I feel sorry for any fans who stopped watching in frustration when the Leafs went up 4-1 in the third period as it was one thrilling comeback.
What a character win for les Habitants. It brought back memories of the 1970s Flying Frenchman who used to flip a switch in the third period after two periods of mediocre hockey and pull away from opponents. The Toronto crowd was stunned, and it was fun to witness.
Speaking of switches, the light switch has come on in Jonathan Drouin’s head. He appears to have figured out that you can backcheck, skate hard without the puck, battle in the corners, go to the net and STILL produce offence. The old saying is that the harder you work, the luckier you get, and Drouin’s goal was a prime example of that. Even though he didnt have the puck and there was no guarantee he’d ever get it, he drove hard to the net, got a pass from Domi, and when he tried to flip the pass to a teammate it bounced off of Morgan Rielly and beat Michael Hutchinson. So far at least, Drouin is doing a lot of little things well. The summer video sessions with Dom Ducharme appear to be paying off. He’s doing an especially good job of covering for his defencemen. It really has been a night and day difference.
Is there a more underrated defenceman in the league right now than Jeff Petry? Finished top 15 in scoring last year while solidifying his game defensively to the point where he was well above average. Yet nowhere to be found in top 25 defenceman lists. One thing Luke Richardson has evidently drilled into Petry’s head is that you don’t have to rifle the puck from the point every time you get it..and invariably miss the net. Get the puck on goal.
Unlike the previous two season, Petry has started the season on fire. He is playing at a level that places him in the league’s elite blueline class. It would be tough to name 15 who are playing better than he is right now. His skating is at the elite level, he is producing like a top-20 defender, he is solid in all aspects defensively, including playing a physical role. He is earning his 25 minutes a game because he is playing at an exceptionally elite level. Here’s hoping that he starts to get the kudos he deserves.
If Weber was a C- on opening night…he was an A- last night. He was excellent in all regards. His skating looked much better, he jumped up into the play regularly, kept the crease clean, and played with that Man Mountain edge that keeps opponents honest; very honest. Weber and Petry playing at the top of their games equals the Habs winning a lot of games.
The going was tougher for Fleury tonight, and that is to be expected. There will be some bumps in the road for the 20-year-old rookie, especially when he is facing a high-octane offence like Toronto’s…that wasn’t the Prince George Cougars or Stockton Heat. There were a few adventurous shifts and some errors. What I like from the coaching staff is that they put Fleury right back out there after a mistake or two that led to a goal against. It is a testament to Julien’s maturity as a coach…Michel Therrien would have stapled Fleury to the bench for the remainder of the game.
Suzuki through two games has yet to find his way – there have been some overhandles of the puck, turnovers, errant passes and misfires – its an adjustment for any rookie to handle the NHL pace. He was justifiably moved down to the fourth line when it became apparent that right now he’s gripping his stick too tightly and overthinking the game.
The positive for him was that Julien still put him out there to kill penalties, and that is what likely will keep him in the lineup unless the struggles continue for several more games. I have no issues with him playing on the fourth line when he’s struggling; as long as he keeps getting PK and PP time he will get his minutes. He and Weal can produce some offence versus other teams fourth lines, certainly moreso than Michael Chaput, Byron Froese and Kenny Agostini did last season.
—————————————- 30 ——————————————-
You can subscribe to Grant’s Slant for the entire season here:
Montreal’s top two lines were appreciably better in Game 2, Danault and Gallagher in particular. The second line started to click after Drouin replaced Lehkonen, and let’s hope that becomes a permanent move. Drouin SHOULD be in the top six as he is a top-six winger when he isn’t hurting you defensively; Lehkonen is not a top-six winger unless you have no other choice….the offence is simply not there.
With three games to start the season on the road, including Saturday night in Toronto…three points seemed like an optimistic total. Habs have a chance to come out with five if they can handle Buffalo. An encouraging start for the Habs, and a sign that they have every intention of contending seriously for a playoff spot, especially if Bergevin is able to land a first-pairing left defenceman at some point before the trade deadline.