The week couldn’t have gotten off to much worse
of a start for the Habs but they finished it off well with a pair of victories.
Things weren’t so good for the Bulldogs who lost both of their games but they
managed to pick up some points along the way. Speaking of points, Montreal
sits atop the NHL in that category but there is still a lot of early negativity;
my Final Thought discusses why that’s not necessarily bad.
1) The ‘new’ top line of
Pacioretty-Desharnais-Gallagher. The line that spent by far the most time
together last year took a bit of time to find their stride but their recent
play, particularly against Boston, suggested they’ve rediscovered their
2) Alexei Emelin, who looked a lot more
confident on the top pairing this past week. He played a fantastic game
against the Bruins which was noteworthy not only because of the build up to the
game given what happened in the handshake line, but also that he was coming off
of injury. It’s hard to have a better response than that.
3) The coaching staff for keeping everyone
fresh. Through six games, all seven blueliners have played in at least
four while the top 13 forwards have seen action in at least three (and even
Michael Bournival has a pair of games in Hamilton). People may complain
now but whenever the injury bug strikes, they’ll be happy when the replacement
isn’t coming in after sitting for weeks at a time.
1) Lars Eller (and to a slightly lesser extent,
Rene Bourque). Eller has the unfortunate distinction of being on the ice
for an even strength opposition goal allowed in every game so far this season;
Bourque hasn’t fared much better as he has been on for an even strength GA in
five of six games. Offensively, I don’t think they’ve been that bad
despite little to show for it but if you’re not producing, you need to be
helping prevent goals. That hasn’t happened so far.
2) First period struggles. The Habs have
yet to lead after 20 minutes this year and have been outscored 9-3 in the
process. The saying goes, ‘don’t mess with a winning strategy’ but this is
one that needs to be fixed in the near future.
3) The team defence who seems to be allowing a
lot more chances in close this season. Carey Price hasn’t been at his best
but his less-than-ideal numbers are in large part attributable to too many good
chances in close. I know the defensive awareness as a whole is weakened
this season but making safer and smarter decisions around the net needs to be
emphasized much more than it has so far.
Goals: Tomas Plekanec (4)
Assists: Emelin/Galchenyuk (4)
Points: Tomas Plekanec (7)
+/-: Max Pacioretty (+7)
PIMS: P.K. Subban (14)
Shots: Max Pacioretty (21)
Hamilton’s second week of the season didn’t go
as well as their first as they lost both of their games in overtime. They
do, however, have four points out of a possible six to start the season.
– Forwards Sahir Gill and Jared Gomes were
released from their PTO contracts. Gill has since rejoined Montreal’s ECHL
affiliate in Wheeling while Gomes signed in the German League.
– There’s a new overtime format in the AHL this
season – three minutes (plus the time between that mark and the next whistle) at
4-on-4 and the rest at 3-on-3. Both of the GWG’s allowed came past the
five minute mark in the 3-on-3 portion of OT.
– Jack Nevins was activated off of Montreal’s
season-opening injury reserve list and was officially assigned to Hamilton.
This means that there are now three players remaining on the injured list –
Connor Crisp, Stefan Fournier, and Dalton Thrower.
– Lines from the most recent game:
Bournival – Andrighetto – Hudon
Sorkin – Hensick – Thomas
Bowman – de la Rose – Tangradi
Carr – Dowell – Dumont
Drewiske – Pateryn
Bennett – Nygren
Finley – Dietz
Toronto 3, Hamilton 2 (OT)
Rockford 2, Hamilton 1 (OT)
|20||Jacob de la Rose||2||0||0||-2||6||0|
Goals: 9 tied with (1)
Assists: Charles Hudon (3)
Points: Charles Hudon (4)
+/-: Dietz/Drewiske (+2)
PIMS: Gabriel Dumont (13)
Shots: Sven Andrighetto (13)
October 24: Hamilton
October 25: San Antonio vs Hamilton
October 26: San Antonio vs Hamilton
Through the first two weeks of the season, the
Habs sit at the top of the league in points with ten. Despite this,
there’s a fair bit of negativity in the fan base. They’re winning but
they’re not doing this or they’re struggling at that; these are common phrases
I’ve seen in the early going. Normally this would seem like a bit of an
overreaction but for me, I think it’s a change in philosophy and expectation
from the fans more than anything.
Instead of being happy with success, we’re
expecting more, to win a certain way or with a higher execution level.
This is a big change and it reflects that the bar has been set higher to start
this season. Instead of vying for a wildcard spot, they’re going after a
high division seed instead. In prior years, the feeling after a victory
was to merely be content with the win in most circumstances. Now,
expectations are higher…and I must say, it’s nice to have that different
mindset. It has been a while since that has been the case.