Habs vs. Leafs 10 Takeaways: Carey’d home by Price

With a win over the Leafs, the Habs’ win streak continues. As does Plekanec’s scoring drought.

After a character win against the Lightning on Thursday, the Montreal Canadiens extended their win streak to 7 games, still undefeated in regulation time.

1.       They left the first period to the Leafs (and Carey)

The Canadiens’ first period against the Leafs looked more like what we had been expecting on Thursday night’s matchup versus Tampa. Aside from a few odd chances peppered throughout the frame, the first 20 minutes were all Toronto. The Habs seemed content to dial it in and let the Leafs dictate the pace of the game. Naturally, Carey Price was there to keep the score even at zero, instead of 3-0 in favor of their long-time rivals.

2.       47-27-11 is everything we were hoping for

Ever since Habs fans bore witness to this sinful play back in the preseason, they’ve been waiting with bated breath for the moment when Alex Galchenyuk and Alexander Radulov would be officially reunited. Throw in Brendan Gallagher? I pity the goalie. This line came flying out of the gates, and seldom let up. They pressed and pressed, keeping their feet firmly on the gas pedal, eventually rewarding HNIC spectators with exactly what they wanted to see: Radulov feeding Galchenyuk for a beauty of a goal.

What can we expect from a trio of guys who refuse to lay off the puck? Probably a hell of a lot.

3.     Tomas Plekanec cannot buy or lease a goal

I won’t lie. I may have written this into my skeleton 45 minutes before puck drop. But am I wrong? He’s has been fighting valiantly over the last nine games, but has just had zero finish to his play. Is it all in his head? Is it simply bad puck luck? Maybe a combination of both? It’s hard to tell.

Plekanec battled through a 19-game scoring drought last season, which probably isn’t doing a whole lot to help his confidence in these early games, and you hope to the hockey gods that he won’t go as long this time around. As much as I don’t want to see Gallagher’s new line broken up anytime soon, you can’t help but wonder if a little vitamin G is what #14 has been missing.

4.     Price

I could just leave this as is, but there are some important things to be said, if not reiterated.

Carey Price is in unbelievable form. For a man who missed 85 percent of last year’s season, Price is playing like he’s a save away from a Stanley Cup victory five games into his 2016-17 campaign.

A ridiculous robbery of a glove save in the third period brought me back to the 2015 playoffs, where he made saves like there was an impenetrable shield around his crease by standing on his head, and any other available body part.

The Canadiens are starting to, slowly but surely, slip back into old habits and leave their fate in Carey’s glove, and while the 2014-15 season certainly showed that they can ride the top of the standings with little offence and lots of Carey, we’ve seen how far into the playoffs that will take us; not terribly.

With the offensive talents that have blossomed and joined the team over the last several months, we shouldn’t have too much of a problem scoring goals, but they need to remember they can’t rest on their laurels. (Or their goalie).

5.       Greg Pateryn is doing things

It’s amazing to see the backend corps jump in on the offence, and a large portion of that contribution has come from Jeff Petry and Shea Weber, with dashes of Beaulieu thrown in. And while we saw much of the same in last night’s game, Greg Pateryn was the newest D to lend his contributions to the cause. There was a significant non-power-play moment when the Canadiens managed to keep the Leafs hemmed in their zone, where Pateryn kept hammering away from the point. The guy wanted a goal almost as much as Plekanec.

Outside of his offensive contributions, he was being noticed all over the ice. I found myself surprised time and time again when I’d catch the number 8 on the back of a red jersey following a great play. Pateryn has certainly carved himself a place among the team with his new digit.

6.      Where was Nathan Beaulieu?

I had a difficult time pinpointing Beaulieu, which is not necessarily a bad thing, but he was once again out-flashed by his partner. Beaulieu has been one of my favorite players to watch this season, and it’s a tad odd to think back to this game and not be able to pick out a single one of his plays, where he’s been rather prominent otherwise.

7.       The fourth line is a thing of beauty

They just cannot stop. For myself, Brian Flynn is interchangeable. I’d be a very happy camper with Byron back on the fourth line with Mitchell and Danault, in favor of Carr on the third with Shaw and Desharnais. But that’s personal opinion. Even with Flynn in the lineup over Carr, I still can’t make a single complaint about this line. They are as defensively sound as you would hope any line could be, but these guys are doing so much more than simply acting as a shutdown line. As it stands, they’ve contributed to a quarter of the team’s goals for, and they just keep on coming. They’re the second-most entertaining line to watch, and it seems like something great is happening every time they roll out onto the ice.

8.       The power play continues to click

Considering the man behind the power play, it’s not a surprise that the special teams have starting to click lately, but considering the team deployed and their PP history over the last few seasons, it still takes a while to process. The puck moves intelligently and with purpose; none of the fumbling, “you take it!” “no, you take it!” manoeuvres of 2014 and beyond. There are shooting options beyond Shea Weber’s bomb of a shot, and Jeff Petry continues to remind us just how much he was missed last season with his outstanding play.

9.       So the Leafs, huh?

As a matchup that we all grew up watching, regardless of the team we rooted for, it never quite got any better than the Montreal Canadiens playing the Toronto Maple Leafs on a Saturday night. The classic rivalry has cooled off ever so slightly as of late due to the serious subpar play of the Leafs (and with the rise of other, more interesting division teams like Tampa Bay), but the new-look Leafs are going to provide for some very entertaining hockey going forward.

The Habs were outplayed by Toronto for large segments of the game and were a little lucky to squeeze out with a win. If it were not in my nature to glare at the Leafs on principle, I would say they were rather enjoyable to watch. Chance after chance, with spectacular offensive pressure, they just would not stop coming. If not for Carey Price, it could have been a very lopsided game, indeed. They’re going to (eventually) do great things. But you didn’t hear that from me.

10.   They got lucky

Going into this game, I had a feeling that the Canadiens were going to lose. With the cynicism gained from last season, I generally walk into games we should win with the inkling that we won’t.

And we almost didn’t.

The Canadiens managed to squeak by with a W that probably wasn’t entirely deserved considering their lack of firepower, but it once again boils down to the man between the pipes. Nonetheless, just as we saw in Thursday night’s game against Tampa, they managed to score when it mattered most, putting another CHaracter win in the bank to keep the streak alive.

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