It’s always been a given that the Canadiens are only going to go only as far as Carey Price is capable of carrying them. The Canadiens simply don’t have the upfront talent to survive without him. It was clear last year and re-enforced this season when Price’s game seemed to sag over the last two months.
We know enough never count our chickens but we seem to be seeing Carey’s return to form. He started to show signs against Boston last week. Was the best player on the ice in the loss Saturday against Winnipeg. And it was there for all of us to see in the 3-2 shootout win at Madison Square Garden Tuesday night.
Price stopped 28 of 30 in the game and four out of five to win the shootout. The Canadiens were in real danger of losing first place in the Atlantic Division to the Ottawa Senators. They’ll wake up on a day off Wednesday still where they’ve been all season, thanks almost exclusively to Price.
When he’s at his best, it is often said that Price can make that one save per game of which no other goaltender on the planet is capable. There’s some hyperbole in that but we got one of those special ones with one second remaining in overtime. Three-on-three Jimmy Hayes sent a goalmouth pass to the red-hot J.T. Miller who was looking at a wide open net and got a quick hard shot away. Somehow Price lunged across and dove to get a glove on it. The save was so good that even his opponent Henrik Lundqvist complimented him during the shootout break.
UP FRONT –
The Plekanec line was the Canadiens best and Andrew Shaw, despite another one of his ill-time penalties, was the best forward. He scored the game’s first goal and had one of those nights where he always seemed to be around the puck. Seconds before Price made that brilliant save at the end of overtime, Tomas Plekanec had the game winner on his stick and hit the cross bar. Lehkonen had three shots and was also very much involved although we’re still waiting for him to break out on the scoresheet.
Shea Weber has not been at his beastly-best this month but, like Price he showed signs of a breakout. Weber was in on both goals. His goal was his eleventh on a power play this season and it was another one of his 100 mile and hour specials. When asked about it after the game, Henrik Lundqvist said, “There are a couple of guys in the league that, when they shoot, it’s almnost like have to make two saves because you think you have it and it keeps going.” Weber’s shot was one of those.
ALSO WORTH MENTIONING
….Greg Pateryn was in the lineup for only the third time in the ten games since he returned from his injury. He wasn’t spectacular but then, he never is. But he was steady on the third pairing, certainly more settled than Nikita Nesterov whom he replaced. Pateryn led the Canadiens with five hits and was given just over 15 minutes icetime. And that makes me wonder why Marc Bergevin has publicly put him on the trade block. Is it possible Pateryn requested a trade?
….Alex Galchenyuk is really struggling. His play in his own end and in the neutral zone has been terrible. Claude Julien thinks we have to be patient and considering the fact that he missed 21 games with those knee issues, it might be the best course. However, leaving him in the responsible role he’s being given on the second line at this stage in his comeback might not be the best path.
…..On the other side, one can only hope that Julien isn’t tempted to fiddle with Phillip Danault’s first line status again. Danault was back between Pacioretty and Radulov and, while the line didn’t show up on the scoresheet 5-on-5, it produced eight shots on goal, with Pacioretty and Radulov posting three apiece.
The trade deadline comes in eight days. Between now and then the Canadiens will play four games. Nothing comes easy after the NHL reaches the quarter-pole. The New York Islanders will come into Montreal Thursday riding a 12-4-2 record over the last month. Then it’s Toronto at the Air Canada Centre on Saturday following by back-to back at New Jersey Monday and home to Columbus on Tuesday.
Wednesday March first at 3.00pm EST is the trade deadline. The Canadiens still need some help.