After starting the 2017-2018 NHL regular season with a 1-2-0 record and only three regulation goals to their name, the Montreal Canadiens hit the Bell Centre ice against their Original Six rivals Chicago Blackhawks. The home opener’s celebrations were unusually tame for a franchise that prides itself on entertaining ceremonies. Much to the chagrin of Habs fans, the on-ice result was similarly spiritless…
Tomas Plekanec, Charles Hudon, Artturi Lehkonen: they finally scored a mere 1:15 into the first period. Something had to give for that line as they were consistently the best through the team’s first four games, firing a grand total of 41 shots on net while ferociously forechecking on every shift. I’ve mentioned several times on my podcast that I expect Plekanec to have a stellar season, as he is no longer dealing with a nagging wrist injury and wants to earn himself a contract extension in the final year of his current pact. Moreover, Hudon continues to showcase his nifty puckhandling skills, and it’s a shame that line was broken up by head coach Claude Julien who was surely looking to shake up his troops.
Alex Galchenyuk: okay, I get it– he has not scored. And yes, he coughed the puck up a few times but it’s a classic case of trying to do too much when all else fails. The 23-year-old favorite whipping boy has often been criticized for his lackluster defensive capabilities yet he has been stellar in his own zone. He backchecks regularly and is often the first forward back. Everyone needs to get off his case because it won’t be long before he starts lighting the red lamp. Scorers are streaky– they always have been, they always will be. Losing him is going to set this offense-starved team back.
Victor Mete: again, he’s been very good in almost all facets of hockey. Besides Shea Weber and Karl Alzner (to a lesser degree), I don’t believe there have been any other positives regarding this defensive corps… to date.
Jordie Benn: a turnover on a delayed offside violation against the Blackhawks led to Alex DeBrincat‘s first career goal. Captain Max Pacioretty indirectly called his defensemen out earlier this week, saying that the team tends to play the puck along the boards too often in an attempt to transition out of their defensive zone. That strategy failed once again, and momentum shifted in favor of the visitors who scored only 19 seconds later.
Everybody else: okay, it might seem like a cop-out for me to put everyone else under the “sleepers” category, but there really isn’t much for Habs fans to be happy about and much less to look forward to. Four goals in four games and a powerplay that fired blanks yet again leave so much to be desired. The tide must turn soon, right?
Personally, I believe things can only get better but there are only so many excuses that one can make night in and night out.