Condensed "Canadiens Express" thoughts, thanks to Gary "Our Game" Bettman, on the 4-3 win against the Ducks.
--This is the first game I've ever noticed Cam Fowler. We always talk about him as this mythically great defenceman we wish we had, but he never caught my eye, and I'm not saying this to demean him, it's more of a knock on me as a fan, who watches players for the Canadiens but only notices opponents when they foil us or goon us.
Tonight, I realized that he's much taller/bigger than the picture I had of him in my mind, more robinsonny than cheliosy. Moves well, has a nice stride. Good play by him on the Perry goal, nice shot on net that created a rebound.
--We found one thing Stefan Matteau can do: he can come out of the cycle with the puck down low, curl out towards the corner and bank pass the puck back to his defenceman.
Take that all those of you who say he's a worthless player incapable of anything.
--I cringe whenever I see Mike McCarron fight. Call it the Komisarek effect. I've grown accustomed to having our big physical players get cut down to size, usually by Milan Lucic. I'm afraid someone's going to pop our balloon.
And now it crystallizes for me that having big Mike on the team won't work next year, unless we have two other guys at least who can throw their weight around and drop the gloves, or else he'll be a constant target and have to fight fourty times.
I guess Connor Crisp and Brett Lernout make the team by default next season, straight out of camp.
Unless we sign Milan Lucic as a UFA. And David Backes.
--I'm very happy that Jacob de la Rose is not subject to waivers next season, because he needs at least another season in the AHL, that poor kid just isn't a player of any impact in the NHL.
--I like the Nathan Beaulieu and Greg Pateryn pairing, in theory at least. Two youngsters who can skate, play physical and follow the classic model: the puck mover attacking guy, and the bigger more defensive tougher guy who can support the attack by having a decent shot. Lefty-righty.
Let's keep those guys playing together, build on their history together in the AHL.
--That Paul Byron to Max Pacioretty to Greg Pateryn back to Max to Alex Galchenyuk et le buuuuuuut! goal was a beauty. As it developed, I kept seeing how the attack would abort, the defenceman would check Max, or the puck would skip over a stick, in my mind, four or five times before the puck found mesh. Great stuff.
I was just formulating the thought that Max really won't get to thirty goals this year as the play developed.
--"On n'a pas nécéssairement mentioné le nom de (Mike) Brown souvent ce soir, il a quand même trois mises en échec dans ce match, et il vient d'en rajouter une quatrième, et une cinquième, ben là pas vraiment..., ha ha ha, Simon Després ha ha ha l'attendait..., ha ha ha, et le buuuuut, ha ha ha, c'est 3-2!"
Okay, I'll say this about Jacob de la Rose, he and Lucas Lessio forechecked hard in the Ducks' zone, and he covered up on two occasions for Darren Dietz and Joel Hanley when they pinched in along the boards to keep up the pressure. Maybe developing a hate-on for him will allow me to notice when he does something good.
And nice goal for Mike Brown, good story for him. Sure, he lucked into a puck in the slot, but he deserved that, his forechecking and the threat of a crunching hit from him created that loose puck eventually.
--On that Jacob Silfverberg goal, Max didn't make a strong play with the puck, a defensively responsible play. Some argue that we should leave our zone as a five-player unit, with possession of the puck, but here, on this play, the defensively-safe strong play of getting the puck out of our zone by clearing it off the boards would have made Michel Therrien happy, and not led directly to a goal against.
--Seeing Ryan Kesler and Kevin Bieksa on the Ducks, it brings a bit of clarity to the convulsions the Canucks are going through the last couple of seasons. Two great leaders those two, big tough talented guys who play hard every night, have a nasty side, who compete and will play mean, keep the other team honest. Disregarding their contracts, I'd take those two guys on my team any day.
--Forechecking works. Lucas Lessio and Mike Brown have some speed, maybe not as much as Michaël Bournival and Brian Flynn, but bring the added component of size and strength, which festers in the back of the mind of a harried opposition defenceman. Nice goal for Lucas Lessio, and Mike Brown adds an assist and an argument for obtaining a contract next season.
And a goal which came on a cursed dump-in, to boot. With Jacob de la Rose standing in front of the net. And which endangers our draft status. Cognitive dissonance aplenty.
--Darren Dietz and Joel Hanley having a nice game, supporting the attack by pinching in, after a difficult couple of games.
--Stupid mean Michel Therrien would never give Lars Eller two good wingers like Mike Brown and Lucas Lessio, along with more ozone. David Desharnais gets all the O3...
--Maybe the boys heard Daniel Sedin's sortie about giving 100% effort every game, every shift, that you demand the puck every time, while they were looking in the mirror, and it had an unintended effect.