by Chris G, Senior Writer, All Habs Hockey Magazine

LAVAL, QC. — The Canadiens won two of the three games they played this week by beating the Flames and the Bruins, while playing their worst game of the season on Thursday night in Buffalo.

The Habs are back in town for a three-game home stand that gets underway on Tuesday night against the Dallas Stars, and then Alex Ovechkin and the Washington Capitals come in town, and on Saturday night, division rivals Tampa Bay Lightning visit the Bell Centre.

Here are my top 5 takes of the week:

      1. Price milestone – Saturday night’s win against the Bruins was a big win for Carey Price. Not only it was his first shoutout since November 25th, 2017, it was career win 290, which places him second in team history for wins. Price is now 25 wins shy of tying the franchise record that is held by Jacques Plante. If all goes well, he will achieve this accomplishment before the end of the season. The Hockey News recently published their Top-100 goalies of all-time, and Price was ranked 27th on their list. He’s second amongst active goalies, only behind Rangers goalie, Henrik Lundqvist. Regardless of how the hockey world feels about the Canadiens goaltender, certain fans seem never seem to appreciate Price, and I did see several fans this week mention that he isn’t better than Patrick Roy, because of the number of Stanley Cups. Last time I checked, hockey is a team sport. I’m not going to debate which one of the two goalies is better, because they are both great.
      2. Domi’s hot start – When Alex Galchenyuk was traded in exchange for Max Domi, my criticism was that the Canadiens traded away a valuable asset and didn’t acquire a centre. Ten games into the season, Domi has proved me wrong. He has scored 5 goals in 11 games, and is currently on a six game point streak. Max hasn’t taken a shift off and has been using his speed to create scoring opportunities. Domi along with his line mates Jonathan Drouin and Artturi Lehkonen have been dangerous and forced their opponents to watch this line closely. One thing that is certain, Domi-at-centre has already been more successful than the Drouin-at-centre experiment was at any point last season.
      3. Good starts  – The Habs have scored 27 of their 32 goals in the first two periods, while allowing 16 goals to their opponents through the first 40 minutes of play. Through Saturday’s games, 27 goals-for places them third in the NHL behind the Washington Capitals and the Pittsburgh Penguins, that have scored 28 each. The Habs have been involved in the lowest scoring third periods in the NHL as they have scored five goals and allowed seven through 10 games. Is the significant drop in scoring in the third period caused by fatigue? It will be interesting to observe, if the Habs use of their speed and applying pressure leads to fatigue and injuries as the season goes on.
      4. Faceoffs – Through Saturday’s games, the Canadiens were ranked 30th in the NHL  with a 45.2 percent face-off win percentage. It is surprising that they have a 6-2-2 record, considering that they have begun 55% of the plays without the puck. Jonathan Drouin leads the team with 53.3 percent (minimum 30 face-offs), which is surprising considering last season, he had a horrible 40.2 percent success rate. Drouin has been excellent in this category on the power play by winning 78.6 percent of his face-offs and is the worst on the team during even strength with 28.6 percent. That could be explained with him usually taking face-offs against opponents top centres after his line-mate has been thrown out of the face-off circle. Philip Danault is the only other centre of the team that has won over 50 percent of their face-offs. This is a part of the game that the team needs to work on if they want to keep up their winning ways.
      5. Pocket schedules – La Presse’s Richard Labbe reported on Twitter this week that the Canadiens didn’t publish pocket schedules for the first time. This is probably a non-story for most fans, but I remember as a kid going to all the stores in my neighbourhood to get a schedule or two to bring home. Alright, if I only had one or two pocket schedules in a season, it was a bad year for me. With all the available technology, we should expect all teams across the NHL to eliminate them. There’s no statistics available to how many teams still publish them, but I was in Winnipeg last week, and I came back with two Winnipeg Jets and three Manitoba Moose pocket schedules. I will probably not even look at them throughout the season, but the kid in me made me bring some home. Some things never change.

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