Lehkonen scored his first two goals of the season on October 30th at Ottawa. Two weeks later he suffered a lower body injury (knee?) that kept him out of 16 games and put his conditioning well behind the rest of the league.
It is only in the last couple of weeks that there has been some of the old jump to his game and Sunday he finally got on the same page as his teammates. Lehkonen scored two goals including the game winner and came within a whisker of completing the hattrick late in the third period. Four of Lehkonen’s nine shot attempts were on target and he was named the game’s first star. Tomas Plekanec had a lot to do with Lehkonen’s performance and he ended a long goal drought of his own and finished with two points.
In tough times you take good news wherever you can find it.
If we discount that horrible giveaway by David Schlemko that led to the Ottawa goal, the Canadiens defense had a pretty good day and as a result, Carey Price wasn’t constantly under the fire he’s been subjected to since he returned from whatever it was the caused him to miss ten games in November. Price faced 26 shots, most of them from outside the high percentage scoring areas. Through the first two periods the only ‘Grade-A’ scoring chance was the Hoffman goal. In the end, Price had to deal with a total of four high-grade chances. Petry and Mete were very good. The other four weren’t noticable which is often a good thing when it comes to defensemen.
Jonathan Drouin did a lot of good things in the two weekend games and came away with nothing to show but sore ribs and a fat lip. Drouin had a golden chance with a puck lying in the crease in front of an empty net and he couldn’t get his stick on it. A couple of minutes later he Erik Karlsson high sticked him drawing blood. The Canadiens scored two goals on that power play.
Nikita Scherbak’s path to the NHL has too-often been interrupted by injury. If what we saw from him in the two games this weekend is an indication of the level his game has finally reached, Scherbak is not likely to see any more time in Laval. Julien sensed he was ready when Scherbak was immediately given the opportunity to get regular top-six ice time. He has not wasted the chance. What is of particular note is how quickly he has meshed with Drouin and Alex Galchenyuk. Scherbak led the Canadiens with five shots on goal and assisted on Lehkonen’s game winner.
….The analytics crowd listed the Canadiens with 10 Grade-A scoring chances against the Senators. Six of them came from the Drouin line – Drouin with 1, Galchenyuk 3 and Scherbak-2.
….Six more hits for Nicolas Deslauriers. After that brief stint on the Drouin line, Julien had him back on the fourth line with Byron Froese and Logan Shaw It’s where he can contribute most to the team. Along with the hits, Deslauriers had three shots on goal, two of them good scoring chances.
….Big weekend for Jeff Petry. Three goals, all on the power play. What’s most noticable is the way he is opening up shooting lanes for himself with his lateral movement along the blueline. It’s something that wasn’t very apparent in the past.
….We’re still looking for some consistent offense from Charles Hudon. I am absolutely convinced it’s going to come. Every night he does something on the ice that is remarkable. This weekend was no exception.
Three days off for the Canadiens and then a game Thursday in Philadelphia against the Flyers before they come come to face P.K. and the Predators. That will be followed by four straight on the road including a trip to the U.S. Southwest.