– There aren’t a lot of us beating this drum but I think the Habs have found at least a 2C. Jonathan Drouin is figuring this out. It’s going mostly unnoticed because the season has gone so poorly but he’s reading the game well, he’s finding his assignment defensively and his points aren’t suffering while attending to his defensive duties as he is the leading point getter on the team. Drouin with a sweet pass to Paul Byron to open the scoring. The 1C or the other center, if you will, needs to be of the bigger variety in a perfect world.
– For all of the heat that Alex Galchenyuk takes for being so bad this season, he’s actually tied for the team lead in goals. Galchenyuk was on the right wing again for his goal in this one. This should be his home now. His one-timer we all know is his greatest strength. Not rocket science, of course, to recognize a man’s strength and then give him the opportunity to use it. I say not rocket science because this is not a new thought by any stretch, yet here we are in year six of his career and he’s just finally getting used consistently in this spot. Let’s see what transpires now but, for me, Galchenyuk on the first line right wing as soon as Drouin gets slightly better defensively as a center. Drouin feeds better to the right than left, so he’ll set up Galchenyuk for some beautiful one-timers. Galchenyuk should also be on the first unit power play so he can drill some Drouin feeds there too. Think how many times Pacioretty got set up by Drouin but his one time slap shot couldn’t get it done. Galchenyuk’s can.
– He can’t win the coach’s favour yet to get more minutes but these are some of the best moments that I’ve seen from Mike McCarron. His work as the first forechecker was better than I have ever seen. He was winning pucks along the walls and he was in better body position to stay in the battle than he’s been before. This is good progress from McCarron. He’s not there yet but he’s definitely going in the right direction.
– Max Pacioretty is scoring a little bit more recently. Thank Phillip Danault. Pacioretty didn’t have anything going on with Drouin. Pacioretty needs to have a strong forechecker as his center. I don’t understand most of why these two Pacioretty and Danault work together to be honest but they just do. Leave it at that. It worked last year. It’s working this year. Danault with two goals and two assists. This might be the best game he’s played in the NHL. Do what works until it doesn’t, and not what doesn’t work until it does (ie: right half wall power play with Pacioretty there does not work, and also Drouin on left side on PP neutralizing Weber one-timer). Pacioretty with Danault and Shaw is the best Pacioretty has looked with two linemates in a long time. Let’s see if they can keep looking as good as they did in this one. It’s very promising.
– Just your usual working his ass off from Brendan Gallagher. Still so useful in the havoc-creating department. That wears on defenders who just want it to be easier than that little shit disturber in the goalie’s grill every night the entire game.
– I see Andrew Shaw’s headaches are gone. He’s simply playing too well for him to be troubled by his health. He’s good on the forecheck. He’s taking care of his own end. He’s following coach’s instructions when Claude Julien told the players on a 2 on 1 drill to hit the goalie’s pads for it to come out the other side for the rebound. He worked it perfectly. Shaw shoots at the pads. Danault picks up the easy garbage. Shaw with a gorgeous pass to Brandon Davidson on the fifth goal. The rebound to Danault. A huge goal for a fragile team.
– The Habs need this Jeff Petry. He actually laid out the body for a big hit even. Mostly though, he was steady. He won some back battles and that has been sorely lacking.
– Drouin back on the left again for the power play that takes Weber’s shot away. Weber 55 feet from goal again by himself on the blueline. I don’t know why they keep going back to this setup. It has produced no goals, few chances. Then again, Pacioretty doesn’t have a power-play goal since February because they have him on the right side. Pacioretty should be in the slot where he can move in and out of soft spots and then fire the loose pucks with his snapshot. I hate sounding like a know-it-all because these are smart hockey minds. They’re not there because they’re simpletons. Stubborn, I guess. I don’t know. I’ll take suggestions.
– Jordie Benn. He just can’t push the play up quickly. Sometimes it’s on his tape and the forwards are streaking and he just can’t make it happen in his head. He will even circle back. Other than that, the defensive aspect is stabilizing. But man Jordie… pass the puck.
– Not sure where Carey Price was going on the third Rangers goal. Just totally out of the goal and not square to the play. A good save wasn’t even required by Price. Just be in the right spot or even close to it. I’m not going to pretend I have a handle on this. But he stops the second one last year in Nash. He gets over in time. Simple.
– On to Tomas Plekanec….I’ll wait. But it’s coming.
– The Rangers used to be Brassard and Stepan as their 1C and 2C. They were a team that won a lot of games and went to the Stanley Cup final. Now they’re Zibanejad and Desharnais as their 1-2 down the middle. Alain Vigneault will be fired soon I imagine. It won’t be fair. It wasn’t Vigneault who took a once good middle and turned it into putty.
Win the middle. Win the game. It doesn’t just apply to Montreal’s woes. You certainly for 25 years haven’t seen a Cup winner weak in the middle. Crosby/Malkin today or Forsberg/Sakic yesterday. Whatever the generation, you need at least one powerhouse down the middle, but four is even better like Carolina’s cup Staal, Brind’Amour, Cullen, Weight. Sorry if I beat this drum ad nauseum, but if your team is built with your best on the wings then you’re not likely winning the big one. Tonight’s sermon is over. Thanks for reading.
PS: Don’t look now Habs fans….but at this moment the Habs are four points out of a playoff spot.