Rabid Habs

Smells Like Canadiens Spirit

Habs' Alexei Emelin

“I don’t know if we’re doing things differently. Sometimes it’s really just about confidence and luck. We’ve always been able to score timely goals on the power play when we’ve had to.” – P.K. Subban

The NHL All-Star Game break was over and the Montreal Canadiens were back at the Bell Centre to face the Dallas Stars, a team who dominated the Habs in a four to one win on December 6th. The Stars would be looking to bounce back after a three to one loss against the Boston Bruins last week, while the Canadiens would be looking for another win after their two to one victory over the Nashville Predators in overtime last Tuesday. As of right now, the Dallas Stars are among the league’s top offensive teams and are currently fighting for a post-season berth, but even though the team are boasting an offensive unit that averages 3.09 goals per game, which ranks fourth in the league, the Stars continue to struggle to pick up wins. They currently sit sixth in the Central Division, four points back of the Calgary Flames and the final playoff spot. The Stars also give up an average of 3.26 goals per game, which ranks them 26th in the NHL in that department. As for the Habs, the team has had a hard time with defense, only allowing just 2.33 goals per game. The Montreal Canadiens would be put to the test against one of the NHL’s top-scoring teams, while the Dallas Stars would be facing a team who have recently brought their power play efficiency to 33%, scoring seven power play goals over the last four games. It’s safe to say that the final meet up of the season for these two teams would be survival of the fittest.

After scrambles in the crease and some missed chances to get pucks in the net, Alexei Emelin slipped a sneaky shot past Kari Lehtonen off of a bounce pass from Brandon Prust with 13 minutes and 53 seconds left in the first period. There were a lot of odd plays and crazy bounces from both the Canadiens and the Stars, including insane moves from the Habs defensemen and goaltender Carey Price. If that weren’t enough, Alex Galchenyuk gave the game a little shake n’ bake with a great backhand shot (assisted by Nathan Beaulieu and and Sergei Gonchar) which gave the Canadiens a two to nothing lead with only ten minutes and seven seconds left. The Dallas Stars were applying the pressure and trying to keep the pucks deep in the Montreal zone and the Habs sure made it difficult for the Stars to catch a break, however the Stars were able to get one point with only one second left of the period thanks to Jamie Benn (assisted by Jason Spezza) and the period ended with the Habs holding a two to one lead.

Brendan Gallagher lit up the lamp and gave the Canadiens their third goal of the night on the power play (assisted by P.K. Subban and Andrei Markov) only five minutes into the second period, but soon enough Patrick Eaves (assisted by Tyler Seguin and Jamie Benn) scored on an open space that gave the Stars the extra point they needed to only be one point away from a tie with nine minutes and 55 seconds left. The Canadiens were in attack mode and with enough pressure and force, the Habs were able to keep their three to two lead until the clock ran out.

With great patience, excellent penalty kill, and great pressure on the forecheck, the Montreal Canadiens were able to hold off the Dallas Stars from bringing the game to a tie and despite the Stars’ best efforts in the Montreal zone, the Habs held on to their three to two lead until the third period was over.

Here are my thoughts on tonight’s game.

  • Travis Moen played his first game against the Canadiens since being traded earlier in the year for Sergei Gonchar and it’s safe to say that Moen is still Moen. The only difference between Dallas Moen and Montreal Moen is the jersey change. It’s not a diss and I’m not saying Travis Moen is god awful, but the trade for Sergei Gonchar keeps showing that Marc Bergevin made a wise decision. Moen is an okay defenseman, but he doesn’t deliver enough to be the best d-man for the Habs.
  • Carey Price hasn’t missed a beat since his comeback from the All Star weekened. Anyone would normally think that a player who has had a week off from practice wouldn’t be as alert as they would with a week’s worth of practice, but the amazing thing about Price is that he makes comebacks look easy. Every time he’s been hurt or away from the home ice as talked about above, he comes back and his moves are still smooth as butter. The man looks so relaxed in the net that you could have him sitting in a hot tub in the net and he’d STILL block as many shots as he does in every game he plays. When I found out Price was going to the All Star games but P.K. Subban and Max Pacioretty weren’t, I was slightly pissed. However, I’m happy that he’s considered such an elite player that he can play with any mixed team and still look like gold. Maybe now teams and hockey fans will finally pipe down about how much the ‘Habs suck’ after seeing what Price can do.
  • The Dallas Stars definitely saw a completely different side of the Habs since their last encounter. Back in early December, the Canadiens were still struggling slightly during away from home games. However with the right changes made, this gave Montreal a better advantage at winning and a better advantage on the power play. The Canadiens currently sit at third in the Atlantic division and eighth overall in the NHL, which isn’t bad for the Habs and will most likely change in the upcoming months (we all know those boys will be getting the playoff spot). This team went from disadvantaged and depressed to determined and winning. There’s still a lot of work to be done, but the Montreal Canadiens are looking more beautiful than ever and definitely showed the Stars what they’re made of.
  • There’s a lot of talk about whether or not it’s best to trade Alexei Emelin. Personally I’m torn between a trade and a no trade. I lean towards a trade because of the way Emelin has been playing so far this season. He’s either still having a rough time with his knee or maybe he’s just not feeling it any more with the Canadiens, but something is keeping him from being the best defenseman he can be. I also lean towards a no trade because Emelin does have his moments on the ice where you wonder, “Why in the hell are we thinking of trading this guy? He’s one hell of a guy!” I don’t hate Alexei Emelin and neither should you, but you sometimes have to wonder if trading him for a stronger asset would be the best or worst decision the Montreal Canadiens could make. What are your thoughts? Tweet them to me.

The Montreal Canadiens will head to Madison Square Garden to face the New York Rangers on Thursday at 7:00pm.

(Purchase your Canadiens tickets here. | Achetez vos billets des Canadiens ici.)

Follow Jessica-Lyn on Twitter: @strucxtures.