November 6, 2014

steve laidlaw


The fantasy spin on Fleury’s contract, Parenteau back on the top line and why he belongs there and more.




If I told you that the first period between the Habs and Sabres ended 0-0 would you be surprised? You shouldn't be. These are two of the slowest starters in the NHL having scored a combined seven first period goals, which is as many as the 24th-place Blues.


The Sabres owned that period though, outworking the Canadiens up and down the ice. Heck, they even had PK Subban taking shots on his own net. Thank goodness (for the Canadiens) that Dustin Tokarski was on his game as he has been all season. It also helps that the Sabres have no finishers.


The Canadiens were able to flip things and gain momentum in the second period. I'm not saying that it was necessarily because PA Parenteau was moved back up onto the top line with David Desharnais and Max Pacioretty but look at the results. Parenteau scored the lone Canadiens goal and Pacioretty was able to really get loose firing eight SOG.


Some of that was simply because the Sabres were porous defensively but you'll never be able to talk me out of Parenteau's fit on the line. He's a right-handed shot and he has the skills and hockey sense to keep up with these two. How Parenteau ever wound up on the third line is beyond me.


Having said all that, the best line for the Canadiens was Alex GalchenyukTomas PlekanecBrendan Gallagher. Gallagher was a whirling dervish of forechecking awesomeness. He's a perpetual motion machine, continually churning his legs, bouncing off checks, spinning off defenders, carving, carving, carving his way in a dogged pursuit of the puck. I could watch him all day. It was hilarious watching Gallagher outwork defensemen a full head taller than him of which the Sabres have approximately 100.


All three members of that line managed three SOG and while none of them recorded a point they had a number of near misses.


Again, this was against the Sabres but Canadiens fans surely aren't discriminating. Any progress for this team is a good sign, especially after getting outworked by said Sabres in the first period.


Jiri Sekac had a nice game in his return to the lineup but he took a bad boarding penalty late in the third, which allowed the Sabres to score a tying goal and force this game to overtime. It ultimately went to the shootout thanks to some stout goaltending from Michal Neuvirth. Both goaltenders were awesome in this one really.




The lone Sabre goal was scored by Drew Stafford. It marks just the second power-play marker of the season for Buffalo and yes, Stafford does have both of them. If you are going to own a Sabre, it better be him or Tyler Ennis who assisted on the goal. Ennis has four points in his last four as he perhaps is gaining some steam. I remain unconvinced.




O… M… G. That Wings-Rangers game. WOW! That was fun.


It's probably not a good sign for the team defense of either squad that there was so much end-to-end action with relentless scoring chances. I'm sure Alain Vigneault and Mike Babcock added a few grey hairs watching that one. But as a fan, it doesn't get any better than that. I just want to watch games like that on an endless loop. Either that or stick a probe in the pleasure centers of my brain. The result would be the same.


Rick Nash was the single best player in this game. He was his usual beastly self, driving possession for the Rangers at a high level and drawing penalties. He wound up firing six SOG. Ironically enough, his lone goal came on a shot he didn't even take. Instead, he simply had a Derick Brassard shot bank off his sizable rear end past Jonas Gustavsson. When you're hot, you're hot. But don't worry, Gustavsson got his revenge:



It's time to pay attention to Matt Hunwick. I disregarded the first couple of games of his recent offensive explosion as random chance but it's hard to ignore the ice time he is seeing with all these blueline injuries. He skated over 20 minutes in his third straight game and was second in defenseman power play time with 1:44. He notched two assists to give him five in his last four games. Those are also his only points of the season but if you are in a pinch you could do worse than Hunwick.


He's not a long-term solution though. Once Dan Boyle returns and eventually Ryan McDonagh, Hunwick will get back to healthy scratches and third pairing minutes. But check out this stretch pass to Martin St. Louis. He has some desirable traits.

That has more to do with St. Louis slick abilities than Hunwick's passing but still, take notice.