CFN – So I’m watching the Habs play the Sabres. The game ended in a 2-1 victory for Montreal in the Shoot out; but after the ten game mark some tendencies are starting to evolve.
First off because of the addition of pieces like Manny Malhotra the team has been better able to utilize key players like Tomas Plekanec. Face offs do count, and Montreal’s record far exceeds its actual performance this season; but you can’t depend on bounces and the last few games are showing that.
Montreal simply isn’t very strong physically; especially against teams that are. It’s best forwards are not physical and you really don’t want PK Subban leading the team in PIMS as he currently is.
There are only six teams that have a worse goal differential than Montreal’s -8. That’s scary. Montreal’s 33 goals for would only be more than St. Louis for division leaders, but the Blues have played two less games than the Habs, and have had major injuries. Montreal has not.
Montreal is 27th in goals per game; 20th in goals against per game; 28th on the power play; 9th in penalty killing; 25th in Shots per game; 23rd in Shots against per game; and 1st in Face Off percentage. Essentially Malhotra has been a huge addition to the squad. While Manny has zero points his near 11 minutes per game has had a big impact on face offs and penalty killing.
PA Parenteau has been an improvement over Brian Gionta; but the team hasn’t filled the void that seemed to give it an extra gear after the Vanek acquisition.
3rd liners Rene Bourque and Lars Eller have had a dismal start to the season with 2 goals and 3 assists between both of them and Eller being a -9 in the first season block.
Subban still isn’t playing more minutes than Markov. Jarred Tinordi is looking like he should be seeing more minutes than Nathan Beaulieu.
Carey Price has not stolen any games. He has yet to record a shut out. His 2.94 GAA and .907 sv% are not commiserate with his role and salary. Dustin Tokarski in just less than a third as many minutes has recorded a 2.01 GAA and .929 sv%. Heck much maligned Ondrej Pavelec in Winnipeg has recorded 2.01 and .924.
Of course its early days. The good news is that Pacioretty and Desharnais are off to a better start that last season and most of the top six are meeting expectations.
First Block Three Stars: 1) Manny Malhotra 2) Tomas Plekanec 3) Dustin Tokarski
Honorable mention: 1) PA Parenteau 2) Alex Galchenyuk 3) Andrei Markov
Need to Improve: 1) Carey Price 2) PK Subban 3) Lars Eller
Montreal needs to spend more time in their opponents end. They need to shoot more. Their defense corp is geared for moving the puck and offense. They need to do that better in block two. Every team needs to make a move or two; some just a tinkering; some a major move. Of course it’s very difficult to do that sometimes; but the Habs still haven’t addressed their issue at Centre or on size in their top six.
They also don’t have anything to really dangle to get those needs filled unless they make a major hockey trade which means they may have to gear up for the play offs and hope to rent a player again as they did with Vanek.
What do you think Habs fans? You can post your comments below.
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