Rabid Habs

Postgame: Habs End Avs’ Winning Streak with 4-2 Win

When a team is struggling and the playoffs seem to be a pipedream, it has to be hard to get up for games on a regular basis. Across professional sports, one thing never fails to get a bad team going: playing spoiler.

Against the red-hot Colorado Avalanche, the Canadiens had a shot to be that spoiler as the Avs came in to Montreal having won their last ten games.

When analyzing the first period, The Athletic’s Arpon Basu said it best.

To avoid ripping off an excellent journalist, I’ll try to elaborate with my own colour. The special teams cancelled each other out, as the Habs’ powerplay looked rather stagnant but their penalty kill did a decent job quieting Hart trophy favorite Nathan MacKinnon.

Carey Price wasn’t asked to do too much, but then again, neither was Jonathan Bernier. I’ve been saying for a long time that if the Canadiens can’t be good, they should at least be fun. I’m not sure the first period can be considered “fun,” but it certainly wasn’t bad.

The second period started with a bang for the Habs. On some slick moves, Jonathan Drouin helped create Nicolas Deslauriers’ seventh goal of the year. After recording a secondary assist on the first goal, Alex Galchenyuk scored from his office on the powerplay. His second point of the game was his 12th goal of the year. Drouin picked up points on both goals and Paul Byron added an assist on the Galchenyuk goal, giving him points in five consecutive games. 2-0 after two periods of play.

And in the third, the Canadiens tried to lock the game down while adding to their lead. Taking the play into his own hands, Jeff Petry went end-to-end and set Drouin up for his seventh goal of the year and his third point of the game. The Avs tried to claw back into the game with a goal from the aforementioned Nathan MacKinnon scored his 24th goal of the year on a point shot that had eyes. 3-1 Habs.

Brendan Gallagher’s empty netter sealed the deal in this one. Well, it did before JT Compher scored a garbage time goal to make it 4-2. The best winning streak of the 2017-18 season belongs to the Colorado Avalanche, but it ends at ten games.

Just like we all predicted in October.

Drouin

I’ve been pretty quiet about the Canadiens most talked about player this season, and for good reason. I don’t think he’s a centre and I don’t think we’re seeing his best hockey. With that being said, he’s a player that leaves me wanting more. On his first or second shift, he made a cheeky move at centre blowing by the defense and generating a pretty good scoring chance.

Then he went out on the powerplay and stunk up the joint. Early in the second, he generated Deslauriers’s goal with some sweet moves. You have to wonder when it’s going to click for him full time. It’s a team game and the team has struggled to find any sort of (positive) consistency, but I was hoping for more from him this year. To be fair, I was expecting more from everyone. Tonight was a game where he looked like he could destroy worlds. Might be a few games before we see that again. Still, multi-point games are something to celebrate in a season that hasn’t produced many of them.

Schlemko

I’m not really sure I fully understand Schlemko. It doesn’t look like he does anything particularly bad, but he’s not this underrated transition machine we hoped he’d be. Coming into the game against Colorado, he was dead last in CF% (47.21%) among Habs’ defensemen with at least 300 minutes played (so, the regulars). Because he doesn’t stand out with fun rushes like the ones we see from Victor Mete and Jakub Jerabek from time to time, his bonehead plays are the only memorable parts of his game.

And his numbers kinda stink, which doesn’t help me understand what’s going on here at all.

Gallagher

Regularly scheduled Brendan Gallagher appreciation post.

Gallagher must have had an extra cup of coffee before the puck dropped against the Avalanche. He was flying in the early going in the game, throwing his body around and finishing his hits. In the second, he made several moves that got a rise out of the crowd. In the third he put on a neat little spin move that gave him enough space to bury the empty netter. Always a treat to watch.

Byron

The best waiver pick-up in Habs’ history is playing some of the best hockey of his career at the moment. His cheeky touch pass to Galchenyuk extended his point streak to five games, as he has registered two goals and four assists since January 15th. He wasn’t playing centre on the Galchenyuk goal as it was on the powerplay, but he certainly hasn’t looked out of place in a new position.

Hits

Fun fact: Coming into Tuesday’s game, the Habs were third in the league in hits with 1185 over 47 games. This means the Canadiens lay the body, on average, 25 times a game. Against the Avalanche, Montreal had 43 hits; a clear strategy to counter the speed of Colorado. Considering the Habs aren’t the biggest team in the league, these two stats are surprising to say the least.

That will do it for me. See you all back here when the Canadiens are finished with the Carolina Hurricanes.

Go Habs Go.

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