The way things have been going, you take a win any way you can but, despite a 5-4 decision over the Rangers Saturday night, few left the Bell Centre feeling confident that the Canadiens had started to turn things around from the mess that has featured their season’s first month.
The Canadiens took advantage of an ill-prepared Rangers to take a 3-0 first period lead but then proceeded to blow it through the second and third periods before Phillip Danault bailed them out with his second goal and fourth point of the game.
it was obvious even in the first period that Danault was in a zone. Four of his six shots on goal and two of his points came in the opening period as the Canadiens took their big lead. By the end of the night he had a career high four points including the game winning goal. Even without the offensive heroics, Danault was the Canadiens best player at both ends of the ice. Along with his four points, he registered six shots on goal, won 12 of 15 faceoffs and his line was not on the ice for any of the Rangers four goals.
GOOD COMPANY –
As good as Danault was, his right winger Andrew Shaw and almost his equal. Now-healthy, Shaw is showing the Canadiens the type of forechecking hockey grit that contributed greatly to the Chicago Blackhawks 2015 Stanley Cup. I would like to say it was the entire line but, despite scoring his third goal of the season and another five shots Max Pacioretty seemed to be struggling to handle the puck most of the night. That said, his goal late in the second period restored a two goal lead late in the second period at a time when the Rangers were taking over the game.
Carey Price stopped 22 of 26 shots for a game save-percentage of .846. Price has come under a lot of heat but some of the blame has to be placed on the shoulders of his teammates. The Canadiens are terrible in their own end most nights especially when they have to deal with a hard forecheck.. This was one of those nights. Looking back, it’s hard to place blame on Price for any of the four goals he gave up. What is troubling is the absence of that big game-changing save that earned him the reputation as the world’s best goaltender and that big contract.
OF NOTE -……
….There doesn’t seem to be much offense left in Tomas Plekanec’s game but his linemates seem to be thriving. Brendan Gallagher had six shots on goal. On the other hand, the line was on the ice for three goals against as well.
….Mike McCarron did some things to like in this game. He gave the Canadiens what they needed as a fourth line centre including winning seven of nine faceoffs, On a line with Torrey Mitchell and Alex Galchenyuk he had a couple of shots on goal registered two hits and blocked three shots. And for the second straight game, Galchenyuk showed improvement although he was limited to just under 11 minutes of ice time.
….The defense combination of Jeff Petry and Brandon Davidson seems to be working. Petry led the Canadiens with five hits. The third pairing of Jordie Benn and Karl Alzner, not so much.
MOVING ON –
The Canadiens are now 3-7-1 and back on the road for the next four games starting Monday in Ottawa followed by three games in four nights in Minnesota, Winnipeg and Chicago. If somehow they can come home with a split, they will then will have a six game home stand over two weeks.