HOME ICE!! Canadiens-4 Dallas-2 (March 13, 2018)

Mar 14th, 2018 | By | Category: Canadiens, Canadiens Game Story, Latest News

Everything was on Dallas’ side going into Tuesday night’s game at the Bell Centre. While the Canadiens were self-destructing in Columbus Monday night the Stars were presumably sitting in their Montreal hotel rooms resting up for their Tuesday meeting at the Bell Centre.   The Canadiens didn’t arrive back in the city until the wee-small hours Tuesday and 17 hours later they were taking the ice for te third time in four nights against a team that is in a struggle to hang on to a playoff berth in the heated up Western Conference.

It was the Stars that weren’t ready.  To a man, the Canadiens took it to them for the entire 60 minutes en-route to their 4-2 win, which put to bed their latest five game losing streak.

There haven’t been many bright spots in this miserable season. This was one of them.

NIEMI

There were a lot of game highlights. Although he wasn’t named a star, I have to lead with Antti Niemi once again. He stopped 36 of 38 shots. Dallas shelled him for 15 in the first period and another 16 in the third including five during all of that penalty trouble late in the third period that led to Dallas on a 6-on-3 attack. In his last six starts Niemi is 3-3-0 and has stopped 210 of 221 shots for a .950 save% and a 1.78 goals against average. The Canadiens seem to have ordained Canadiens backup to Charlie Lindgren for next season. Based on both the Lindgren and Niemi performances this month, I wonder if there might be some revisionist thinking going on.

THE PROCESS

Marc Bergevin pinned a high percentage of his hopes for the season on the performances of Alex Galchenyuk and Jonathan Drouin. For the first fifty games, the two of them laid the proverbial egg.

It’s only in the last 20 games that Galchenyuk has looked like a 2012 third overall draft pick complete with a 200 foot game. What’s been remarkable is not his goalscoring – he has only four goals in that stretch – but his playmaking which leads one to think it might be time to think of trying him at centre again.

On the other hand Drouin played the season like he had the weight of an entire city on his back. It’s only in the last few games that he seems to have loosened up and started to be himself. He made great plays on the Canadiens second and third goals, especially in setting up Gallagher for what proved to be the game winner. Drouin also won 64% of his 22 faceoffs.  And his line had the task of successfully checking the Seguin/Benn/Radulov line.  Still not convinced he’s a centre but, in this game he looked like one.  .

FIGURING IT OUT

There was a lot of good playmaking in this game, but the goal of the game belonged to Nikita Scherbak who stole the puck from Stephen Johns at centre ice, broke in alone cutting across on Kari Lehkonen to tuck it in. It was the 4th Canadiens goal. Scherbak’s performance has echoed what we’ve seen from Charles Hudon all season. Both are going through the process of converting effort and skill into offensive results. It’s been fun to watch Hudon all season and will be the same as we watch Scherbak next season. I have no doubt things will come together on the scoreboard for both of them.

THIRD STAR

….You can’t minimize the impact that Nicolas Deslauriers had in this game. He didn’t have a shot on goal. I can’t remember him getting even close to a scoring chance. but he did set the tone in a game in which the Canadiens outhit Dallas 48-30.

Deslauriers had 11 of those hits. He also fought an overmatched Jason Dickenson early in the third period. All of this on 9.28 of ice time.

I thought Deslauriers started to coast a bit after he got his two-year contract extension. Seems like he’s back to doing what he does well.

ALSO WORTH MENTIONING

….Teams can have bad games. So can officiating crews. This was one of those games that referees Jean Hebert and Tom Kowal will want to forget. Especially Kowal who spent a large portion of the night at the players benches trying to justify some of his rulings to coaches Claude Julien and Ken Hitchcock. Missed calls and phantom penalties were the order of the night. We’re still trying to figure how Charles Hudon got a roughing penalty while Karl Alzner and Brett Richie were fighting late in the first period. The reason for that fight was Ritchie’s illegal hit on Noah Juulsen that was ignored by Kowal. That power play gave Dallas their second goal. Just one of those nights.

….Artturi Lehkonen scored two goals; his third two-goal game of the season.  Six of eight goals  this season have come in three games.  .

…..Another strong game from Brendan Gallagher.  Nothing new there.  His 26th goal of the season was one of those snipes we would expect from an in-form  Max Pacioretty.  Bad angle snap-shot off a great goal mouth pass from Drouin.  His 7th power play goal of the season.,

….Jacob de la Rose is a lost soul. Early in the second period Galchenyuk set a perfect pass to him in a 1-1 hockey game. De la Rose seemed more startled by it than anything else. Basically Galchenyuk and Hudon on that line are left to their own devices without any meaningful contribution from their centre.

….I’ve stopped spending a lot of time watching the veteran members of the defense. We pretty much know what we’re going to get from Jordie Benn and Karl Alzner. I thought the two kids handled themselves well though. If Brett Lernout is to make his way in the NHL he’s going to have to use his size. He did that in this game. A total of nine hits and only one giveaway. There was a moment with 2 ½ minutes remaining when Noah Juulsen laid down a superb outlet pass to break up a last ditch Dallas attempt to tie the game. He’s going to be a keeper.

….I love the energy he brings to the game but one is left wondering how long Andrew Shaw can keep playing the way he does and retain his faculties.   He took two shots to the head on the same third period shift; first a penalizable shot from Radek Faksa and the second when he went head to head with Greg Pateryn.  Pateryn then laid a couple of punches on Shaw as he lay on the ice on the verge of unconsciousness.  For that referee Kowal gave Hudon an extra roughing penalty.  As for Shaw, he was still out of it as he left the ice.   Nobody’s diagnosing concussion yet, but the signs were there.  And if it is, it will be his third in just over a year.  That is never a good thing.

MOVING ON

We are down to the final twelve games of the season. Six of them at home; six away. Of the 12 games the Canadiens will play Pittsburgh 3 times. Only three of the twelve involve teams that are clearly out of the playoffs. We start with Pittsburgh at the Bell Centre Thursday, then at Toronto on Saturday. After that only three weeks to the end of the season.

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