Call of the Wilde: Habs' glass half full in loss to Sens
Published Sunday, October 16, 2016 12:18PM EDT Last Updated Sunday, October 16, 2016 12:49PM EDT
Montreal Canadiens' Artturi Lehkonen (62) celebrates his teammate Jeff Petry's (26) goal during second period NHL hockey action against the Ottawa Senators, in Ottawa on Saturday, October 15, 2016. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Fred Chartrand
- Radulov is a power forward. You probably think of him as a scoring forward, but what we have seen mostly so far is a guy who is so hard to take off the puck. In the corners, it's rare he's going to lose that battle. He's going to do a lot of little things right that will make the coach still like him even when a scoring drought happens. I didn't expect that and I'm impressed with that aspect of his game for certain. Radulov had the best 5-on-5 creation in the first half of the game with a gorgeous feed to Pacioretty who almost converted. If you would have asked me what do you like best about Radulov, I would have never thought my answer would be he works so hard.
- Weber was firing absolute bullets on the power play and killed penalties to boot. He was on for the full duration of a 4-on-3 and for two minutes he showed great courage, blocking shots and making a couple of key clears. In the first period, Weber was on for almost 10 minutes. In the third period period, Markov and Weber were simply excellent again on a 5-on-3 kill. Markov was out there the entire time, Weber for most of it. Both D were outstanding at a key point. Weber had a strong game throughout.
- Lehkonen is often in the right place. He has excellent scoring instincts and did a superb job on the power play that the Habs finally scored on. His screen was perfect, making sure Anderson never saw the Petry shot that got through. Third period, he's doing it again with the goal in tight. He's a smart player. I often find small players are smart players because they wouldn't be in the show if they weren't smart. Lehkonen fits my theory.
- Petry with two goals. Welcome back the Petry that we knew. The second was a rocket.
- Gallagher. Shaw. Lehkonen. Screens are so important against goalies now. Clear shots don't go in much these days. We all know this but it doesn't mean all of the players have the courage to stand in front of Weber and Petry bombs. So credit to those little guys and yes, all little: Shaw is not his listed height in the media guide.
- Al Montoya has a .942 save percentage in his first two games. That's a Carey Price-type number. He's the biggest reason the Habs have three of four points. You can also feel his calmness when he speaks and when he tends the goal. He has that veteran presence. The players are confident they have a guy back there who can get it done. Huge difference to the score line and the psyche of everyone.
- The first goal against. Markov got flat footed. The play started with the Habs in a ready position and Ottawa having 160 feet in front of them. That should never end in a goal two seconds later. Six guys beaten that easily is rather horrendous. No one in their lane. Just too easy.
- Still waiting for Plekanec to bring it.
- I really don't want to make this season a pile on of every little thing that Michel Therrien does. I stated my piece in a factual blog last year but some things must still be pointed out. On the positive side, his line changes to get a listless team going worked out well. They had eight shots in the first half of the game. They had 16 shots in the second half after the line changes. That definitely worked. However, he also did his impatience thing again with a player who was having a good night and favoured a veteran who was having a bad night. Paul Byron was -3. He was not playing well. Lehkonen got the short leash. The Finn can't be a fourth line guy. He's here to succeed offensively. He can do that with the right usage. He's shown it with screens, goals, savviness around the net, good positional play. So, while I liked the line changes, one can't psychologically give up on a solid-playing Lehkonen at the 75 minute mark of his NHL career. In the glass half-full world, well done on the line changes. In the glass half-empty world, same old, same old, subbing out a player with real good upside for a guy who has shown all he's ever going to be, and he is never, ever gonna be a second-line winger on a successful hockey team.
- Galchenyuk can't have a 13 per cent in the faceoff circle. That's an offence crusher. He gets mostly offensive zone faceoffs but all the hard-won ice ends pretty quickly when you lose the draw. Thirteen per cent is so abysmal. That has to get better or Therrien will have him on the wing soon.
- I don't feel like the Habs have played that well at all so far. They've seemed off for a lot of time in both games, but look at the standings. You start in the other team's home opener and another team’s first Saturday night game and you get three points, you're in good shape to play more intense hockey and continue to get good results. Good teams win when they're not that on. So here we are. Let's keep watching here to see if this is all they have, because if it is, then that will catch up to them. However if they can bring more energy, then this will be a positive omen that they can win when they're somewhat flat and win even more when they bring it. Three points out of four on the road. The glass is half full-to-three quarters but they better have more to give.
David Desharnais missed his shootout attempt badly but as Brandon Prust tweeted, anyone who knows hockey knows that kind of thing can happen. Desharnais takes 100 more shots and it won't happen again. He was the right choice. Desharnais is the most successful shootout shooter in Habs history. Therrien did zero wrong there. He used math. Sports is math. Playing the percentages to find success. Desharnais has the absolute best percentage and life happened, as it tends to, all-in-all.