Call of the Wilde: Great start, but no finish
Published Thursday, April 20, 2017 10:22PM EDT
Last Updated Friday, April 21, 2017 9:22AM EDT
- There was a point in the season that it felt like there was a question mark that surrounded Brendan Gallagher. His hand was messed up again. He returned and the shot lacked power. The skating seemed to be not enough as he was caught up ice often. Well, I don't know what was going on there but it sure isn't going on anymore. Gallagher is right up there as the best Canadiens player in this series. He scored the second goal Thursday, and had another deflection that went through Lundqvist's pads but still managed to not go in. He was a buzzsaw that the Rangers could not deal with. The Rangers attempt to slow him was in the form of a viscous spear to his ribs from Zuccarello. It's funny because the refs do not give Gallagher many calls. He is not liked by the officials. I say that is funny because the game usually loves competitors. No one competes more. Hockey is a funny game. Once a player has a narrative, it's there forever.
- Arturri Lehkonen was the architect of the opening goal with 20 seconds of magic. He started it all by angling off Staal then he forced the turnover. I know it seems small but Lehkonen angles off defenders as well as I have ever seen. He always plays the right line, not necessarily the shortest line. After that, he completed the shift by schooling Staal twice more then finally a fast wrap around. Lehkonen is already a gem. I wonder what the ceiling is. With his smart shots and compete level, it sure feels high.
- Jordie Benn just quietly going about his business of making the right decision all the time. He is such a smart player. Hasn't made many errors through five games. I say protect him, no question, in the expansion draft. Usually you don't protect 30-year-olds over a Beaulieu who may be approaching his prime. My mind is made up. It's Benn who has to stay. Where Benn has been rock solid is on the penalty kill which was 22nd in the league under Therrien and best in the league under Julien. Benn also arrived at about the same time.
- Andrew Shaw worked out. How many points does he have in the playoffs? If you are worried about it, then you are a casual observer of the game and that's fine. If you know hockey, you know he's in beast mode.
- Steve Ott was another late pick up that added to the line up. Ott laying out the body and being smart defensively. He didn't hurt the club and did many small things well. That's what you want from your fourth line: Some possession time and soak up some minutes.
- Same goes for Torrey Mitchell as the fourth line has been stronger since his arrival on it. This was also in time with the last of Nesterov so it may have been a combination of the two that has improved how the fourth line looked. Nesterov was often out with Beaulieu and the 4th line in the first two games.
- Markov gets better with age. A terrific pass to Pacioretty to free him for a third period breakaway. All night making smart decisions and always so calm. So many so anxious and he just lets it all slow down in front of him. Two minutes left at the end of the third period and he's at the end of his shift and he fights off two Rangers to make a very difficult zone clearance.
- It was a difficult night for Danault. He was good defensively but not enough revolves around him offensively when he plays with Pacioretty and Radulov; the shorthanded cross bar notwithstanding.
- Alex Galchenyuk also didn't have his best game of the series. He has been good these playoffs but this was not his best of the five games. More is needed from Galchenyuk offensively. He's one of the few pure finishers on the Habs and that is what is needed right now. Keep the stride going. You can't glide at this juncture.
- Radulov has had an outstanding series but it just didn't fall for him right in this one either.
- Another dominating performance by the Habs for two periods but you have to have the talent to finish by beating the goalie. It's not enough to be coached well and do all the technical right things. You have to be able to seize possession and grab all of the opportunities, then take care of the final five feet. That's not easy. Winning is the combination of all of those great technical aspects of the game and then finishing it all by scoring. I know you all know this but this was a night when you could really feel all that domination not amount to enough. Not a criticism of the Habs who did everything right, but that final thing is a big thing. In fact, the puck in the net is everything.
- A lot of ScoreVision in the minds of fans regarding the goaltending. Lundqvist is .944. Price is .942. They are both excellent. Fans are just used to Price being 30 points better. Lundqvist is having a terrific series. So is Price. One guy will win. One will lose. It won't mean one did his job and the other didn't. They both have done their jobs.
- The Habs seemed to lose their energy in overtime. They couldn't win puck battles and were second on the puck. It was the first time all series they were clearly the second best team. It was only a matter of time before the Rangers got the result that they deserved in the extra frame. The puck fell nicely to Zibanejad and he roofed it. It was fortunate that it fell to him but at the same time, the puck may just roll your way around the net when you're around the net so much.