Panthers vs Canadiens: Chasing Wishes and Dreams

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(AP Photo/The Canadian Press, Paul Chiasson)

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Game 2: Florida 1 Montreal 4 (Bell Centre)

By Rick Stephens, All Habs Hockey Magazine

“Sometimes things become possible if we want them bad enough.” ― T.S. Eliot

MONTREAL, QC. — Heading into the Canadiens second game of the season, what were you wishing for?

As a Habs fan, the first win of the season probably topped your wish list. You may have even added that to your Amazon account. Check. ✓

If you welcomed the appointment of Mark Bergevin as the new General Manager of the Canadiens with enthusiasm, then you had to be hoping for his first win as a GM. Check. ✓

“Carey [Price] brought me the puck. It was a gesture that I really appreciated. The first win is always special, but my first thought was for Mark Bergevin. I’ve had first wins before, and don’t get me wrong, it was a great win and I really appreciate it, but it was his first win as general manager of the Montreal Canadiens. I wanted to make sure he got the puck and he was really happy about it.” — Michel Therrien

That leads to two other items that may have been on the wish list of Habs fans. A first win for Therrien in his second stint as head coach of the Canadiens. Check. ✓

And the first win of the season for Carey Price. Check. ✓  Price was the first star against the Maple Leafs and deserved the win. Against the Panthers, Price was named third star and was particularly spectacular when Florida enjoyed a 5-on-3 advantage.

Perhaps you are an Andrei Markov fan and wanted to see him regain his role as the undisputed number one defenseman of the Canadiens. Check. ✓  Markov scored two power-play goals — his last goal came on November 10, 2010. Therrien referred to Markov as the “General” of the Habs defense.

Many fans were disturbed by the way the Canadiens have been pushed around in the past. Montreal outhit Florida 37-19 — Alexei Emelin led the way with nine hits. Check. ✓  When Tomas Fleischmann delivered a questionable hit to Josh Gorges, Ryan White stepped in and taught him that the 2013 version of the Habs will not be abused. Check. ✓

White received 27 minutes in penalties for his troubles with the Panthers enjoying a five minute power-play. No matter, the penalty-killers stepped up to ensure that White’s defense of Gorges didn’t cost the team. Check. ✓

“Ryan White stood up for Josh Gorges, but it’s a fine line between standing up for your teammates and being undisciplined. What I appreciated the most is that the guys rallied to that and made sure they were going to kill the penalty for Ryan White.” — Michel Therrien

Perhaps you are a big fan of the Habs prospects and were hoping to see the kids do well. Brendan Gallagher registered his first career point in the NHL when he assisted on the Canadiens fourth goal. Check. ✓

(AP Photo/The Canadian Press, Paul Chiasson)
(AP Photo/The Canadian Press, Paul Chiasson)

Gallagher’s achievement was overshadowed by the first goal as a pro by 18-year-old Alex Galchenyuk. Check. ✓  The Bell Centre crowd erupted in the second period when the No. 3 pick in the 2012 draft redirected a shot by Brandon Prust. The ovation and Galchenyuk’s celebration haven’t been seen since January 4, 2012 when Lars Eller scored four goals against the Winnipeg Jets.

Oh yes, that Eller guy who was scratched by the coach for no good reason. But let’s not dampen the mood.

Many were hoping that the Canadiens number one line would return to form. Let’s give this one half a checkmark. ½ ✓  Max Pacioretty had two assists and led the Habs with five shots on goal. David Desharnais picked up a second assist but was otherwise ineffective — he was also a dismal 3-for-12 in the faceoff circle.

Given the hype leading up to this game about Florida’s Alex Kovalev and Jonathan Huberdeau, some Habs fans were undoubtedly wishing that the two wouldn’t repeat their opening night performances: both had three-point efforts in a win over the Carolina Hurricanes. Kovalev and Huberdeau were kept off the scoresheet on Tuesday night — both finished the game with a minus-1 rating. Check. ✓

So let’s tally the results. By my count that’s 11 ½ wishes checked off. So get busy Habs fans, the season is young and it’s time to refill your wish list.

All Habs game stars

1. Andrei Markov
2. Alex Galchenyuk
3. Carey Price

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The Canadiens will play their first road game on Thursday night as they head to Washington to meet the Capitals. Tickets for all Montreal Canadiens games are available here!

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4 COMMENTS

  1. Price will be in the Vezina conversation this year. He won’t enjoy the D that names like Lundqvist or Quick will have in front of him but he’ll play along their level.

  2. A lot of things happened in one game – and of course, I had to miss it! Anyways, I like what I’ve heard about this game, let’s just hope the good stuff will last for more than one game! ;)

  3. Desharnais hasn’t looked too good so far and considering he went 3-12 on faceoffs I am beginning to question him as a legit top 2 center. Why not push him to the wing and make Pleks the first line center, Eller on the second line and Galchenyuk on the third. I’d make my lines like this: Pacioretty-Pleks-Gio, Desharnais-Eller-Cole, Bourque-Galchenyuk-Gallagher/Prust, Moen-White-Armstrong/Prust with either Gallagher eventually being sent back down or Armstrong in the press box. I just think Desharnais is too small to handle the role of a center, he has trouble with faceoffs and down low in our own zone.

    • Good comment Jay. Eller certainly deserves a larger role and Plekanec deserves better wingers than he had to put up with last season.

      I agree that Desharnais isn’t well-suited to man one of the top two centre positions. He is too easily knocked off the puck and his lack of footspeed means he can’t separate himself from defenders. Unfortunately, those characteristics would also prevent him from being an effective winger where digging the puck and boardwork is required. Desharnais was very fortunate to be insulated by his two wingers last season but it seems that many teams have now figured out the easiest way to defend the Canadiens top line is to separate DD from the puck before he can dish it to Cole or Pacioretty.

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