Two Very Different Wins and the Trade Deadline

After an encouraging win in Toronto on Saturday and a match-up against the Devils on Monday, Habs fans everywhere were allowed to expect two wins in a row from their team; a first in a long time. They got it, but it wasn’t pretty. Both teams looked completely asleep for the better part of the first 40 minutes. The Devils were up 1-0 after that initial 40 minutes as Palmieri took advantage some weak play by the Habs top D pairing. The final 20 minutes was much better on both sides, at least offensively, as Moore opened-up the lead with a shot through a maze of bodies that was answered in 11 seconds as Radulov put one through a screen to keep the game close. Zajac put the Devils back up by 2 with a power play marker on a rather soft call against Danault. This was once again answered quickly as Pacioretty copied Radulov’s shot 43 seconds after the Zajac goal. Then, with less than a minute to go, the top players went to work for Montreal. Radulov’s hustle prevented the Devils from getting out of their zone, Weber won a foot race to a loose puck in the offensive zone corner, Galchenyuk won a battle down low to get the puck out to Pacioretty who ripped a wrist-shot home with 52 seconds to play to send the game to overtime. In overtime, the Habs were fortunate to get a man-advantage and with Weber being shadowed, Radulov found Galchenyuk at the top-right corner for his now usual one-timer that earned Montreal the desired second point.

If the game against the Devils was ugly, last night’s 1-0 triumph over the Blue Jackets was the exact opposite. Both teams came out flying as the game had speed, scoring chances, shot blocking and physicality. The Blue Jackets had come out of their bye week with a roar but were tamed by the speed and puck possession of the Canadiens on this night. Carey Price ended the game with 26 saves and more than a few posts while Sergei Bobrovsky made several excellent saves just to send the game to overtime. Once in overtime, the Habs were robbed of their second goal on the night as the official once again blew the whistle too quickly on a play where Bobrovsky never had the puck. The following play, Carey Price made three excellent saves which was followed by the official making up for the previous hasty whistle. It was a more than questionable call on Seth Jones which allowed Galchenyuk to copy-paste his overtime winner from the previous game to earn the second point for the bleu-blanc-rouge. Tortorella was justified to be upset with the call against Jones, but the truth is that it is rather rare for a goaltender to get the better of the officials twice in one night like Bobrovsky did on this night.

 

Observations

1. I have no problem with Julien putting the blender to the lines mid-game like he did on Monday night. Lehkonen had an off-night on Monday, was demoted in favour of Plekanec which forced Galchenyuk to the wing. The important thing here is that it didn’t stay this way. The second line was back together last night and Lehkonen played a hell of a game, leading the Habs in scoring chances on the night.

2. Pacioretty and Radulov are really carrying this team right now. Bergevin has to step up and get Galchenyuk some help on the second unit to make this team more dangerous than a one-line wonder.

3. Nesterov is a disaster and hopefully the completed trades on the blue line mean that he’ll be used sparingly from now on. First impression of Benn is that it was a great move for Montreal. He’s exactly what this team needed and what Pateryn was not able to provide on a consistent basis. You all know that I really believe Pateryn could have done it if given a longer look, but Benn will be physical and give Markov some relief on the PK.

4. First speed test passed for the Weber and Markov pairing. In fact, they looked better against Columbus than they did against the Devils. Still not sure they could it up in a playoff series, but it sure looks like we are going to find out.

5. Don’t look now but that’s 5 points for Galchenyuk during the Habs three game winning streak that counted all of 8 goals. If he can provide some secondary scoring to 67-47, whether he gets some help or not, this team can certainly get back to winning consistently.

Trade Deadline

Montreal started their dealing by moving Greg Pateryn and a 4th to Dallas for Jordie Benn. While I’ve been a big supporter of Pateryn, I have to admit that I like the move. Benn will play on the PK and already showed last night that he takes the body hard and makes sure that no one will mess with Carey Price or Nathan Beaulieu while he is on the ice. Benn, at least at first glance, has less offensive potential than Pateryn but is a proven defensive commodity and will actually get to play ahead of Nesterov, which is great news.

The second trade was to send David Desharnais to Edmonton in exchange for defenceman Brandon Davidson. While I expect Davidson to be the seventh defenceman, many have wondered if he won’t split time with Nesterov if Alexei Emelin or Nathan Beaulieu are moved today. In my opinion, it would require a deal of importance for either of them to get moved, so it’s more than likely this deal is Bergevin giving Desharnais a last chance to earn a contract for next season in exchange for more defensive depth. The fact that Bergevin freed up 1.4M here only to acquire Ott at means that Bergevin might be less hopeful than the fans that he can get a significant deal done today.

The final trade last night was a confusing one as Bergevin acquired Steve Ott from Detroit for a late round pick. This acquisition likely means that Andrighetto is either being returned to St. John’s or moved during the day. Ott is likely to play sparingly, sharing the 12/13 slot with Brian Flynn? To me, Ott is a depth acquisition because management does not believe that they can trust Terry, Farnham or other bottom 6 guys if ever injuries occur. Other than this, I don’t think he’s too useful of an acquisition. Then again, perhaps a change of scenery can be beneficial and he can rile up the guys along side Shaw and Gallagher.

Expected today is truthfully not much. Montreal sits with some cap space but Bergevin would really have to shed some salary to make the type of move this team needs to move forward. There might be some minor tinkering, but even that may be done with the trades above. The last 4 hours might be quiet in Montreal. So far, it’s been quiet everywhere.

I hope to be back tonight with a recap of dealings across the league today, and perhaps a game preview for Thursday if things remain this quiet.

Thanks for reading,

Kevin Léveillé

Follow me on Twitter: @kev1586