The Calgary Flames interim coach Geoff Ward had this to say about the Montreal Canadiens convincing victory against his team. Basically, he called his team out by suggesting that there was ”not enough emotional attachment to this game. We got outbattled, outraced, outcompeted and outworked right from the opening face-off. It took us a long time to start clawing our way back into the hockey game.”
On the other side, the game resulted in a much-needed win by the Canadiens and marked the end of the Flames five-game winning streak. Also interesting to me, given the two team’s relative strength recently, the Canadiens have now beaten Calgary in five straight games. That surprised me.
In this post, I want to keep Canadiens fans up-to-date about news coming from the organization and about the team’s players.
Item One: Carey Price Is Still Carey Price
The 32-year-old Carey Price is simply an amazingly good goalie and has been for what seems like decades. Against the Flames, he stopped all 31 shots he faced and was in complete control of the game, easily stopping any offense the Flames mounted. It was his second shutout of the season and improved his record to 18-16-4.
It was also his second win in a row, which followed a difficult 0-5-1 losing streak. Price has played better than he record and he now has a goals-against-average of 2.87 and a .907 save percentage in his 38 starts. His shut out against the Flames was also the 46th shut out of his career and ties him with the great Ken Dryden for the third-most shut outs in this storied franchise’s history.
Price thanked his teammates for their sacrifice and hard work, saying that the game was: ”obviously a momentum builder. We just carried on from last game. Right until the end, guys were diving in front of pucks. That’s what winning hockey is all about.”
Item Two: Shea Weber Slides Tall for His Goalie
Canadiens captain Shea Weber had four blocked shots while skating a team-high 26:11 of ice time. He plays a ton of minutes for the team and has become one of the team’s true leaders. Once again Weber was re-united with Ben Chiarot, who’d missed two games with a lower-body injury. It’s a good pairing that saves their goalie tons of work because of their willingness to sacrifice their bodies to stop pucks even before they reach the net. On this night, they blocked seven pucks that didn’t even reach Price.
Weber hasn’t been scoring recently, with a single assist in his last eight games. However, his value to the team can’t be measured on the score sheet. He regularly takes up lots of ice space and logs lots of ice time because he plays both on the power-play unit and killing penalties.
Item Three: Ryan Poehling Scores a Rare Goal In Victory Over Flames
Rookie Ryan Poehling gave his team some insurance when he scored a goal in the middle of the third period. It was the rookie’s first goal of the 2019-20 season, which makes Poehling’s hat-trick in his NHL debut late last season a bit odd. However, because he hadn’t scored until more than halfway through this season, the 21-year-old remains a work-in-progress. He needs more offensive experience at the NHL level, but I believe he has the skills to do well at this level. The question is “When?” And, so far this season, the answer is “Not quite yet.”
Poehling has mostly been skating with the team’s bottom-six. He’s been moving up-and-down between the Canadiens and their AHL affiliate the Laval Rocket like a yo-yo. However, because the team has a number of injured forwards fans should look for him to unpack his bags for a while.
Item Four: Defenseman Ben Chiarot’s Back Playing
Halfway through his first season with the Canadiens, Ben Chiarot’s having a breakout season with seven goals, eight assists, and 15 points in 45 games. After a lower-body injury, Chiarot was back skating big minutes (24:11 TOI); however, he didn’t score. His ice time has jumped nearly five minutes since last season when he played with the Winnipeg Jets when he averaged 18:37 TOI per game in 2018-19. He’s averaged 23:03 this season. Obviously that increased ice time also lifts his scoring totals.
Item Five: Dale Weise Scores His First Point of the Season
Dale Weise’s assist on Jordan Weal’s first-period goal was his first point in 15 games this season. It was a rare point for the well-traveled Winnipeg native. He’s been with six teams in 10 NHL seasons, with this being his second go-round with the Canadiens. He’s a depth forward, who’s better known for his physical play and averages just at 9 minutes of ice time per game.
Obviously he’s valued with the team because he’s still playing on a contract that pays him $2.35 million per season that he had signed with the Philadelphia Flyers four years ago. He becomes a UFA after this season.
Item Six: Can Jordan Weal Earn Back Claude Julien’s Trust?
Because it was a shut out, Jordan Weal’s goal that opened the scoring was the game-winning goal. The goal snapped a five-game point drought and might help him get increased ice time. The 27-year-old Weal had been a healthy-scratched, press-box participant for two of the team’s last three games. On the season, Weal only has scored eight points in 37 games.
Item Seven: Jeff Petry’s Now Has Points in Three-Straight Games
Jeff Petry scored an assist in the victory over the Flames. The 32-year-old veteran defenseman now has assists in three straight games and has 28 points in 47 games for the season. Petry’s sort of a quiet scorer, who’s hit the 40-point mark during each of the last two seasons and will probably do so once again in 2019-20.
What’s Next for the Canadiens?
On Wednesday and Thursday, the team plays back-to-back games against the Chicago Blackhawks (at home) and then flying to Philadelphia to play the Flyers. They end the week in a Hockey Night in Canada broadcast against the Vegas Golden Knights on Saturday evening.
The team sits at 20-20-7 for the season and need to win some games in a row to keep their slim chances for a playoff berth alive.
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