– Victor Mete is simply a revelation that you can’t say you’ve seen going back 38 years in the NHL. That’s as far as Grant McCagg went in his research to try to find another player taken in the late rounds who made an impact as a 19 year old in the NHL. You had players like Drew Doughty but he was a high pick. Someone making the league at 19 drafted around 100th? Doesn’t happen. Until this kid. First period and he was simply text book on the 2 on 1 rush. He lays his stick down. He keeps the forward to the outside. Takes the pass away and offers the bad angle shot. Simply perfect. Another moment he goes back and dummies the forward he’s going to take it behind the net. Instead he moves to the corner and with his skating leaves the forward in the dust. He’s incredibly smart. He’s better than most veterans intelligence wise. The odd time you see a strength issue on the cycle but it isn’t anything you don’t see other defenceman have trouble with. Add to that, the Kings are probably the heaviest team in the league or maybe the Ducks who are up next and if Mete were to struggle with physical issues, it’s right here in California. So far so good. The odd moment he’s lost battles but not in any meaningful way. His final totals in a 5-1 loss was an Even night as he was not on the ice for any one of the goals and some 22 minutes of ice. Impressive.
– Alex Galchenyuk took two penalties in the first but let’s not worry about what he can easily change. Instead let’s concentrate on the move to the right wing with Pacioretty and Drouin. Excellent from Galchenyuk as he saw the puck in the first a number of times. He had two quick chances but didn’t convert. Drouin seemed to have some vision with him. He had some low moments but so much better overall from Galchenyuk and the line was better too. Listen, let’s keep this all simple. If you think the Habs are going to find success with him on the fourth line, you’re crazy. They’ve signed him and he’s one of the key players who has any natural offensive abilities. If you leave him to die on the vine, you die with him. You won’t as a team score enough goals this season to make the playoffs, if he has six goals at the end of the year playing on average nine minutes a night.
– Danault with Byron and Shaw was a line that was so good that Shaw looked better than he has all year. Engaged and aggressive, this is the Shaw who is hungry to get to the dirty zones. If he’s worried, he can’t play. He needs to be on the edge and dangerous. Shaw with his best this season.
– Paul Byron with a huge effort in this game. You could just feel his hunger. He dove to strike the first goal in the game. He must have gained 15 feet on his opponent to get a partial breakaway.
– Charles Hudon was good again. Seems he should have broken through by now. I like his courage around the net. He’s not a big man but he doesn’t play timid. He’s getting smacked around quite a bit when he fights for positioning near the crease. He’s creating so well. It will come.
– Joe Morrow may be an answer on the power play second unit. Morrow was good on the entry. He was a first round draft choice and you can see it was that skating speed and ability to carry the puck that carried him to that top selection.
– Al Montoya with a solid start. He was calm and ready. He was still like you usually see Carey Price but not right now.
– Max Pacioretty needs to get more looks. The puck is not finding him. He is not finding the puck. An entire game without Pacioretty getting even a sniff at the goal is common this season. That can’t continue. Pacioretty has had fewer looks than I can ever remember. If he is around the goal and firing, you know there’s no issue. This isn’t that. Pacioretty is not around the goal. He’s not taking shots. He’s not even touching the puck. That’s what I know. Here’s what I don’t know. Why? One take is that he is best off the rush and that is now a problem because the defenceman who could feed him on the rush are gone to other teams. I don’t know. They don’t either and they will need to figure it out. You can’t do this without Pacioretty.
– Drouin and Pacioretty together doesn’t seem to work. They don’t see each other for whatever reason. They don’t hook up. They don’t connect on passes. Pacioretty was with Danault last year and that seemed a better match than this. Drouin has been quite surprisingly good defensively but surprisingly average offensively. He’s got some points on the board but I expected a little more. But my expectations are on me I suppose.
– The game was lost on a terrible pinch from Jordie Benn to allow a 2 on 1. The pinch was such a high risk-low chance attempt that it shocks me that he tried it. The chip off the boards by the Kings was way before he arrived on the scene so it was just Morrow trying to save the day. The Kings took the lead and that’s all she wrote these days for the goalless Habs. Benn shouldn’t have been in. Davidson was playing great. Benn has not been. Simple.
– David Schlemko’s problem with his hand never made sense to him, the organization or anyone paying attention. It was said it was a bruise and they kept thinking that it was going to be soon that he returned to practice. He tried a game in Laval last Friday and played well but the next day there was a problem again. Clearly they hadn’t found something bothering him that kept flaring up. He missed the road trip suddenly and there was no word on his joining his team. Wednesday all of that ended with an important discovery – a bone fragment was loose in his hand. He needed an operation. They didn’t see it in the beginning. It happens. I understand it. You have to have had a mystery ailment that doctors couldn’t find like I had for years to know it is great news when they finally find something and they’re going to have surgery to take care of it. A much worse scenario is constant pain for months, even years, and a knowing that something isn’t right. In that scenario, you can’t play up to your level and no one ever believes that there’s a problem. You keep hearing you’re fine and you go get out there and you know that you couldn’t possibly be fine. For Schlemko now, this is a second lease on life. The operation sets him back only three weeks and when he returns he actually will feel good again. He can be at his best. It’s not uncommon to not find the health problem right away. Don’t place any blame on Habs doctors thinking modern medicine is so advanced that everything is always revealed in a moment. Some problems hide and only in time can they be isolated. Be thankful this player can be at his best in three short weeks. It could have been a season of frustration instead coming in and out of the line up managing pain and playing poorly with reduced mobility. Three weeks. This is a Godsend instead. Problem solved. Carry on.
– The chorus is getting louder to fire Marc Bergevin. Personally, I think this is ridiculous as he has had four seasons of five over 100 points. That puts him eighth in the NHL over that span. He took over a team that had the third worst record in the league. However, fans want results. They want a cup. They recite that the Habs have a horrible record of no cups since 1993. This is also true of 20 other NHL clubs who also gone 24 years without a cup, including all Canadian teams. The Blues joined the NHL in 1967 and they’re still waiting in Missouri. That’s my take. It’s hard. There are no guarantees. He’s made some blunders, of course, as every GM has. However, his blunders aren’t Scott Gomez or Marian Gaborik. They’re fourth line experiments that often flop and you move on with no big loss. When it works you get Paul Byron and you look pretty good. That’s my take. That there is no way that a 103 points GM gets fired. However, others see a roster mistake like Streit and Hemsky and think it is a fireable offence. Which is the truth? Is Bergevin close to being fired? If someone says he is, don’t believe them. Only one person knows and he’s not talking in a true honest way to anyone about it. If you’re not Geoff Molson’s friend then you do not know. Only he makes this decision on the GM along with his close allies. Does Molson watch the game and have a short fuse or does he have a pragmatic attitude that winning is hard and the Habs have been pretty successful the last five years? I have zero clue. I don’t even want to guess. There’s no way you can get inside Molson’s head to know. If you start making predictions, you’re inside your own head projecting your own beliefs. One man’s decision; the rest is noise – a lot of useless noise.
– Three points out of a possible 14 these season. It’s way too early to write even the first line of an obituary but if it is American Thanksgiving and they’re not in the playoff picture the Draft portion of our web site will be getting a lot of new traffic wondering which high pick is coming to Montreal. It’s the year of the defender. The Habs could use one or three.