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McLean’s Pub Call Of The Wilde: 8
October 30, 2017
By Brian Wilde
– Confidence is everything. Charles Hudon goes 11 games with so many quality chances but can’t convert. He finally does by undressing Erik Karlsson and beating Craig Anderson short side. Right after, with confidence in his mind, he takes the time to go from forehand to backhand and change the angle on the shot to his favour, roofing a second goal. Hudon has beautiful hands. They arrived in Ottawa.
– Another player got rid of his big zero too. Artturi Lehkonen fed a sweet pass to Jonathan Drouin and then remembered that who he passed to is often one play smarter than others and was ready to get it back for an empty net. Lehkonen added another one as the line carried too much speed for the Sens to handle. Byron blew past his check and took it to goal. Lehkonen cleaned up the rebound. Interesting to see how the team is coming together with new lines.
– The big switch of lines that has proven fruitful was realized by seeing Pacioretty and Drouin didn’t have it together. So Pacioretty moves over to his old faithful chemistry lab partner Phillip Danault and it comes together for everyone. Pacioretty, with one more goal, now has four on the season to be tied for the lead the team. Four isn’t a great number but it’s not far off his usual pace of 35 on the season. The real issue for Pacioretty is what to do on the power play. He simply is not comfortable where they have him on the right side where he hasn’t scored for some 40 games. He holds the puck too long and too much. He’s not a playmaker. Put him in the high slot so he can get the garbage rebounds off of quick snap shots. Man, I know I have said this before . . .
– Mike McCarron is getting so close. He has to win puck battles better because this coach and this GM will choose him, if he can at least keep some pressure on by winning puck battles. They don’t even need goals from him because they really want his physical presence. He levelled Dion Phaneuf late first period as if the Senators defender was a doll. McCarron is not good at one on one battles yet and he should be better. It’s not about strength only or he would be the best at it. It’s about positioning and balance and McCarron is still physically growing, so all he has to do is lose those Bambi legs and he will be an NHLer.
– Alex Galchenyuk has been so close to being traded and the Habs have held off because of the quality of the offer. They better hold off longer — maybe a lot longer. Galchenyuk with four goals on the season despite low minutes and fourth line duty with Mitchell and McCarron. It’s the kind of purgatory that could keep a good man down but instead Galchenyuk is rising to the challenge and finding a way to make a difference. He has three goals in his last four games.
– Brendan Gallagher said his bionic hand was better this season and so far he wasn’t kidding. Gallagher with a tremendous move to keep it on the deke until he outlasted Anderson. That was a key goal as the Habs got six in two periods and eight for the game. That was the total for the first six wasn’t it?
– In the head to head battle of defencemen: Weber was +4, Karlsson was -6. Your best have to be their best, and when they are you win more often than not.
– Second period and it’s Karl Alzner in his own crease trying to stop the power play pass and he puts it into his own net while he’s on all fours. It’s just not the right play there basically being on the goal line. Let the goalie goal. It’s a moment where you want to do too much and you end up making the big error.
– Brandon Davidson with the big giveaway early first that led to a Senators goal on the giveaway straight to Pyatt.
– Look at the save percentage of the Montreal Canadiens organization at the moment heading into the Monday night tilt. The Habs organizational strength is in net. They have Price, of course, who is one of the world’s best. They have a capable back up. They have one who everyone thinks is a future NHLer. They have a former world junior goalie. They have the CHL goalie of the year. Let’s see how they are doing.
That’s incredible. That would have gotten 1000 to 1 odds in Las Vegas. I’m not kidding. Five strong goalies under .900? Long odds.
– I expect the goaltending to turn around. I do not expect the defence to turn around without some help from Marc Bergevin. He needs to spend this $9 million or he is going to lose this season. When I recently asked a scout what is wrong with the Habs, he answered that the team had four defencemen who were either 5s or 6s. That means they are 5 or 6 on the blue line depth chart. He explained when you give all of these Habs defencemen the additional minutes, their game goes down a level. They can’t handle the better players they have to face as well with more difficult match-ups when moved up the depth chart. I responded that they have Schlemko coming and he answered that Schlemko was just another 5-6 with the same issues and that he isn’t a 3-4 either. The problem is Weber needs a partner who can play Weber minutes. This opens up the possibility of that first pair logging 25 to 30 minutes, taking the pressure off everyone else to play inside their comfort zone. This defensive problem won’t end without help. They’re not suddenly going to be a team who gives up one goal per game. The goalies won’t be able to handle this shot quality. There’s just too much frantic hockey around them. I don’t think it takes much to turn this around. One great player will take the pressure off of five other defenders. Oliver Ekman-Larsson is your answer. The Coyotes are already without a win in 12. It’s going to cost the next Habs first rounder but if the Habs want there to be a worth to this season, then give up that first and McCarron, and a second too. Just save the season. Maybe Erik Karlsson is available – he was a minus 6! I jest. I also see a ton of mentions on my Twitter time line with suggestions to acquire another defender who is in the 3-4-5 category. That isn’t going to change anything. The balance changes drastically for the better with a 1-2 acquisition only. This D can’t do it. I’ve made my call and yes I know I have made my call after a big win. That’s how I roll. They need a one-left side-D or they won’t make the playoffs. I’d mortgage some big future to get him.
But can Bergevin spend on. 1-2 defenceman while he saves $$ to spend on Tavares?