Forward lines and defense pairings
Pacioretty – Danault – Radulov
Lehkonen – Galchenyuk – Gallagher
Byron – Plekanec – Shaw
Flynn – McCarron – Mitchell
Markov – Weber
Emelin – Petry
Beaulieu – Benn
David Desharnais, Sven Andrighetto, Nikita Nesterov
That’s three consecutive games that Alex Galchenyuk has been selected the first star. And for two straight games, Galchenyuk has scored the game-winning goal in overtime. It’s fair to say that he is adjusting to the new head coach, just fine, thank you.
Once again, Galchenyuk was on the ice with Max Pacioretty and Alexander Radulov when the goal was scored. Isn’t it time to have this trio together full-time? Pacioretty had the secondary assist while Radulov effectively screened Columbus goalie Sergei Bobrovsky.
With all due respect to the heroics of Galchenyuk, the best player on the ice each and every game since Claude Julien took his place behind the Montreal bench has been Carey Price. In this game, Price earned his third shutout of the season and his 39th shutout of his career.
This was a preview of playoff hockey and Price was in post-season form. Julien spoke about his team learning how to play in tight games, the type of hockey that is just over one month away. Each of the Habs four wins in the Julien regime has needed more than 60 minutes.
In fact, the Canadiens went through the entire month of February without a regulation win. Failing to win a game in regulation in a calendar month hasn’t happened to this franchise since 1940.
That not-so-cheery stat means that there is plenty of work still to be done. But confidence, something that Julien targeted immediately after arrival, is on the mend.
The penalty-kill is already much-improved and has moved above the 80 per cent efficiency mark for the season. Defence has also been a priority for Julien. His adjustments to the pairs has produced a solid top four with Andrei Markov – Shea Weber and Alexei Emelin – Jeff Petry.
The third pair is being remodeled with the help of Marc Bergevin. While Nathan Beaulieu and the newly arrived Jordie Benn were pinned at times in their own end, it was a positive beginning for two players who hadn’t skated together before.
Where Benn really shone was 3:22 on the penalty-kill. Paired with Shea Weber, the two were rock solid while the Canadiens were short-handed.
While the defence is making progress, the Canadiens still only have three players producing offence: Galchenyuk, Pacioretty and Radulov. They can’t be called a line because they rarely play together. The biggest challenge for Julien and his staff is to extract some offence out of the rest of his roster.
Perhaps the general manger will come to the rescue with a gift or two prior to the 3:00 pm. deadline on Wednesday.
▲ Carey Price, Max Pacioretty, Alexander Radulov, Alex Galchenyuk, Shea Weber, Andrei Markov, Alexei Emelin, Jeff Petry, Tomas Plekanec
▼ Artturi Lehkonen, Torrey Mitchell, Brian Flynn, Michael McCarron