For the Canadiens this was one of those nights. And in those games you have to have your difference maker in the lineup and as we all know only too well, Carey Price is the game changer. The Canadiens should have lost to Toronto by three or four goals. Carey Price broke their hearts. Again.
Playing their fifth game in eight nights, a grind that included road trips to Boston and Brooklyn and one back-to-back set, the Canadiens looked disorganized and distracted.
Everyone that is but Carey Price. Price set the tone a first period power play he gave us two saves that few in the world would make, stopping first Tyler Bozak and then Connor Carrick on the rebound. After that it was showtime. Second period on a breakaway from William Nylander. Carrick again in the third period and those were only the saves that above-and-beyond.
At the end of the night Price had stopped 37 of 38 shots including 17 in the third period. He has won five straight since coming off that flu virus. His goals against average has dropped again to 1.40 while his save percentage is .954.
We didn’t learn very much from most of the line juggling that Michel Therrien put in place in the third period of the Tampa Bay game and carried into this one. I didn’t see that Max Pacioretty made much of a difference with David Desharnais and Andrew Shaw and Paul Byron did little for Plekanec and Lehkonen. However, the move of Alexander Radulov from right to left wing to play with Galchenyuk and Gallagher gave the Canadiens the offense they desperately needed. Radulov fed Galchenyuk perfectly for the Canadiens first goal and it was Galchenyuk-to-Radulov-to-Weber for the game winner. As much as Therrien likes to shift things around, I think this line might stick for a while.
Have noticed that the Canadiens have scored a power play goal in each of the last four games. Assistant coach Kirk Muller is going to get a lot of well deserved credit for improved puck possession with the extra attacker, but Shea Weber should stand beside him. Four power play goals in four games, Weber has two of them. Three of his four goals are on the power play and this one was his third game winner of the season.
It’s hard to argue with the three star selection of Price, Galchenyuk and Weber. It’s hard for a player like Phillip Danault to get credit because his role is mostly defensive. Nobody has asked me to pick three stars in a few decades, but I think I would have found a way to squeeze him in somehow.
Shea Weber took ten shots in the game – 6 of them on goal. Nobody else had more than three. He also led all players with 26.46 ice time. Weber’s defense partner Alexei Emelin blocked 6 shots. Alex Galchenyuk led the Canadiens in hits with four, and that can only be considered as a good sign. Linemate Radulov registered three. Therrien had Andrew Shaw take some faceoffs and he won all five he attempted. And Galchenyuk was 58 percent wnning 7 of 12.
The tenth month has been very very good to the Canadiens, especially when Price is around. The Canadiens end October with a record of 8-0-1. Over the last three seasons the Habs October record is a combined 26-4-2.
And now we see what November has to offer. The team has earned the day off tomorrow and the late 1.00pm practice on Monday. The next game is Wednesday when the Vancouver Canucks come to town. And then the second back-to-back set in a week. At Columbus on Friday and home Philadelphia on Saturday. We can only hope that the hockey gods treat the Canadiens better this November than they did last season.