After every Habs game, visit stoneonsports.com to find out which players were studs and which hit the snooze button one too many times. “Stone’s Studs & Sleepers” debuts tonight.
The 2017-2018 NHL regular season schedule has finally begun and the Montreal Canadiens started the year off with a 3-2 shootout win over their Atlantic Division rivals Buffalo Sabres. It was a high-flying affair which saw both teams fire 40 or more shots on net as both goaltenders stood on their heads.
Here are tonight’s studs and sleepers:
Carey Price: get used to seeing his name under this category. When does he ever fail to impress? The netminder continuously killed the Sabres’ momentum by freezing pucks or redirecting shots into the corners and netting. If Thursday night’s game is any indicator, however, the Habs will have to rely on Price game in and game out. Again. He stopped 43 of the 45 shots he faced, good for a 0.956 save percentage.
Jonathan Drouin: not enough can be said about his first-period assist on Max Pacioretty‘s goal. His passing game is a sight to behold and he was very involved on both ends of the ice. Netted the game-winning goal in the shootout.
Max Pacioretty: scored a Pacioretty-esque one-timer goal off of a sweet pass by Drouin. Not much more to report, really…
Brendan Gallager: played his usual brand of gritty, crash-the-net hockey. Notched an assist on Pacioretty’s goal.
Phillip Danault: scored a timely goal and protected the puck well all night. It won’t be long before he’s moved up the lineup instead of centering the third line.
Andrew Shaw: was served a raw deal on his interference penalty. Seemed to have hurt his ribs in a collision with a Sabres player yet was later seen standing in front of the opponent’s net. That’s gutsy.
Shea Weber: registered an assist, seven hits, and four blocked shots. They don’t call him the “Man Mountain” for nothing. Played a near-perfect game.
Victor Mete: are there any doubts that the kid belongs on this team? He was arguably the best defenseman on Thursday night and skated like the wind for all 18+ minutes he was on the ice.
Tomas Plekanec, Charles Hudon, Artturi Lehkonen: that entire line was easily the best forechecking trio of the night. What they lacked in offensive production they made up for with intelligent defensive plays. Fired a combined 9 shots on goal.
Ales Hemsky: took two penalties that could have seriously hurt the team and failed to generate any real momentum on the powerplay. Might need a little time to develop chemistry with his new team.
Alex Galchenyuk: played very responsible hockey in his own end (!) but coughed the puck up one too many times to my liking.
Paul Byron, Jacob de la Rose: neither here nor there.
All defensemen not named Weber or Mete: Jeff Petry, Mark Streit, Jordie Benn, and Karl Alzner (1A) might need to shake off the rust before the team visits the Washington Capitals on Saturday night.