If you're reading this, then like me you're a hopefully a Hab fan. I'm not a professional writer, nor am I a statistician. I'm going to call them as I see them, from the perspective of a pure fan.
FYI - the goal will be to post blogs on every single game from here on in.
Game 1 - Habs vs Leafs
My initial thoughts were of jubilation, nothing makes my favorite pastime better than when I can watch either the Bruins or Leafs lose to the Habs. But let's breakdown the game.
It took the Canadians too long to get their feet moving, and the powerplay was nothing short of an unmitigated disaster. Once the nerves of opening up the season were done, and the shots were tilted one way, Patches undressed Phaneuf faster than a 16 year old boy with a clear shot of scoring. And score he did!
The rest of the game began to show the Canadiens speed, and there are three players I would like to highlight.
Plekanec - must be the happiest person in the league right now. He actually has wingers!
Galchenyuk - he looks so much stronger, quicker and confident that he did last season. If he continues this kind of play the Habs could contend for top spot in the east.
Malhotra - with him winning draws at this pace the D have the opportunity to move the put quickly and efficiently to the forwards. I can't put enough emphasis on how important winning the draws is. Puck possession teams drive play, and this team can drive play if they have the puck. I also like what this effect could have on the other centers. They have to practice against him. That should lead to a significantly better team in the dot this season.
I would like to mention that the offside goal and the 2 unlucky goals are apart of the game. We should all be pleased that even though 2 of 3 bounces went against the Habs they still persevered.
Final score 4-3 Habs win
Game 2 - Habs vs Caps
Again the Habs started slow, and by slow I mean un-thawed molasses trying to flow uphill in the middle of winter slow. The beauty about that is even though they were under fire, they never quite broke. A one goal lead in this new era of hockey isn't something I would call safe, so when Plekanec tied the score and the Habs won in the shootout it wasn't the most shocking turn of events.
Here are my standouts:
Plekanec - he would be the hero if not for the goalie. But it's nice to see him filling the back of the net.
Galchenyuk - his setup on the Plekanec goal was a thing of beauty, but did you see the deke in the shootout! Youtube it if you missed it.
Tokarski - if anyone had any doubts coming out of training camp, their fears should have been put at ease. The kid has top end skill, and he's calm under pressure. If not for him, this game would have been easily out of reach in the first period. It's no wonder they didn't want to put him on waivers to send him down.
I don't like the trend of starting slowly, but let's face it, this was a back to back game, and the Caps home opener. If the Caps had come out flat it would have been a disgrace. Plus any points on the road this early in the season are invaluable later on.
Final score 2-1 Habs in the shootout (win streak at 2)
Game 3 - Habs vs Flyers
You could try to blame the fact that it was the 3rd game in 4 nights (what is with the horrendous scheduling?), but the Flyers were facing the same dilemma. You could blame the fact that it's the 3rd road game, still no Bell center in sight, but that really isn't an excuse, all teams play 41 road games. So what was the excuse to the slow start? Well I can tell you one thing, it wasn't goaltending.
Many of you will look at Price and say, "He didn't make the big saves early." Fair enough, but as a goalie I can tell you that it's easy to blame the goalie for goals against. Should we break them down?
1st goal - Ummm how about not letting the man sneak by everyone for a partial breakaway? Could he have stopped it, sure, but should he have had to?
2nd goal - Simmonds can shoot. Most snipers love that angle, and the wide open space he had make that a vicious combo. Could he have stopped it? I believe this one he should have had, but at the same time, that much time and space is a bad spot to leave your goalie in.
3rd goal - Ummm the man made 2 saves, the rebound went to the side of the net where he just barely missed making another highlight reel save. Could he have saved it? Possibly but doubtful. Bot D missed their assignments, and Lecavalier got a freebie.
Here is the great part about this story... I'm still writing about a win! The Habs weren't a horrible team nor were they playing horribly before the 3 goal comeback in the 3rd period. Emery made some huge saves, like the toe save on Eller, and until the Flyers looked completely overwhelmed in the 3rd Emery had outplayed Price. Goalies can steal the show, but not on this night.
Plekanec - he seems to be on a mission to be the best player on the Habs this season. Another clutch goal, throw in an assist for added pleasure.
Galchenyuk - Perfect tip in, and the way he carries the puck with authority is impressive. Would have loved that breakaway to have been the winner...
Markov - the ageless general lit the lamp and added a couple of helpers. He's been so reliable so far, but I do worry about the heavy minutes he's seeing.
Getting the win is great, not picking up the ROW is a little troubling, but points in the bank are more important that ROW. The powerplay is still in the crapper, and if I were the Habs I would be working on that more than anything. I love the even strength scoring, but making teams pay on the powerplay would make these games a little less hair-raising.
Final score 4-3 Habs win in a shootout
There was so much more to say, but I had to condense all 3 games into one. Feel free to comment, and as long as it's coherent and not completely distasteful I'll try to answer back. Otherwise I'll leave you with this thought to ponder;
If you took Markov off of the 1st unit of the powerplay, what 4 forwards would you play Subban with?
Thanks for reading!