Saturday, 12 November 2016

Game 15: Canadiens 5, Red Wings 0

I got it right tonight, figured out that Bob Cole would be the pause-by-pause rambler on the Sportsnet feed of tonight's game, so I fell back on Plan B, Félix Séguin and Patrick Lalime on TVA Sports.  They're okay, they're not great, but so much better than the Ol' Foghorn, when forced to make a choice.

So a 10th straight home win for the Canadiens, 12 wins in 14 games, and Carey Price hasn't lost in over a year.  We could go over the old themes, about the Canadiens starting fast out of the gate, about Carey being the best goalie/player in the world, about Shea Weber's contribution and adding another powerplay goal with a laserocket.

Instead, let's focus on two calls made by Michel Therrien which prove to be inspired.  First, Paul Byron scored again, for the third time in three games since being moved up to the top line with Alex Galchenyuk and Alex Radulov.  There are many variations of the saying that once is a fluke, two is a coincidence, and three is a trend, which could apply in this case.  I don't want to get carried away, we saw what happened with Dale Weise who eased back down to earth after a hot start on the #1 line last year.  In the meantime though, I want to ride this pony for as long as we can.

Another great coach decision is the use of Phillip Danault between Max Pacioretty and Andrew Shaw.  Both of these guys scored tonight, and maybe they can get back on track.  Phillip also potted a goal, so we're seeing a bit of that third-line magic from last year, if we can call this unit the third line.

Mike Bossy, who works as an analyst on TVA, didn't mince words: "C'est l'incompétence de David Desharnais et Tomas Plekanec au centre de Max Pacioretty qui a donné l'opportunité a Phillip Danault."  He makes the point that the Canadiens Head Coach was forced by circumstances, as a last resort, to try Phillip with Max, and it's hard to disagree.  What this does though is validate Marc Bergevin's acquisition of Phillip Danault, and his belief that having 'too many centres' isn't really a problem, that they can adjust and play on the wing, but it's nice when they're there to be called upon when needed.

So, two flowers for Michel Therrien, and now the pot, as we say en français.  Monsieur Therrien, did you see how Jeff Blashill, the Wings' coach, pulled Jimmy Howard between the second and third period, after he let in five goals on 25 shots?  And how that stanched the bleeding?  I still believe that the Columbus 10-0 debacle could easily have been averted, been a mere loss instead of a crisis, if Carey had been inserted after two periods.

Fleeting thoughts: a bad giveaway by Joel Hanley, when he had good control of the puck, preceded his double minor.  These kinds of faux pas will earn you a ticket back to St. John's.

--The Canadiens only won 44% of their faceoffs, and Alex Galchenyuk struggled right along with everyone, but his clean win on the powerplay lead to the Shea Weber goal which pretty much iced the game at 3-0 as the first period was coming to a close.

--Everyone by now has probably seen the Paul Byron breakaway video on YouTube, which unspools to the sound of "Yakety Sax", and shows him failing to score again and again.  It might be time now to update it, or start a new video of his breakaways since he's been a Canadien, with a new soundtrack, maybe the theme from "Jaws"?

--Max got a lucky-ish goal tonight, that bounced off an opposition defenceman's skate, but then again it happened because he did the right thing, putting a puck in the slot to a teammate.  Let's hope it gets him rolling again.

--David Desharnais, who made a return due to a Brian Flynn injury, after being left off the lineup on Thursday against the Kings, didn't quite convince anyone that he should be bumping the likes of Charles Hudon and Mike McCarron.  He got little ice time, but made no impact at all.  On a break towards the net he got the puck with a clear shot at the net, but he tried to feed the puck back, and the play aborted.  David should change it up, tell himself that he needs to be a little more greedy, put three pucks on net every game.  While he still can.

--Andrew Shaw got some puck luck tonight, let's hope that it gets him back on track.  With Torrey Mitchell and Phillip Danault and Paul Byron all at 5 goals on the season, the spotlight didn't fall on him too much, but he must feel better about himself, getting the first star.

--Daniel Carr got an assist, and he and Sven Andrighetto both stood out at times with their effort and effective play.  They must smell blood in the water, know that there's an opportunity for them to stick if they don't mess it up.

--A Carey Price shutout.  Ho-hum...

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