The Montreal Canadiens are off to yet another hot start, winning at least six of their seven first games for the third season in a row. Despite the close score, Wednesday night’s 3-2 win may have been their most convincing of the season with the Canadiens dictating the pace of play through much of the final 40 minutes.
It was a big night for Paul Byron who opened the scoring with his second of the season while playing beside Alex Galchenyuk and Brendan Gallagher. Byron remained there most of the night, finishing with a season high 13:53 of ice time.
As the game wound down, Shea Weber once again came through for the Canadiens, scoring his second Game Winning Goal on the power play with a perfect one-timer blast that beat Thomas Greiss over his blocker, even without much traffic in front of him. Weber leads the Habs with 181:59 minutes played in 7 games (or 425 minutes) of play. Andrei Markov, next on the list, has played over 30 minutes less than Weber.
Sure we’ve been here before, but the Canadiens show every sign of a team firing on all cylinders:
- Both Carey Price and Al Montoya (who has played four of the team’s seven games this season) have been solid in net.
- The Canadiens are outscoring opponents 26-12 through 7 games, and have scored 3 or more goals in each outing.
- Scoring has been coming from all over the lineup, including the fourth line, which chipped in yet again on Wednesday with an important goal.
- Shea Weber has been an absolute force on a Canadiens blueline that has by all accounts exceeded expectations so far this season. Jeff Petry, Andrei Markov, and Alexei Emelin have all looked good early this season, and Nathan Beaulieu has shown signs he’s ready to reach the next level as well.
- To top it all off, the Habs power play has picked up, playing a vital role in the last two wins.
Last night the Canadiens got just one power play opportunity against the Islanders, but that was all they needed. Weber’s point blast was the team’s 5th power play goal of the season in 26 attempts. That gives them a 19.2% success rate. If they can maintain or even improve on these results, it would be a significant improvement over last year’s 16.2% success rate.
Last season’s collapse still looms over the team’s hot start, but judging them just by the on-ice product, October’s Habs bear no resemblance to the team that stumbled across the finish line last April. So while Habs fans (this one included) may still be a bit wary about the team’s early success, there are still plenty of reasons to get excited.