What did we learn?
Florida is pathetic.
But your Montreal Canadiens have an unfortunate history of dialling up stinkers against inferior opposition.
That wasn’t the case in Sunset … uh, I mean Sunrise.
Stat of the Night:
In 134 career games heading into this season, Carey Price had four regular season shutouts and two more in 19 playof games.
He’s got seven in 55 starts this season.
No, Price didn’t have to be great against the Panthers. But he made 30 saves, a couple of which were challenging.
His teammates blocked another 16, and I liked their shutdown work in the third period, when it was obvious that Florida was done and the only question was whether Price would get the goose egg.
A weird stat they talked about on L’Antichambre:
Tomas Plekanec had six shots on goal, Mike Cammalleri one and Jeff Halpern one.
Weird that a centre outshot his wingers – and indicative of the line’s struggles.
Michel Bergeron is suggesting Brian Gionta be elevated to the Plekanec line. And Scott Gomez dropped to play with Tom Pyatt and Travis Moen.
The Antichambre gang likes to get on number 11’s ass.
I can’t see dropping a veteran to the fourth line while the team is winning. It’s a panic move, and it might not play too well in the room.
Rather than fret about Plekanec and diss Gomez, let’s celebrate the work of the other two centres, David Desharnais and Lars Eller.
Desharnais scored a crazy goal that Scott Clemmensen should have stopped. That’s seven goals and 8 assists in 26 games for DD. His totals project to 23 goals, 25 assists over 82 games – and maybe more if DD were playing more than 12 minutes a game.
Gaston Therrien’s chalk talk on L’Antichambre highlighted Desharnais’s defence. It’s something Jacques Martin demands of his centres, and DD never cheats on his own-end responsibilities.
Eller has brought Andrei Kostitsyn back to life and should get a cut of the big guy’s next contract – which might be with the Canadiens, the way AK46 is playing. Kostitsyn had a goal and an assist, finished plus-3 and has scored in five straight games … while playing third-line minutes.
The other plus-3 was Hal Gill, who had another quietly excellent game. He even scored the winning goal!
James Wisniewski had two assists (as did Travis Moen, on the Eller line). Wiz is seventh among NHL Dmen with 42 points – four fewer than Dustin Byfuglien and Kris Letang, each of whom has played seven games more than Wizniewski.
Good acquisition, Pierre Gauthier
And here’s another one:
The Canadiens haven’t yielded a power-play goal with Brent Sopel in the lineup. That’s what they go him for, to play second unit behind Gill and P.K. Subban, and the PK is 12-for-12 over three games, all Ws.
The PK, which had sunk to 10th in the league, is 7th. And the power play is eighth. So the team is getting good hockey from JM’s beloved special teams.
The Canadiens are solid in sixth.
If the playoffs started now, they’d play Game One in Tampa Bay.
Which is where the Canadiens will try to make this a perfect road trip on Saturday.
• • •
I was writing and only half listening to L’Antichambre, but they boys were in high spirits.
Bergie and Mario Tremblay were laughing so hard I suspect they had to change pants during commercial breaks.