The New York Islanders took to the ice Wednesday at the Bell Centre thinking they still had a chance of earning a playoff berth in the Eastern Conference. After 120 minutes of hockey against the Canadiens their post-season hopes are all-but gone.
Considering their dreadful defensive record, it’s not as if the Islander deserved a playoff berth, but the Canadiens are nothing special in that department either.
The difference was, the Canadiens, were for all intents playing without a care in the world. They outscored then 9-4 in two games to inter their season fate.
With little or no talk of a playoff berth, talk around the Islanders will now centre on the future of John Tavares.
Brendan Gallagher energizes those around him. Look what he did for Alex Galchenyuk in this game. His first shift in months on a line with Galchenyuk and Jonathan Drouin, Gallagher deflected a Galchenyuk shot to give the Canadiens a 1-0 lead. Galchenyuk then scored three goals for his second career hattrick and a four point night. For a shooter like Galchenyuk, the distraction Gallagher provides in front of the net is incredibly helpful.
Gallagher may have deserved some credit. But put a lot if on Galchenyuk as well. His first goal was one of those rifle shots from the right faceoff dot. On the second he went to the net to get the puck and, while his third goal was an empty netter, he stripped the puck from John Tavares in the corner and then cut in front to score. We’ve seen a lot more good than bad from Galchenyuk since the beginning of December. Took a while, but some of that promise is now coming forth.
The Minnesota Wild had an opportunity to watch defenseman Mike Reilly for 84 games and decided that the Canadiens offer of a fifth round draft choice was his real value. He’s been in two games with the Canadiens and off what I’ve seen, it seems like the Wild were either not using him correctly or misjudging his ability. Kind of best we cool our jets on making a final judgement however. Yes, he skates well and can move the puck but there was also that giveaway that led to the Islanders second goal. That sort of thing was the knock on his game in Minnesot. Just say this, so far he’s an improvement on Joe Morrow.
….Noah Juulsen finally got his first NHL goal. Great shot too. Another solid effort.
….Victor Mete left the game after the first period with a hand injury. Max Pacioretty didn’t play in the third period for another problem.
….If you looked at his statistical line in the game you would wonder if Jonathan Drouin was in the game. So did I… again. One shot on goal, another that missed., Nothing else. He did win six of nine faceoffs, which is good.
….About a month ago I was thinking Artturi Lehkonen was getting his scoring touch back. False alarm. After scoring three goals and five points in three games he has gone ten games with just one assist. He had a team leading six shots on goal in this game.
The Canadiens ended a seven game road losing streak with the win in Brooklyn. Second game in 24 hours and second of six games in 12 days on the road Saturday night in Boston. The Bruins coming off scoring eight goals against Pittsburgh Thursday. Could be a long night.