exaggerated

Not only does he look to be trending back upwards, but going up against the Flames really puts your own goalie concerns in perspective. Carey Price may have been going through a bit of a rough patch, but it’s a safe bet he’ll pull through, and we’ve definitely been seeing flashes of greatness lately. Plus, we have a solid backup in Al Montoya. Calgary? They have two goalies who are pretty clearly past their respective primes, and neither has been able to establish himself as a clear number one. Chad Johnson allowed four goals on twenty shots. Carey Price had one sneak by him out of 31. I’ll take that.

5. You might not like Matthew Tkachuk drawing penalties...

But you’ve got to admit, the kid is an artist. The Flames couldn’t capitalize, of course, not even on the 5-on-3, but it wasn’t for lack of effort on the rookie’s part. Jeff Petry’s stick drove Tkachuk’s own stick into his face, drawing blood, and the officials awarded Calgary a power play even though it was pretty obvious Petry’s stick did not actually make contact with Tkachuk’s face. The Flames’ power play was one for five on the night, and they’re still in the top half of the league with a 20.6% success rate. So with a player like Tkachuk who somehow draws almost as many penalties as he takes, and drives other teams crazy, Calgary could be much worse off. They did give up a shorthanded goal to the Habs this time around, but they were focused on stopping Paul Byron instead of Tomas Plekanec, so we won’t hold it against them.

6. Andrighetto is still earning his keep

Since getting called up again at the beginning of January, Sven Andrighetto has been reminding us why he stuck as long as he did last season. Although he’s only put up five points this month, he’s done a great job filling in for injured Habs, especially with the work he’s doing in his own zone. Now that Andrighetto requires waivers, I’d expect to see the organization keep him up. It would be nice to see him stick on a line with Tomas Plekanec, getting in some solid defensive minutes, even once all the missing forwards are back to full health. Regardless of where he’s used, it’s encouraging to see Andrighetto hit his stride after several call ups and re-assignments to the AHL.

7. The Habs are getting looks on the power play

Too bad they’re spending more time on the penalty kill. But Alexander Radulov is making the most of their PP time, even without his buddy Alex Galchenyuk. The Habs are now 20-2-2 when Radulov records a point, and he notched two PPGs against the Flames’ 17th-ranked kill. While watching him play with Galchenyuk is delightful, Radulov really can make it work with anyone on the team.

8. Calgary’s “3M Line” was quiet

After spending the last month finding their way onto everyone’s radar, it seems like the Flames’ hottest line has cooled a little bit. Matthew Tkachuk, Mikael Backlund, and Michael Frolik not only do the lion’s share of the checking work for Calgary’s forwards, but they are also all up at the top of the team leaderboard in scoring and shot metrics. Backlund averaged over a point per game in the month of December, Frolik has 6 goals and 8 assists since just before Christmas, and Tkachuk is top three in rookie scoring since he returned from injury on November 15. Those three have been consistent standouts for the Flames, both individually and as a line, but nobody really showed up for Calgary this outing. The Canadiens did a great job shutting them down.

9. A quiet night if you were expecting fireworks

With known pests Andrew Shaw and Matthew Tkachuk facing off, I know I was expecting a little more of a spark to this matchup. But Shaw stayed focused on the hockey, and Tkachuk was probably just as worn out as the rest of his team, so neither seemed too interested in stirring things up. In a game with no major injuries, though, I definitely can’t complain.

10. So close to the shutout!

A struggling Flames team was blessed with a touch of luck when Sam Bennett’s buzzer-beater spoiled Carey Price’s shutout bid. Shea Weber’s failed clearing attempts notwithstanding, the Habs’ kill was looking decent, which is helpful if they’re going to keep going to the box more often than the man-advantage. Carey Price remained perfect until literally the last second, and while you hate to allow any goals at all, I don’t think the Canadiens are losing too much sleep over a 5-1 victory.

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