It was only the first game back from the Olympic break, but it seems like the Montreal Canadiens haven’t planned on making any changes to their game plan.
If Team Canada taught us anything, it’s that having the puck means that your opponent doesn’t have it and hence cannot score. However, the Canadiens insist on playing a dump and chase game and not controlling the puck. It leads to games like last night where against a very disciplined Detroit Red Wings team, they struggled to get anything going until a last minute goal from Brian Gionta.
Gionta looked the best he’s looked in a long time and the captain most likely benefited from the long break. He’s been really good all season but just had a different look about him. If anyone was going to score that game-tying goal, it was going to be him.
You can talk about the Carey Price injury, but frankly, it doesn’t matter. It’s unlikely he was going to play in the first two games after playing in Sochi regardless. This may just be getting him a well deserved extra break. Peter Budaj was good, and frankly when you wait 59 minutes to score it doesn’t matter who your goalie is: Price, Budaj or Ken Dryden.
It seemed like a lot of these players were getting their legs back so I’m not ready to make wide brush strokes just yet. But when you’re in a playoff race, these games matter. That’s why getting the one point was so important. A quick start here would be like it was in the shortened season a year ago. You get momentum and don’t look back.
This was not a full strength Montreal team who was missing Michael Bournival and Brandon Prust, but the good news is that the depth is such that George Parros didn’t need to play. Everybody will be feeling themselves out especially Alex Galchenyuk who hadn’t played a game in over a month.
You have to hope that Galchenyuk can reinvigorate Lars Eller who has been as present on the scoresheet as the Danish hockey team was at the Olympics. (They weren’t there.)
All in all, it was an important – and lucky – point that the Canadiens got yesterday. The schedule won’t get any easier and this team needs to learn how to score goals and I’m willing to bet it won’t include the dump and chase.