Call Of The Wilde: 6 points out of 6 in 8 days
Published Saturday, March 25, 2017 10:24PM EDT
Last Updated Sunday, March 26, 2017 9:52AM EDT
Andrei Markov seems to be entering the prime of his career at age 38. This is amazing to see. Any diminishment of his physique is cancelled out by the mentally sharp aspect of his game. I’ve been saying it for a while that I have never seen a smarter player on defence. And what a night he had using that old body. The second slap shot into the top corner was the hardest shot I have ever seen from Markov. After he scored twice he set up Byron for what could have been another Habs goal. What a night! He may deserve a two year deal again which would take him to 40. Sounds crazy but not as crazy as when he was 33 and that knee was a constant concern. Amazing story.
Another amazing story is Paul Byron. The intangibles that his speed brings are not on the scoresheet. Second period the Habs scored a power play goal. It was Byron's breakaway speed while shorthanded that drew the penalty.
Pacioretty had more in his game tonight than the two midweek contests. He had a gorgeous pass to set up Markov for his first goal.
Shea Weber and Markov make that number one partnership that a good team needs. You have to have a dominating pair. A pair that face the opposition's best players and in the big games take 30 minutes a night if the score dictates. The Habs have that. The concern is the second pair and in a playoff structure you can get away with two pairs and play the third pair only seldom so it might be a good idea to just put the top four out there mostly. Petry and Benn would be a good compliment. Petry could press forward and be the outlet pass and the pinching D on occasion while Benn would supply the physicality and cover well on the harder defensive set ups. The third pair doesn't need 15 minutes. All of this goodness starts with Weber and Markov.
Alex Galchenyuk looks free. Perhaps I am projecting but he looks free to me to dangle and be offensive. I liked his game on the wing again.
Radulov also had more jump in this one that he had mid-week. He said on Thursday that he had to be better. He put that on himself and responded.
One of the better nights for Jeff Petry recently. He joined the rush and also laid out the body some. He made the easy play.
Habs PK had important work in the third period; Plekanec had another good game against Ottawa; Danault gave a superb second effort; Mitchell smartly got a face off. It's the little things. Oh, and the goalie Price of course. He always matters. The PK of the Habs massively better under Julien with an entirely different attitude - the 4-Go as Julien calls it.
Shaw defensively in the third period was down low with such good work. He just went behind the net, took the man out and cleared it. Shaw has been exactly what the Habs expected as we get to the playoffs. That's no accident. This man equates the coming of spring with the best he has.
There was more sweetness from Lehkonen. This time with his soft hands to create chances. Once in the third he got a high stick and kept on going to create a chance. For the 43rd time in the Call Of The Wilde, wow I love this player.
The Sens pulled their goalie with two minutes left and they couldn't even gain the zone on the Habs. That's the look that you want. Great defensive teams simply shut it down leaving the opposition demoralized.
6 points out of 6 in 8 days. Nah.
I ask myself if Julien at the trading deadline said to Marc "Marc, we aren't tough enough. My teams don't get intimidated. My teams don't get called soft. Get me some guys who clear guys out; who make all of the guys feel big. And get my goalie some help so he isn't fighting his own battles." I ask this because this Habs team now plays tall, angry and doesn't back down. I've watched that soft underbelly for a lot of years. It's quite a change to see a Phaneuf look in the eyes of Weber and say no thanks, or see traffic around the Price and have five Habs go hard on the Sens near the crease then watch who is winning the intimidation battle. It's a new world watching the Habs play very big. It seems to be a changing philosophy from Bergevin to bring in big bodies. I agree with Bergevin's thinking because until there's no fighting and no intimidation in hockey I can't see how anyone can argue that these things don't matter.