Rabid Habs

True Habs, Strong & Free

We’re two young teams who rely on our speed and we have a lot to prove tonight.” – Max Pacioretty

A moment of silence and a heart-warming tribute for Ottawa took place last night at the Bell Centre at Montreal’s 413th sold out game, but from the looks on the Canadiens faces, the silence seemed to last a little longer for them. It was just last spring that Carey Price suffered a season-ending injury opposite New York in Game 1 of the Eastern Conference finals that left the Rangers taking victory. It is clear that Price, like a drum, is the backbone and rhythm for the Montreal Canadiens. With a 2.06 GAA and a 0.934 save percentage, he has shown that he is ready to take on any challenge that comes his way in his seventh start of the season. No line-up changes took place and haven’t since Tuesday, but Michel Therrien feels his winning line up doesn’t need to be changed: “I have no reason to take Dale Weise out. I really like his speed and his play around the net. Travis Moen is also doing excellent work. I like his speed. I can play him during five on fives or on special teams. He’s doing an excellent job on the penalty kill with Malhotra.”

The Canadiens got off to a hot start. The beginning seemed a bit tricky with early penalty troubles and the fact that both teams were putting on extreme pressure. What I’ve always loved about Canadiens vs. Rangers games is that both teams bring so much energy and teamwork to the ice, but tonight we saw Montreal take the cake and turn on “beast mode” as Max Pacioretty and Tomas Plekanec played 2 on 0. Pacioretty and Plekanec had a great passing moment before Pacioretty placed a nice set up in front of the net for Plekanec, who made the sweet shorthand goal at 12 minutes and 6 seconds into the first period. This tied Plekanec with Yvon Lambert for 27th on Montreal’s all-time scoring list. Carl Hagelin tied the game a few minutes after with Dominic Moore picking up a secondary assist, leaving the first period tied 1-1. The Rangers had seemed to find common ground.

New York started applying more pressure during the start, but had lost their chances. From Derick Brassard being robbed by Carey Price on a chance coming out of the penalty box, to Marc Staal nearly eluding Price in the closing minute, the Rangers just could not catch a break. And eleven minutes and forty six seconds into the second period, Lars “Larry” Eller gets his first goal of the season, definitely a goal he deserved after his solid play so far this season. This left the rest of the period 2-1.

The final period of the game showed the Canadiens claiming victory and the Rangers desperate for a win. After helping out Turtleneck Plek, Max Pacioretty, left all alone out front, got to eat his cake too when he added a third goal for Montreal with just 7 minutes left in the game. Dale Weise was assisting him from behind the net. This also gave Weise his first two points of the season. While Montreal born Anthony Duclair had his moment with one assist and three shots, it wasn’t enough to bring the Rangers’ score up, leaving Montreal to take the victory.

Carey Price stood tall, proud, and strong last night, stopping 34 shots he came in contact with. While each team did have their ups and downs, there’s no denying that Montreal took New York’s miscues and used them to their advantage.

Here are some final thoughts about last night’s game:

  • Rene Bourque – I love you dude, but you’re not in the Stanley Cup finals anymore. You’re focusing too much on speed and aggressive force, which is causing all of your shots to miss the net (“The slap is just too damn high!”). You’re in the regular season now; just tone it down a little and I have no doubt that you’ll be a superstar this season. Plus, it kills me to think that one day you’ll go on Twitter and see how many people have started the hashtag trend, “#AlmostBourque.”
  • I really like the Galchenyuk-Plekanec-Parenteau line. Tomas Plekanec, Alex Galchenyuk, and P-A Parenteau are starting the season off well and they work fantastic together. However, am I the only one who thinks that a line featuring Pacioretty and Plekanec would work well for the rest of the season? The chemistry between those two guys last night was incredible; it reminds me of the relationship that Markov and Subban have when they team up together on the ice.
  • I have never been more proud of a player than I am with Lars Eller. During the beginning of last season, I noticed that he seemed to take a liking to what I call, “soft passes.” I’m not making fun of his playing abilities at all. He is a great player for the Habs, but he needed more power in his stick, which did improve drastically during both the Eastern Conference finals and last night against the Rangers. What I also like about Larry is that he’s full of surprises. He could be looking beat down and tired one minute, and then energetic and ready to take on anyone the next. He’s someone I’m keeping my eye on during this season.

My final thought – Chris Kreider. Kreider seemed to have his emotions off for this match against a team who most of its fan base labeled him as a villain but Carey Price, while playing the tough goalie role, also seemed to be careful and sometimes worrisome when Kreider was close to the net. But that’s something that you’d expect from a guy who got a hard hit from the Rangers player when he last saw him that left him out of the rest of the Eastern Conference finals. While Kreider said that he was not too worried about whether Montreal would be out to get him, I was actually glad that Montreal took the focus off of Kreider and put all of their focus in winning the game. Montreal has always been a classy team. They leave the past in the past, and they move on. While most of us were extremely angry with the crash into Carey Price, it’s something we have to expect to happen. This is hockey; this is a sport with fights and extreme injuries. Every player in the NHL is bound to get hurt, some worse than others.

Despite the long and winding rivalry against the Rangers, one thing is certain. The Montreal Canadiens are off to a hot start this year, and they’re not going to let anyone get in their way.

Follow Jessica-Lyn on Twitter: @strucxtures