An optimist could look at the Canadiens 5-4 win over Arizona Thursday night as a “character” win. After all, facing the prospect of a five game losing streak,they came back with two goals in the third period and dominated the overtime before Alex Galchenyuk scored the game winner.
The pessimist might say, the Canadiens were shutout by the worst team in the league Tuesday at Denver and then blew a 2-0 and a 4-3 leads got terrible goaltending and were forced into overtime against the league’s twenty-ninth placed team.
Take your pick. Half full or, half empty.
STILL TROUBLED –
The hockey world is scratching it’s collective head over Carey Price this season. This game may have been the worst of a season of low points. For the eighth time in his last 18 starts Price let in four goals. Two of them were downright awful. He had more than his share of bad bounces in this game, but the ‘puck-luck’ excuse we keep hearing from the dressing room and especially the coach, doesn’t hold up over the long haul. Something is wrong with Price’s game and it’s getting late in the season to be looking for a solution.
Most nights when Price his having problems there’s nobody to bail him out. And when he’s been struggling he has had to look at Max Pacioretty and Alexander Radulov. Same story in this game. Pacioretty drew points on four of the five goals and an extraordinary ten shots on goal. It was the kind of game you want to get from your team captain.
Radulov had a goal and was responsible for the majority of the puck possession the Canadiens generated on the night.
Once again, the six forwards that make up the second and third lines shot blanks for the most part. Any hopes of playoff run or even a playoff berth rest on finding some production outside of the first line.
SECOND BEST –
Mike McCarron and Daniel Carr had to travel from St. John’s to Phoenix after their recall Wednesday morning. With Torrey Mitchell they made up the Canadiens second best forward line. Their forecheck produced the game’s second goal and it was their pattern the entire night. McCarron also won 7 of 11 faceoffs. There have been signs of McCarron’s game coming around during his earlier stint this year, if what we saw in this game, his time as a regular NHLer is almost nigh.
One has to wonder how long the Canadiens can live off that 13-1-1 season-opening streak. This game marked the 41st game since their torrid start ended on November 13th in Chicago. By pulling this one out of the first the Canadiens avoided dropping to .500 in that half season of games. As it stands, the Canadiens are 18-16-7. In the real world of wins and losses, the Canadiens are 18-23 and losing ground in their own division. A win at the beginning of the season counts in the same way as one in April and May. Will those early 27 points be enough to get the Canadiens into the playoffs is the question.
WORTH MENTIONNG –
….Andrew Shaw’s offensive zone penalty started the Canadiens slide in the second period. In the span of 2:21 the Coyotes scored a power play goal followed by a one 4-on-4 and then shorthanded, which turned a 2-0 Canadiens game into a 3-2 Arizona lead. Shaw has been issued only 14 minor penalties this season. The context of when and where he gets the penalties is the issue.
….That said, Shaw bounced back to have a pretty good game especially in the third period.
….Galchenyuk again didn’t produce an awful lot until he got the pass from Pacioretty for the winning goal in the overtime. The Galchenyuk/Lehkonen/Byron line produced three shots on goal in the regulation sixty minutes. The other three the line attempted were blocked. That is not good.
….Over the last month Jeff Petry has had his ups and downs. Part of that may have had something to do with playing with the more-erratic Nathan Beaulieu. Petry was back with Andrei Markov for this game and wound up with two points and a solid night.
….With the two goals, Max Pacioretty now has 27 and is alone in third place among league goalscorers behind Sidney Crosby’s 30 and Jeff Carter’s 29.
LOOKING AHEAD –
The Canadiens return home to face St. Louis on Saturday night at the Bell Centre and then on to Boston for Sunday. Both teams are riding the emotional wave of coaching changes and we know how that usually goes. After the weekend, the Canadiens get their in-season four day vacation. When the Canadiens come off their break it will be 11 days to the March first trade deadline. Bet on some changes coming.