The Montreal Canadiens were playing their third game in four nights on Saturday, and it was against the Stanley Cup champion St. Louis Blues. No matter. They beat the Blues 6-3, and were led by Brendan Gallagher’s goal and two assists.
Six different skaters scored for the Canadiens – Tomas Tatar, Jonathan Drouin, Philip Danault, Arturri Lehkonen, and Max Domi. Drouin was awarded his team’s player of the game award, a sword replica from the Arnold Schwarzenegger movie ”Conan the Barbarian.”
As Drouin noted, ”Last year we had the cape. This year it’s the sword. It’s a new tradition.”
It was the Blues’ first regulation loss of the season as well as the Canadiens’ first regulation victory of the season.
In this post, I want to keep Canadiens’ fans up-to-date about news emerging from the team.
Item One: Jonathan Drouin Is Off to a Great Start
Is this my imagination, or was it only a few days ago that Drouin’s name was mentioned in trade talks? Whatever, Drouin has been on a roll and has continued his strong play. He scored a goal and an assist in the Canadiens’ 6-3 win over the Blues. After being scolded for his lack of passion and drive during the preseason, Drouin picked it up a notch when the regular season rolled around.
Drouin has scored two goals and six points in five games this season and is tied for the scoring lead with Brendan Gallagher. Is it possible that Drouin might become the player who teased Canadiens’ fans with the great start to his 2018-19 season? As Canadiens’ fans recall, he began last season as a point-per-game player.
Obviously, should Drouin continue this pace, he’d be staring a breakout season in the face.
About the game against the Blues, Drouin noted that he’s trying to keep things simple. “I don’t want to complicate things.” Let’s hope simple works well for him as he moves forward. (from Pat Hickey, “In the Habs’ Room: Gallagher’s clutch third-period goal gives crucial cushion,” Montreal Gazette, 10/12-19)
Item Two: Carey Price Wins His Second Game
Carey Price news is always good news for the Canadiens. During the Blues’ game, Price made 26 saves on 29 shots in the 6-3 win. It was his second victory of the season, and came after losing to the Red Wings in Detroit. Price has a 3.38 GAA and .901 save percentage after four games in this young this season.
Item Three: Will Nick Suzuki Be a Healthy Scratch?
So far, it isn’t coming together for Nick Suzuki. He was the spare forward during Monday’s Canadiens’ practice, which might mean he would be out of the line-up for Tuesday’s game against the Tampa Bay Lightning.
Head coach Claude Julien seems to be waffling about the 20-year-old Suzuki. He’s averaged just over 14 minutes of ice time each game but has only scored a single assist in the five games in which he’s played. Julien has played Suzuki on the fourth line several times during the first five games.
Item Four: Victor Mete Scores a Point, But Still No Goal
In the on-going saga of a record chasing a player, Victor Mete registered an assist in the 6-3 victory over the Blues. However, he’s still seeking the first goal of his NHL career. So far, the 21-year-old Mete has played 125 games without a goal, which is a franchise record.
Item Five: Nick Cousins Won’t Play Against the Lightning
At first, it looked as if Nick Cousins would get a crack at playing against the Lightning on Tuesday. It was reported that, during practice, Cousins skated on the fourth line. However, news this morning was that he wasn’t ready quite yet to go.
So far this season, Cousins has not played in a game because of a back injury. It seems as if both Cousins and coach Julien can’t wait. Julien noted about Cousins, “He’s got grit and … some sandpaper to his game. A guy that’s not afraid to go to the front of the net. He showed a lot of good things there in training camp. I thought he had a decent camp. It’s just a matter of time in plugging him in.”
Cousins, who’s from Ontario but has played with Arizona for the last few seasons, signed as a free agent during the offseason. Last season, he set career highs in assists (20) and points (27), playing in 81 games with the Coyotes.
What’s Next for the Montreal Canadiens?
The Canadiens play tonight against perhaps the NHL’s best team – the Tampa Bay Lightning. The Lightning team has been on an extended road trip. Tonight’s game will be their fifth of six games before they return home.
Goalie Andrei Vasilevskiy will be starting in net. Although he let in three goals on 28 shots against the Toronto Maple Leafs, his team’s offense completely overwhelmed the Maple Leafs and he picked up his second win of the season. His team sits now 2-2-1.
The Canadiens are averaging 4.00 goals per game this season, which is fourth in the NHL. Will it be a high-scoring game? I’m guessing not, but I predict the Habs will win tonight 4-2.
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