Notes on the Canadiens' 3-2 loss to the Hurricanes.
--Paul Byron not going for the easy bodycheck but rather the puck against Ron Hainsey in the first period, surprising the heck out of him. The Carolina defender had the puck behind his goal line and a second to prepare for an onrushing Canadien. He turned his back to him to protect the puck and brace for the bodycheck, but instead of bruinsing him Paul skirted between him and the back of the net, and attacked the puck.
We've talked before about how Michel Therrien advises his troops not to search for the big hit, the huge bodycheck, that those will happen organically during the game. Instead he wants his players to focus on the puck, on getting it and turning the play from defence to offence. Paul Byron did that on that play.
--Good save by Mike Condon on Justin Faulk in the first, moved to his right to block it easily, à la Carey Price. I've been fretting, with Carey absent, of the increasing number of iffy goals Mike has been allowing, and I should focus on his strong plays and good saves at least as much as I do those softies that squeak through.
--Max Pacioretty racing in on Cam Ward, bowling over Jacob Slavin à la Erik Cole. Good to see Max using his strength on the rush along with his speed.
--What were John Michael Liles and Brett Pesce doing leaving Sven Andrighetto unattended in front of the net? It was off a faceoff too, a couple of seconds after a set play, not as a result of a scrambly free-for-all. The puck was dropped, and both guys failed to cover the front of the net, even as Sven headed there.
There's open, there's wide-open, and then there's what the 'Canes defencemen perpetrated on this play.
--Paul Byron wearing number 41 is appropriate, it fits. When I see number 41, my brain spits out "Brent Gilchrist!", and that's roughly the same type of player as the incumbent #41, an undersized Bottom 6 forward who'll pot timely goals.
Compared to Devante Smith-Pelly, who wears #21 while my brain screams "JarvisCarbonneau!" and experiences cognitive dissonance, I can totally deal with Paul Byron with le quarante-et-un.
--John Bartlett and Jason York showed three instances of Mike Condon being cavalier with his puck handling, the third leading to Eric Staal's disallowed goal. Mike, keep it simple, slide the puck to your open d-man. If you have any doubt, freeze it and let's get set up again. Don't try to get too fancy, you're not Mike Smith out there.
--P.K. Subban cancelling out an onrushing Elias Lindholm with a strong bodycheck along the boards. Nothing fancy, no bee-sting with mustard on it, just a strong safe play that neutered a Carolina rush and got the puck going the other way. Nice job P.K.
--With 43 (Carr) and 42 (Andrighetto) bagging goals so far, it's inevitable that 41 (Byron) will be next.
--Galchenyuk and Andrighetto out for a faceoff in the offensive zone with Max Pacioretty instead of Lars Eller on left wing. Sure enough, Alex gets thrown out of the faceoff circle, and Max is forced to take the draw and loses it. Lars would have come in handy on that one.
--Just as I was thinking I haven't seen Tom Gilbert much tonight, I should focus in on him, he trips Eric Staal and takes a penalty. Seconds into the powerplay, Jeff Skinner scores his second goal and the Hurricanes take the 3-2 lead.
--The reunited Fleischmann-Desharnais-Weise line globetrottering the Hurricanes for a long, long shift, with many nifty passes and plays, and good shots on net, good chances, but not striking oil.
--My sense of the game is that the Canadiens felt the game was theirs, it would come to them in due time, while the Carolina skaters slowly gained confidence as it progressed and started believing they had a chance.