Call of the Wilde: Galchenyuk's role. Fair or not fair?
Edmonton Oilers' Jordan Eberle moves in on Montreal Canadiens goaltender Al Montoya during third period NHL hockey action in Montreal, Sunday, February 5, 2017. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Graham Hughes
- What a play by Markov on the 3 on 1, midway through the second period. Weber lost his edge and wiped out and that left Markov defending a 3 on 1. He stayed active and got his stick on the pass that would certainly have been a goal. It was such a smart move from the veteran. And also for Weber, even though it is embarrassing, it happens.
- Credit goes to Weber and Plekanec who got the toughest assignment in hockey—shutting down McDavid. Weber didn’t do anything spectacular except for his shot. What he did do though is keep making McDavid do the harder play, cut down his lanes. Plekanec had the same sort of strategy. He got in front of McDavid as much as possible and then hoped for the best.
- There was some great work from the penalty killers as well. De La Rose is only in there to improve that aspect of the game, and he got the job done time and time again against some of the Oilers’ very talented forwards.
- If you ignore one night in Columbus, then Al Montoya has been exactly what you're looking for from a backup this season. He stared down the Oilers’ shooters in this one and took them to overtime. In the extra five, McDavid had a breakaway—how about that? Montoya makes the save against the Phenomenon. The shootout was a skills competition. Montoya took a loss after a 65 minute shutout.
- Galchenyuk is simply not a confident player right now. I know fans are unhappy with his ice time and his role but he is simply not making good plays out there. He needs to be eased back into a more central role after his injury. Perhaps he is tentative as he tests the health of his knee. It would be normal for him to hesitate. If you are feeling nervous that your knee may give-out or that the strength isn't there, that can affect everything. He's a top level talent and he will find his way for sure. Right now though, it's a struggle. I am completely okay with easing him into a more central role as he regains his confidence, gets his timing back, and feels as if his knee is going to hold for him. He will be able to tell when he is ready for a bigger role with his play.
- Horse bleep move from Shaw slow-footing McDavid in the first period. This was after the penalty that he was benched for in Philadelphia. I’m not sure what it is going to take from Shaw. The lessons are there and the coach is trying to show him it won't be tolerated. He did something stupid again within two games. The words Friday from Shaw were impressive. The tone seemed genuine, but he has to back it up with better action than this.
- The Habs had a good night offensively scoring five against the Sabres but since then they’ve struggled collectively to generate offence. They had one goal in Philadelphia and two goals against Washington. There were only 11 shots on goal in half a game against the Oilers. The offence has stalled out and if they didn't play disciplined defensively, they wouldn't be in any of their games right now. However, they keep it close with an excellent structure. Eventually, they're going to need this offence to show some life. It doesn't seem bad because the games are close but they're pretty bad offensively overall at the moment.
- The feel like the head coach has had a bounce-back season. The difficulty with time-outs, player usage with a 3rd power play unit down by one, not taking advantage of replay challenges and the usage of Desharnais were major errors of last season that I certainly called out. This season is vastly different. With that said, the hands of Galchenyuk have to be used in the shootout. I realize he is not playing well in the game because perhaps of some knee anxiety but that doesn't translate to the shootout, but he should be used. Apart from that, what the coach really needs is a puck moving defenceman to play with Weber. The transition game needs to be faster. They need to get it up ice faster. That isn't on a head coach. He's designed a system that keeps the Habs in just about every game. However, all you can look at when criticizing is facts: they're in first, they are systemically sound, they are in a lull offensively but still top 10 in the league. Usage-wise the only issue is Galchenyuk and he's not playing well, bench management-wise, the errors of last season are not there anymore. That's my reality.
- McDavid is a glorious talent to watch. It's not just about being one of the fastest skaters in the league, it's that he does so much at that remarkable speed. He shows a lot of talent with the stick while flying. It was terrific entertainment to watch him. Edmonton fans have gone through so much losing for a decade, but that's over now. This player, with some help of course because it's a team sport, can carry the Oilers.
- Also with the Oilers expect their GM to make a couple moves before the trading deadline. I mentioned that Eberle is not loved universally but at the same time they want to shore up their secondary scoring. The Lucic deal as well has already become an albatross. The Oilers have created a fast team and Lucic is left behind on many occasions. He has six more years and they're already souring. I say this a lot in relation to Bergevin, and that is this: He is very smart at not giving contracts he will regret. If you mention Plekanec, well, I will reply with, “What if there were 4 to 6 more years left of Plekanec or Bergevin did a Lucic?” Consider yourself blessed Habs fans. Your GM knows what he is doing. You have to look at the situation on the other side of the fence every now and then too.