My thoughts on the Canadiens win against the Panthers tonight, as perceived while watching RDS' "Canadiens Express".
--Saw a couple of solid breakouts by Greg Pateryn. Keep it up kid, nice going.
--I can't tell R.J. Umberger and Scottie Upshall apart in my mind. I don't know what differentiates one from the other. For me, they're identical, big players who prey on smaller Canadiens.
--I also have trouble telling Cam Barker, Cam Fowler and Jared Cowen apart, for the most part, although I'm aware when I expend energy on this is that Cam Fowler is the talented one who's in Anaheim.
--I've also never been strong on my Sutters. I know the older ones are Darryl, Duane, and there's another guy, but I really have no firm grasp on this, I think one of them was a Blue and another was a Blackhawk for a long while, or maybe it was the same Sutter who did both? I do know that Ron and Rich were the twins, and Ron was more talented and had a better career than Rich as predicted at their draft, but that kid brother Brent was the most talented of all.
--As for their numerous offspring, I gave up before I ever got started on those guys. They're Sutters, and that's good enough for me.
--As the first period drew to a close at 0-0, I thought of how the Panthers have been a weak team for most of its existence, with a couple of rebuilds around promising rookies sprinkled with vets that never took off. I sense that the team Dale Tallon is amassing though, with so many mega-talented kids, is going to be a tough out for the next while.
--And I think back to those fumbled games against the Sabres and Coyotes and Oilers, and how a five or six extra points would be a nice cushion to have right now. Seasons have hot streaks and cold spells, we won a few games against powerhouses that we probably shouldn't have, so it evens out, but still, the Sabres...
--On the first Panther goal in the second period, we saw Tom Gilbert, but mostly Jeff Petry, commit the opposite of a 'strong play', when after stopping a scoring chance, he stood poised with the puck right in front of his net, assessing his breakout options, for at most a second. This was all the time it took for Sasha Barkov to pick his pocket and slide the puck past a contorted Dustin Tokarski.
Puck movers are great, I love the fact that our 'brigade défensive' is nifty with the puck, but in this instance, a Josh Gorges or Hal Gill, a Craig Ludwig or Donald Dufresne, a defensive defenceman, would have hacked at the puck and swept it in the corner, where it wasn't an imminent threat, a clear and present danger. This time, a 'strong play' would have prevented that goal.
--Loved the Brandon Prust assist on Jacob de la Rose's shorthanded goal. The RDS boys were saying while voicing over the replays that both players knew where each other was and what the other would do. It is especially true in that Brandon, on the replay that showed him in a closeup, is seen to make a no-look pass, looking at the goalie and freezing him in anticipation of a shot, but passing to Jacob, without looking, like a basketball point guard, or a rugby scrum half. Great job, love to see him get icetime and be rewarded, after a difficult, strenuous outing last night in Tampa.
--Good to see P.K. score on a nice wrist shot, but I'm almost happier that Lars gets an assist on the play, and that he may be digging his way out of his funk. And P.A. Parenteau on the ice, in front of the net, making things happen, you want him to get in gear for the playoffs too.
--In the third, the Canadiens were outclassed 21-4 in the shots department, which was a little hard to tell in the edited broadcast I was watching, but which Pierre Houde and Marc Denis kept reminding us of.
--On L'Antichambre, the panel quickly centered their aim on Devante Smith-Pelly and his lack of production, his meager contribution, and his bad penalty in the offensive zone at the end of the game. They allowed, with Vincent Damphousse being the main spokesperson on this matter, that it's understandable that the coaching staff is giving Devo time to get in sync with his new team, and trying to get him in better game shape for the playoffs. What worries them though is that guys like Brandon Prust and Dale Weise, who get significantly less icetime and were here all along, and who are producing, may sour on this situation.
The point was made that tonight, with Brandon Prust getting off to a good start in this game, and having had his tough outing the previous night, it would have been a great opportunity to move him up in the lineup and give him more leash.
All agreed that Devo's leave may or should be drawing to a close, that the third line would benefit by having a speedy, committed Dale Weise on the right flank instead of the former Duck.
And if we need him to improve his conditioning, let's have him skate a few extra lines at practice, and work a little bit more with Pierre Allard. Points are hard enough to come by these days, it's hard to justify being patient with him much longer if he's not going to start clicking.
--Four points out of six, with another loss to the Lightning that's a little hard to accept, but overall not a bad road trip.