Call Of The Wilde: Change Is Good
- Max Pacioretty’s goal broke over 120 minutes of drought for the Habs on offense. Pacioretty was criticized so much, but to me this season, he’s been the leader the Habs required. Pacioretty has 29 goals on the season as he tries to get to the elusive 40 mark for the first time. It will be hard because the Habs don’t score much anymore it seems. There are only so many goals to go around. Pacioretty has really learned how to say the right thing after the games when he speaks to the media. He keeps the message calm and positive and he’s been honest and open. He’s impressed me both on and off the ice. It’s what’s on the ice that counts right now and he’s doing his part.
- It was a massive game for Alex Galchenyuk and he helped the offense tremendously in this one. He had one goal and an assist and the relief was obvious after he scored what actually gave the Habs a brief lead. Galchenyuk was with the top line on both occasions – once on the power play and the second as a line change that wasn’t complete. However, despite that success, the head coach didn’t keep them together for the rest of the game which I think is necessary and is only a matter of time considering how hard it is for the Habs to score. The top three need to be together now. Galchenyuk seems to be finding his better self so help it to return completely. You know that you will need him or you will not succeed. Help him to succeed so you can succeed.
- The partnership of Weber and Markov was excellent. Those times when you looked at the Habs struggling in their own zone, it was not that pairing on the ice. That is what you need from your top pair – zone time in the other end of the ice. Too many times this year, Weber has been hemmed in. It shouldn’t be that way. A defenceman who is good enough to play for Canada should not be in trouble regularly for his club team.
- Andrew Shaw with his best game of the year. He was a player possessed. This is the playoff Shaw that Bergevin signed. He wanted it so badly for himself and his mates. He’s had his ups and downs this year, but I expect that if the Habs make the playoffs, no one will be upset with Shaw when it’s done.
- Lehkonen is so strong on his skates and so intelligent about the game. It’s shocking that he is a rookie. The strength he has and the smarts he has reminds me more of a seven year veteran. What a great career he has in front of him. He needs to shoot more though. He has a wicked shot and he needs to use it more. Even if he doesn’t think it’s got a good chance to go in, he needs to shoot because the rebound will be tricky to handle even if the goalie makes the first save because his shot is that heavy.
- Carey Price has been outstanding since the five day break. He may have needed a rest, but for those who didn’t think that Price was going to be the world’s best goalie again and he was finished, you’ve got to know how the mind of a champion works. He didn’t get in a plane to go to practice as a kid; he didn’t win World Junior gold; he didn’t win Olympic gold; he didn’t win World Cup gold; he didn’t win the AHL championship and be the MVP because he is a quitter. He is Carey Price and I did not doubt him, and I will not doubt him.
- Alexei Emelin has been on the top pair of the Montreal Canadiens for much of the season. Now I know that I am just the media, and I know that you are just fans, but collectively, we have been calling for this player to not be on the top pair since December. Seriously, now, let’s be honest, how is Emelin a top pair defenceman? He has dragged down Shea Weber down for so long, many of you don’t think that he is even good anymore. He is. He is very good, but he needs to play with a puck mover. He can’t win the defensive difficulty and then pass it to Emelin for Emelin to pass it back to him. It took four games, but Claude Julien saw the light at some point between Friday afternoon and Saturday night and put Weber with a player that can help him a little bit to log 30 minutes not make it more difficult. Markov and Weber were strong together. The only issue though is that Emelin is still on the ice on the second pair and Petry looked like he was going to have a conniption playing with Emelin. I have a solution and his name is Greg Pateryn who can’t get any respect. He’s at least the player that Emelin is, but this league is about money and the GM dropped over $4 million on Emelin. He doesn’t want that to look stupid so game after game, Emelin struggles like letting Lee of the Islanders go right past him while Pateryn isn’t allowed the smallest of errors. If the GM doesn’t want to compound his difficulties, he’s going to have to have some guts and admit his error before it costs a playoff spot. Pateryn needs to see some ice and Emelin’s role needs to be reduced.
- Just a word about the Leafs Auston Matthews. What a hockey player already! It’s hard to believe how good he is. He has such strength on the puck for his age. I have seen enough of both Laine and Matthews this season to say that they’re both among the best rookies in the game in a long time, but for me, it’s Matthews who I think should win the Calder Trophy. He impacts the game for extended periods of time as a puck carrier and a creator of plays. He also finishes the play. Matthews puts the Leafs in a great spot to be a strong team for years to come.