Rabid Habs

Postgame: Habs Dominate Hockey, Preds win the Shootout 3-2

Just a normal game between two teams from two different conferences. One a cup contender and the other a pert near rebuilder. Nothing extra involved in this game. No larger narrative to talk about. No superstars to iso in our coverage. Just a random game picked out of a sea of 82. Ho hum.

For what it’s worth, it was a game that the Canadiens seemed involved in from the very beginning. Nashville came into the Bell Centre with the fourth best record in the NHL and they seem primed for a trade deadline shopping spree. The Canadiens admittedly don’t have much else to play for this year, so it’s always interesting to keep an eye on their play. On Saturday night, the standings didn’t seem to matter much.

Though there wasn’t any scoring through the first half of the game, there were some plays of note. Montreal had a knack for getting to the net, and life was tough for Pekka Rinne early on. Against an analytics darling (TM) like Nashville, it was nice to see the Canadiens put together a strong effort in the possession department through the first two periods. 

Brendan Gallagher had his fingerprints all over this one. Off the scoresheet, Gallagher was at his best. Finishing his checks and sticking his nose into places it doesn’t belong, Gallagher got under the skin of a former Montreal Canadien not named Alexei Emelin or Yannick Weber.

On the scoresheet, Gallagher hit a nice season milestone in the second period. On a rush created by a crafty defensive play by Artturi Lehkonen, Gallagher buried his 20th goal of the year. Just over eight minutes into a period that the Canadiens dominated, they had the first lead of the game.

Before the end of the period, Scott Hartnell created the equalizer. But don’t tell David Schlemko. Not sure he knows exactly what happened yet. On that play, and too many this year, Schlemko was big for nothing, as he failed to block a passing lane; the only passing lane. 1-1.

In the third, Nikita Scherbak came as close to scoring as he has all year. On a turnover from Yannick Weber, Scherbak tried to jam the puck behind Rinne by forcing him off the post. Somehow the puck didn’t go in, but it wasn’t from lack of effort. Scherbak has been great, but I’ll get to that later.

At any rate, a net mouth scramble that saw Jordie Benn and Joe Morrow do everything but prevent the go ahead goal ended with a goal being scored over a sprawling Carey Price. Kevin Fiala got the goal, and the Preds led with just over seven minutes to go in the game.

Down a goal late in the third, Claude Julien pulled Price for the extra attacker. After some nervous moments and some attempt clears for the Predators, Montreal did it. Firing a perfect shot over the shoulder of Rinne, Jonathan Drouin tied the game in the final two minutes of regulation. Lehkonen, really feeling it as of late, picked up his second assist of the game.

Overtime, while incredibly entertaining, solved nothing. A shootout goal from Ryan Ellis was the difference in the Predators’ shootout win in Montreal.

Hockey is funny like that. Montreal was the better team all night, but the hot goalie steals the show.

PK

In case you didn’t notice, I got through this entire post without mentioning PK Subban by name. Not once.

Why?

Because it’s what some fans want. On social media, no matter what side of the fence you’re on, you’ve probably been told to “get over” the trade. There are certain pockets of this fan base who think it’s appropriate to police the opinions of other fans and journalists by holding our credibility to the platform over our heads. Mentioning Subban’s name draws eye rolls and sometimes some pretty ugly interactions.

You’re not a real fan! Subbanista! “Journalist.”

All because a name was mentioned. If you find yourself in that group; if you think social media should be an echo chamber that certifies your opinions, the first portion of this postgame is for you. I’ve censored out the name that makes you so hot and bothered. I hope you enjoyed it.

The rest of this post, however, is not for you.

Because no matter how clean you scrub your Twitter feed, Subban is still liked. No matter how tight you tie on those horse blinders, Subban is still an elite defender and very well might win his second Norris trophy this season. I’m tired of the tip-toeing Habs fans need to do around each other to avoid making each other sad. We all root for the same team but you wouldn’t know it by searching for the Habs hashtag on Twitter.

I’ve rambled a bit here, but I think it’s important to yell into the void every once in a while.

I’ll move on from the point with this: If seeing Subban’s name bothers you; if seeing him take his rightful place in the spotlight bothers you; if you don’t understand why fans and local media are belaboring the trade that sent the most exciting player in the league to another team;

If you find that any one of these statements describes you, can I ask you something?

What the hell have you been doing for the last two years?

Scherbak

I’m starting to think this kid should find an apartment. His effort against Nashville was his best so far, and it wasn’t just on the offensive side of the puck. Scherbak has surprised me with his ability to play the 200 foot game from time to time. In the second period, Scherbak was the last forward back to help out Schlemko. He helped relay the puck out of the zone and managed to get an excellent scoring chance just moments later. Just 22 years old, Scherbak might have a real chance to stick with this team.

Lehkonen

The Lehkonen we’ve seen over the last four games has been the player I’ve wanted to see all year. A bad back kept him from being that player for a good portion of the year, but the player has all the tools to be an effective offensive talent in this league. It doesn’t hurt to have a coach that trusts you in all areas of the ice. With five points in his last three games, I am calling it now: Lehkonen is officially back.

Kill The Shootout

NHL executives are able to look at the period of play that preceded the shootout and determine that the skills competition is the best way to end a game. Never trust a suit.

That’s all I’ve got tonight. Talk soon.

Go Habs Go.

Follow Ian on Twitter @BoisvertIan and follow @RabidHabs for more updates! 

 

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