Shea Weber Gives Habs Fifth Win In A Row

Photo by Bruce Bennette / Getty Images

Photo by Bruce Bennette / Getty Images

Shea Weber‘s power-play goal gave the Habs a go-ahead, and the win Wednesday night, as the Canadiens beat the New York Islanders, 3-2, in Brooklyn. Al Montoya was outstanding in nets, playing this first game of a back-to-back, making 26 saves on 28 shots.

Played on notoriously poor-quality ice, the game unfolded slowly at first, and became electrifying in the third period. The team continued to press, succeeding in their efforts as the win became clear, and the Habs have now won 5 in a row.

Here’s how it played out.

First Period: Shots 8-6 New York

Another first period, another uneventful, scoreless frame. Al Montoya showed his skill once again, freezing the puck at appropriate times, keeping it in play others.

Other than some good efforts on the part of key players, the period was as unexciting as the scoreboard.

Second Period: Shots 12-5 Montreal

Goals:

  • Paul Byron (Brendan Gallagher, Alexei Emelin), 3:10
  • John Tavares (PPG; Unassisted), 15:17

The second period had just gotten underway when a beautiful play by Brendan Gallagher resulted in the Habs’ first goal, netted by Paul Byron. On a giveaway in the Habs’ zone, Gallagher brought it down the ice, passed it up to Alexei Emelin, who got it back to Gallagher near the net. Passing it over to Byron before he was beaten to it by the Islanders players, his pass hit the mark, and Byron easily shot the puck into the net.

The Habs managed to hold onto their lead until 5 minutes before the period ended, when the Islanders got a power play. When Alexei Emelin failed to clear the puck, John Tavares capitalized on the error, and evened up the score.

The Habs went into the 2nd intermission tied with the Isles.

Third Period: Shots 15-12 New York

Goals:

  • Phillip Danault (Brian Flynn, Shea Weber), 11:21, Shea Weber (PPG; Jeff Petry, Max Pacioretty), 17:03
  • Dennis Seidenberg (Calvin de Haan, Ryan Strome), 14:16

In the third period, the Habs attacked the Islanders’ net with incredible determination, never capitalizing on the plays. Gallagher was tremendous, as was the entire fourth line (Phillip Danault, Brian Flynn, Torrey Mitchell).

Phillip Danault got a go-ahead goal with a loose puck in front of the net, and capitalized beautifully. The puck had bounced in front of Danault on a Thomas Greiss rebound, and with quick reflexes, #24 banged it home.

The Habs enjoyed the lead for all of 3 minutes, when Dennis Seidenberg scored on a one-timer from the point. Screened by Anders Lee, Montoya could not stop the goal, and the game was tied up again.

But when the Habs got a power play, at 16:10, it took Shea Weber less than a minute to score the game winner with an absolute rocket from just inside the blue line. On a pass from Jeff Petry, Weber used his quick release, and legendary shot (clocked at over 100 mph) to blast the puck behind Greiss.

Despite an empty net, and the Habs getting a penalty with under a minute to go, the Canadiens wrapped this one up with a 3-2 win, extending their streak to 5 in a row.

Some Thoughts:

  • This team has now gone 6-0-1 and has not scored fewer than 3 goals every game. Yes, that’s 7 games of 3 goals or more, Habs fans, and it feels pretty good, doesn’t it?
  • The Habs’ fourth line now has 5 goals in 7 games. That’s Danault, Flynn, Mitchell (for those of you keeping track), and it’s a valuable line. When a team has 4 fairly effective lines to roll, it clearly improves performance levels.
  • Paul Byron has 5 points in 7 games. He is a dynamic player to watch.
  • Brendan Gallagher had 7 shots on goal against the Islanders. Not that we needed another reason to love him, but there it is. The second period, where the Habs outshot the Isles 12-5, Gallagher had already amassed 6 shots on goal.
  • Shea Weber has now scored on two power plays, in two games. He was brought on board to improve the power play (which is what we were told over the summer months), and if this trend continues, it may very well lift the Habs to a productive power play. Weber has 9 points this season with the Habs, 3 of them goals, and is an asset to the team.

But let’s talk, please, Habs fans, about the trend we are seeing on social media: P.K. Subban vs Shea Weber.

This is not a contest. No one is keeping score. And for those who are, to prove that somehow the trade should be forgotten along with P.K.? Let it go.

Because the season is new, and we are still getting used to not seeing #76 out there, belting out the anthem, bouncing to begin the game, streaking down the ice with the puck, and smiling like a big kid after a goal or a win.

It’s a conspicuous absence for those who have followed this team loyally. It’s even more conspicuous for those (like myself) who have adored P.K. since he was called up for playoffs that magical year in 2011.

And many of us will never be happy with the trade, because P.K. Subban is bigger than life on and off the ice, and in the hearts of many fans.

But…

That doesn’t mean we’re so disgruntled we are taking it out on Shea Weber, on the team, or somehow refusing to embrace Weber’s role on the blue line. Quite the opposite. We’re loving Weber and his contribution. We’re cheering this team till our throats are raw and our voices are hoarse. We’re saying “Go Habs Go” in everyday conversation, as is a Habs fan’s default position.

To see so many people who gleefully post “P.K. who?” or who keep track on the fly, with each goal or assist scored by both men, is disconcerting. It implies that we cannot be multi-leveled thinkers, or that we cannot have room in our hearts for both players.

It implies that P.K.’s absence is a welcome one – it is not, nor should it be.

In a perfect world, Shea Weber and P.K. Subban would be a defensive pairing for the Montreal Canadiens (if only!). But we have to live with reality.

And the reality is that we do not have to choose. We do not have to compare, or come up with a winner between these two guys. There are people – believe it or not – who can embrace both players; lament the trade, and still embrace the Canadiens as an entire team, every player.

Did I feel slightly disloyal, at first, loving on Shea Weber when he got his first point in the bleu-blanc-rouge? Yup. Emphasis on slightly, because it was an illogical emotion.

It takes getting used to, like any roster change, but on a larger scale. Many of us are put on the defensive when we stand up for Subban’s value. We’re tired of having to do so.

Let’s not start an imaginary cage match between Subban and Weber. They’re two different players, and each effective in his own way.

We can even follow P.K.’s development and storyline as he plays for Nashville (many of us are doing just that), cheer for him and be happy for his successes. There’s nothing wrong with that.

Meanwhile, the Habs are rolling along, steady and successful, and it’s a great start to what we are all anticipating: a fantastic season.

Next game is tomorrow. The Habs will face Tampa Bay, at the Bell Centre.  It will be a challenge, as Tampa Bay is a nemesis, a strong team, and chasing the heels of the top-placed Canadiens. Steel yourselves, but stay optimistic about the Canadiens going into this game. Carey Price will be in nets, and it’s bound to be a good one.

Puck drop is 7:30 – see you tomorrow!

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2 Responses to Shea Weber Gives Habs Fifth Win In A Row

  1. Very well written post and shares many of our feelings exactly! ✔️

    Ned Stark October 27, 2016 at 1:53 am Reply
    • Thanks, Ned – it’s a constant struggle, on social media, trying to defend our feelings about the trade against those who interpret it as anti-Weber sentiments.

      I have a feeling we haven’t seen the last of it either 😉

      Lissa Albert October 29, 2016 at 6:54 pm Reply

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