There was a time not too long ago where beating the Montreal Canadiens near the end of the season was as close to a Stanley Cup celebration as I would get.
Last night was probably the first time ever I almost felt bad for the Habs. Their claim to fame this year is 4 consistent lines, a big body defence and a physical, grind them down style. I saw none of that last night. This team is desperately missing Gallagher and even then I don’t think that even makes the final score 4-2.
Jack Campbell played solid in net and after a brief slump, a revamped perspective after losing games – he’s back to looking dominant again. If Andersen is fully healthy come playoff time, i’m salivating at the prospect of having that tandem for a deep run.
This game was over 10 minutes into the first. After a quick powerplay goal and a goal of the year candidate 5 minutes later from Auston Matthews – the Habs looked lifeless and had absolutely no pushback.
Here are my Post Game Thoughts:
•Guys!? Have you heard of this Auston Mathews kid? This year’s goal scoring leader – the same player who leads the NHL in even strength goals since entering the league 5 years ago.
He has taken his game to another level this year. He is now the all situations centre we have hoped(and lowkey known) he would develop into. And he still delivers highlight reel goals like this on a consistent basis:
The hand-eye coordination here is next level. What I didn’t realize until watching the highlight package after the game was Matthews scored far post, glove side on Jake Allen.
•Nick Foligno has come as advertised as well. Penalty kill to me is just somewhere you put bottom 6 players, and players who lack a well rounded game to increase their value on your team.
Marner stepped in last year and changed that narrative for me – Foligno has completely re-shaped my idea of the penalty kill. He has been an absolute force on the penalty kill. He knows where his lanes are, where the pass is going and if he gets the puck on his stick its going down the ice.
This isn’t the PK but still highlights what i’ve said. He breaks up the pass and finishes his check. Not only does he finish his check he actually lays out Lehkonen. I am absolutely clamouring at the thought of us rolling out a top 6 lineup that has Foligno and Hyman on 2 separate lines. This is nightmare fuel for other teams.
•Ilya Mikheyev had a noticeably bad game, and with plenty of depth options on the horizon – he may find himself sitting down the stretch or working his way off the roster if Keefe wants Riley Nash in
•If Galchenyuk isn’t in the top 6 I don’t see his value in the bottom 6, especially if he’s not producing with guys like Marner, Matthews, Nylander and Tavares
•I’m convinced Alex Kerfoot is gone to Seattle in the off-season, or at least traded at the draft
•Sandin-Dermott was a competent, fluid, puck moving pair. Still confident Dermott-Bogo is the preferred bottom pair come playoff time though