Forward lines and defense pairings
Pacioretty – Danault – Radulov
Lehkonen – Galchenyuk – Gallagher
Byron – Plekanec – Shaw
Andrighetto – Desharnais – Mitchell
Markov – Weber
Emelin – Petry
Beaulieu – Nesterov
Michael McCarron, Brian Flynn, Greg Pateryn
Get used to the term incremental progress. Slowly, probably too slowly for the liking of fans, Claude Julien is fixing the very broken Canadiens team that was handed to him from the previous head coach. Installing a new system may come with setbacks and even cause leaks elsewhere. But there are some positive signs that the Habs are headed in the right direction.
Start with enthusiasm. The celebration following Carey Price’s save on Auston Matthews and Andrew Shaw’s overtime goal tell you that the spark has returned. The Canadiens are motivated to play for each other again. And their effort level has been ramped up significantly since the coaching change.
A new first pairing was unveiled for Saturday night’s game. It is the one we have been calling for, for quite some time, with Andrei Markov alongside Shea Weber. Markov has been the Canadiens best defenceman since the arrival of Julien, and with Weber, the pair were solid against the Maple Leafs.
Put Alex Galchenyuk with Max Pacioretty and good things happen. The duo was on the ice for both regulation goals with Galchenyuk and Pacioretty each picking up a marker. Galchenyuk centred the second line with Brendan Gallagher and Artturi Lehkonen on his wings for the majority of the game but it appears that the transition to the top line is in progress.
The rehabilitation project that is Andrew Shaw is underway. Shaw has embraced having a more well-defined role and has even improved his discipline. Shaw’s determination on the winning goal is what Habs fans expected to see from day one. Better late than never.
But once again, this game belonged to Carey Price. Shaw would not have had the opportunity to play overtime hero if not for the spectacular goaltending of Price. Three stars aside, Price was the single most important reason for this Canadiens win. And a historic personal win for him, with Price moving past Ken Dryden to sit third on the Canadiens list of goaltender wins with 259.
▲ Carey Price, Shea Weber, Andrei Markov, Max Pacioretty, Artturi Lehkonen, Tomas Plekanec, Andrew Shaw, Alex Galchenyuk
▼ Phillip Danault, Jeff Petry, Alexei Emelin, David Desharnais