There are 1-0 hockey games and there are 1-0 hockey games. Some are crashing bores, like the snoozer played against Edmonton at the Bell Centre a couple of Sunday’s ago. And then there are 1-0 games like the game played against the Columbus Blue Jackets Tuesday night. This game was edge-of-your-seat stuff.
The Canadiens were up against a team that is well up on the list of favourites to win the 2017 Stanley Cup. The Blue Jackets were rested while the Canadiens were on the second of back-to-back games and their third game in four nights. Through all that this one was tooth and nail. And the Canadiens come away from it with their third win in a row, just when it looked like their season was on it’s way down the drain.
IN THE NETS –
Carey Price got his first shutout since November 12th. We’ve seen him put in more spectacular performances, but he didn’t need to stand on his head because the defense in front of him was as sound as we’ve seen it in the last three months. Price stopped 26 shots. His best saves were among the five he made in the overtime. The last two weeks we’ve been sort of holding our breath, hoping that what we’ve been seeing is the Price comeback. By the calm way he handled this game right from the point where Hartnell slewfooted him in the first period in an attempt to throw him off, tells us he’s back. His last four starts Price has a 1.73GAA and .945 save%. Good news in Montreal.
Not to bring the celebration down, but the Canadiens still can’t score goals. Looking at my game notes I saw three glittering scoring chances from Max Pacioretty, one of them a disallowed goal. Alexander Radulov had two great opportunities on tip in and Alex Galchenyuk, who scored the game winner, had another and fanned with the net open. From the other nine forwards there was little of note. Defense won this game. Without offense it’s still going to be a slog through the final eighteen games.
THE TRADE DEADLINE –
Mid game the Canadiens traded David Desharnais to the Edmonton Oilers. They’ll retain 20 percent of his remaining salary, but the deal allowed the Canadiens to go to the trade deadline with 5.226 million dollars in cap space. Could there be a major trade coming. Bergevin has pulled rabbits out of the had before.
The Canadiens threw Jordie Benn right into the fire without so much as a minute of practice time with his new team. It’s only his firfst game but I liked what I saw. He kept his game simple, let defense partner Nathan Beaulieu do the puck moving for the most part, didn’t make any mistakes and was rewarded with over 15 minutes of ice time during which he registered three hits and blocked five shots. Hard to criticize that.
ALSO WORTH MENTIONING –
….Complain as we will about the offense, there was a lot to like about the way the Canadiens won their battles all night long. The fourth line with McCarron/Mitchell/Flynn will never generate a lot of ink but they had a very strong night.
….Andrew Shaw continues to play his best hockey since joining the Canadiens. Most noticeable was his net presence and his forechecking. A referee’s quick whistle took a goal away from him in the first period.
….If anything, Alexei Emelin has stepped up his net presence since he was moved from the top pairing and his new partner is turning into a hit machine as well. Together they had seven of the Canadiens 28 hits. Mike McCarron and Paul Byron had five apiece.
There will be no Canadiens practice on Wednesday. The anticipated trade deadline will be 3.00 Wednesday afternoon. We can only guess what Marc Bergevin is going to do. Already in the days leading up to the deadline he has replaced Michel Therrien with Claude Julien, traded defenseman Greg Pateryn to Dallas for Jordie Benn and moved David Desharnais’ contract to Edmonton for another defensemen.
Is Bergevin going to drop the big one now that he has 5.22 million cap space?