Montreal - October 16, 2013 - The Montreal Canadiens probably should have blown out the Jets in Winnipeg but just could not connect on a third goal that likely would have opened the floodgates, until Daniel Briere hit an empty net with a minute to go. Ultimately they had to work a little harder at protecting a two goal lead which they did rather well with a lot of help from their goaltender who now looks unbeatable. Montreal takes six of a possible eight points on a Western road swing that normally has them spitting out saloon dust by the time they board an Air Canada flight to head home.
Meantime, in Winnipeg, they'll continue to play out the Claude Noel era. Until Jets GM Kevin Cheveldayoff decides his team deserves more than the sleepiest bench in the NHL.
What's Mike Keane doing these days?
- Carey Price. When he plays - or more importantly looks - the way he has the last two games, Price becomes a rare breed - a goaltender who intimidates the opposition. 20th career shutout lowered his GAA to 1.81 and raised his save percentage to .944. Critics point to Price's .875 save percentage while Habs are on the power play.
- P.K. Subban. All over the ice. Takes over team lead in scoring with 8 points in 6 games. Leads all NHL defenseman in scoring. Love the penalty he took early in the game when he knocked 6'5" Blake Wheeler on his ass in what used to be an old fashioned puck battle. It's called interference these days but I don't mind seeing that kind of penalty which sends the message that Subban is capable of easily winning most one on one physical battles. Has finally surpassed Andrei Markov in average ice time per game (24:58 to 24:24). 7th defenseman on Team Canada - Really? Really?
- David Desharnais. That looked more like the guy who racked up 60 points two seasons ago.
- Raphael Diaz. That looked more like the guy we saw most of last season (pre - concussion). Diaz also led a Montreal brigade of shot blockers (4 of 26).
- Josh Gorges. Rest of road trip proved that off night in Calgary was indeed an aberration.
- Alex Galchenyuk. You could see it. He is going to score a bunch of goals. Real soon.
- Daniel Briere. Amid much discussion about being dropped to the 4th line, Briere helped set up opening goal by Brandon Prust by (purposely?) missing the net from just inside the blue line. His first goal as a Hab not what he was dreaming of but it could be a start. Or maybe, if things don't get better, he'll become Montreal's designated empty net specialist.
- Power Play. Technically, the Briere empty-netter was on PP but in reality the Habs were mostly impotent while allowing the Jets a number of odd man rushes and quality scoring chances. A momentum zapper.
Nitpicking in a 3-0 road win but the former trio of Thomas Plekanec - Brian Gionta - Rene Bourque combined for a total of one shot on goal.
- Max Pacioretty injury. Stretching out awkwardly while falling to the ice, yelping in pain and grimacing while needing help to get to the room is well beyond a sprained wrist. Somebody on twitter tonight mentioned Benoit Brunet. Brunet was a real good, smart player and elite penalty killer but he was no Pacioretty. Hopefully, for Pacioretty's sake, that's the last time he'll be compared to Brunet, who's career was ravaged by injuries.