– Brendan Gallagher leads the Habs with eight goals on the season. That eight he has scored in 20 games. Last season, Gallagher with his mangled hand looked like he was a shadow of himself and the worry was he was perhaps on the downswing of his career. It was possible. If you can’t shoot at all, how will you score? He had ten goals all season long last year. Well, the hand is fine. Gallagher with the sweet move to leave Antti Raanta looking second best by a large margin.
– The pass on the Gallagher goal was a beauty by Charles Hudon. Twenty more games. That’s what I predict before Hudon gets more comfortable to just do what he can do instead of thinking first. His instincts are still held back by a belief that he can’t try the things he did in the AHL. He can and he will. Twenty more games…. a better Hudon is on the way.
– A lot of credit to Alex Galchenyuk for finding his game when it was looking sour for him. That demotion to the fourth line could have really set the wheels in motion to some sour feelings on both sides but Galchenyuk got to work and got out of the doghouse. His game is strong now. He’s got confidence. He’s moving his feet. His pass to Byron was superbly timed as the Habs put a second on the board. He and Jonathan Drouin simply get each other. It’s a strong match. They see each other. They think the game the same way. When Galchenyuk has his legs moving as he approaches defenders and keeps stickhandling he’s a different and much better player. Galchenyuk’s best moments since the beginning of last year before his injury are right now. The line still needs another winger though. It could be Artturi Lehkonen. He didn’t get many points when they were together but Lehkonen was playing through an injury for a long time said Claude Julien, so we haven’t seen what they can do yet all three at their best. It might just be pretty damn good in the end.
– Recrutes was telling you about that Joe Morrow shot and he unleashed it for the 3-2 goal and was that a vital ten seconds or what? Charlie Lindgren with a breakaway save on the Coyotes best player and likely rookie of the year Clayton Keller, then right back the other way and it’s Hudon with a beautiful feed to the trailer for Morrow’s rifle. It was the Habs first shot in over ten minutes.
– That was a bullet from Shea Weber for the fourth goal but the poor fellow is by himself on the blue line. Weber is a first pairing D who is saddled with Jordie Benn or whoever is his third pairing D playing on the first pair from game-to-game. The popular narrative is that the Habs don’t have enough puck moving D but the real problem is not that they can’t move the puck, it’s that they can’t move. Alzner can’t move. Benn can’t move. It’s just not a fast enough defence in a league getting more and more defined by speed. Hold it. Where was I? Right. Weber is outstanding and could he ever use some help.
A true first pairing partner would make everyone better down the line to help the other pairs to have fewer minutes and easier match ups. It can be done but where are you going to find this player in November? Marc Bergevin didn’t sign Andrei Markov and he must have thought that Markov was a lock because there was no plan B. I wonder over a beer whether Bergevin would tell me who he had pencilled in to play with Weber this season? What did the whiteboard look like in September? Surely not Victor Mete. Not Jordie Benn. David Schlemko has been a second-pairing guy at best his career. I don’t have the answer and neither do the Habs. The club’s biggest hole has gone from filling the center position to left side first-pairing defenceman. Hold it. Where was I again? Oh yeah, Weber is excellent.
– Charlie Lindgren faced two breakaways in the first two minutes of the third period. They were both on Derek Stepan and both times Lindgren came out the winner. Lindgren then made another save on another player who was all alone …. the save on Max Domi before the next whistle. Still before the whistle early third, it was Anthony Duclair alone again. So let’s add that up: 1,2,3,4 saves that were unchecked, unbothered, all alone Coyotes from five feet. Remarkably horrible defence. It should have been 6-4 Coyotes in one three minute span. One minute later on the power play, Stepan finally did score. Well, you know what I always say…. Give a team 46 clean looks and they’re gonna beat you.
– This Habs team isn’t that good I’m afraid. They’re 30th in goals for and 25th in goals against. They’re actually getting good goaltending so you can’t fault that. The Coyotes could have had ten there were so many clean looks. It’s just talent at this point and there doesn’t seem to be enough of it. The Coyotes hadn’t won in 20 games in regulation this season to set a new all-time record as the worst team in NHL history at the quarter mark and the Habs had a terrible time with them. Any game can go any way but when you’re in the Habs situation, this is one of those nights that you simply have to win or you are unfortunately in the same class as your opponent. The Habs are not in the exact same class as the Coyotes but they’re not that far off. They’re not as bad as Arizona, but they are not good. I will refer to this as the night I knew the Habs were not making the playoffs. Every season has a telltale night. This night is this season’s symbolic night. This Habs team is not a playoff team. Sorry to have to tell you that. It’s the simple truth. I said 92 points. This is looking like 75 to me now after allowing the Coyotes their first regulation time win in 21 games to start the season. Ayoye.
– I know the Coyotes aren’t very good but a word must be written to suggest some of this might just be on head coach Rick Tocchet. I’ve watched a lot of games this season, about two per night on average. No one is caught out with 2-on-1’s and 3-on’2s like Arizona. They’re just not disciplined at all. They don’t pay attention to detail. When the defenceman pinches, no one supports up high. Honestly, it’s a mess. Sure the GM John Chyka deserves a ton of raspberries for building this mess, but this debacle of being the first team in NHL history without a regulation time win in their first 20 games doesn’t stop at his doorstep…. a river runs deep. It runs right through to Rick Tocchet too.
– I continue to be shocked how many jokes I see regarding Marc Bergevin not being able to acquire a center in trades. Seriously, at least if fans are going to have a joke, let’s see some truth in it. His top two centers this year are Drouin and Danault and both were acquired by trade. His first center is a third-choice overall who looks pretty comfortable defensively as a center. In fact, to be honest, it’s Drouin’s offence that has impressed me less than his defence in his first days at center. Just because the only person was Grant McCagg to have an inkling this summer what Bergevin was planning, doesn’t mean it didn’t happen. It happened people. He acquired two centers. Ultimately, Ryan Poehling is the second-line center in two years and Danault is the third, but Bergevin acquired two NHL centers.
– Don’t be surprised if four days from now Brendan Gallagher is out with a concussion. That second hit of Gallagher in the third period sequence after his brain was already traumatized is what bad concussions are made of. It was two head shots inside two seconds. He seemed fine but I am not sure if fine is in his near future. That was a scary sequence. Concussion spotters agreed and pulled Gallagher out of the game. It was a smart precautionary move. I didn’t actually see a concussed Gallagher but this is why this is in the NHL now — to take it away from the player and the coach and to put the decision into the hands of a medical professional. Gallagher then took his test and obviously passed it as he returned to the game to conclude it. Gallagher has suffered a concussion before, it you were wondering.
– Not sure what the injury was to Andrew Shaw late but it looked serious. He left in a lot of pain. I think he took the shot on his hand and my guess is it is a hand injury but it was very hard to tell. However, when a player leaves that quickly with that type of urgency, you know he thinks it’s bad. It was surprising to see him back for the very end of the game, but the morning may bring some pain that the adrenaline of the moment didn’t show.