Saturday, 2 February 2013

Game 4: Canadiens 4, Devils 3 (OT)

Another win against much stiffer opposition, as Les Glorieux overcome their traditional nemeses the New Jersey Devils, with bugaboo goaltender Martin Brodeur who should make the Hall of Fame if only based on his performances in Montréal.  While the wins against the Panthers and Capitals came easy, the Canadiens needed overtime to pull out a victory and improve to 3-1 on the season.  The game had a bit of déja-vu to it as the Canadiens held 2-0 and 3-1 leads only to allow the opposition to tie the game late in the third, but unlike last season the good guys didn't lose their resolve and won it in overtime.

A lot of supporters were happy at the start of the season that the fourth line will be staffed with 'energy' players, grinders who will be "difficult to play against", as opposed to the motley crew of last season.  Under the previous administration, we endured a fourth line constituted of odds and ends and miscast defencemen and AHL'ers, and the sum was even less than the underwhelming parts.  This year, we currently have Ryan White centreing Travis Moen and Colby Armstrong, and while they haven't set the Eastern Conference on fire, they are legitimate NHL'ers, and do not embarrass themselves when on the ice.  They are an actual, viable option for Coach Therrien in most situations, as opposed to a last resort when the other lines desperately need a breather.  They can help on the penalty kill, can rough-house if that's what's called for, and on this day even chipped in with the opening goal, by an opportunistic Ryan White who went to the net when his linemates had possession of the puck in the offensive zone.

Another positive development is that the Hamilton Bulldog on the roster is actually contributing, instead of being a plug for a roster hole as too many callups were last season.  Brendan Gallagher scored his first goal of the season on a one-timer wrist shot, on a feed by his rookie compadre Alex Galchenyuk.    The latter showed great speed and finesse, coming in on his off-wing, freezing the goalie with a potential shot before dishing to his linemate.  Later in the game, Brandon Prust got his first goal as a Canadien, a goal again set up by Mr. Galchenyuk on the forecheck.  That the youngsters are producing now, as opposed to forcing us to evaluate their future potential is a big boost to the team.

Carey Price was solid in goal, keeping his teammates in the game until, again, Andrei Markov scored on the powerplay to end the game in overtime.  He is showing a Midas touch early on, on this play once again sneaking up from his defence position to cash in a rebound on the side of the net.  With Andrei in full flight and the powerplay being productive, the Canadiens are a much more dangerous team and can afford to outwait P.K. Subban during these protracted contract negotiations.  

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