For the second time this season (including those 8 games that don’t count), I was privileged enough to watch our beloved Dallas Stars square off against the religion known as the Montreal Canadiens. For the second straight time, I was not disappointed. After jump are my thoughts from Section 321 of the Bell Centre, I hope you enjoy.
First, you must know that watching a hockey game in Montreal is unlike any other venue on the planet. The fans here literally live and breathe the Canadiens and do not like when other teams embarrass their cherished players. That said, if the result is more a testament to their players’ lack of effort, the fans surely let them hear it as well.
Coming into the game I really wasn’t sure what to expect from our boys; fresh off a paltry 3-5-2 record in their past 10 games, I wasn’t feeling very confident even against the dwindling Habs. Lucky for us, our boys put together a very complete game; one which they should be proud of IF they carry this momentum forward. Make no mistake about it; we were the better team tonight, however the Habs were also terrible.
First, let me praise the good that was spread around the ice tonight through Dallas Stars colours. Ryan Garbutt is a kid I can really get behind. He embodies the now famous "hard to play against" mantra. I noticed him every time he was on the ice and that surely says something about him considering his 4th line status. He had energy, played quite well defensively and boy does he have a snipe of a shot. All in all, the entire 4th line played very well tonight and made me proud.
Tomas Vincour was literally everywhere on the ice. My friend who doesn’t know Dallas at all asked in the second period "who is that number 81? He’s flying everywhere." Vincour was great at both ends and definitely deserved a goal (sound familiar?). Lucky for him, he snagged an assist on a half hearted Tom Wandell shot that embarrassingly beat Carey Price. Overall though, it was a great performance from Mr. Vincour.
The Fin, aka Kari Lehtonen, put on an absolute clinic tonight; something that made the goaltender in me very happy I spent above my budget on tickets. He didn’t have to be stellar all game, but when he was called upon numerous times during the PK, he stood tall and made monstrous saves. He reflected the early season Kari we have grown to know and love.
Mike Riberio scored. He didn’t dazzle, but he made a few nice dekes throughout the game put away a beautiful pass from Trevor Daley which made every Dallas fan in the arena cheer. It was great to see.
Now for the not so great. Make no mistake, the Montreal Canadiens are an absolutely horrible team. If it weren’t for Carey Price, the score would have been much more lop sided (although realistically, it also should have only been 2-0). The good part was, our boys didn’t fall to the Habs' level as they have been known to do in the past. They certainly didn’t play a perfect game, but they played well enough to control the majority of puck possession and thwart most offensive attacks.
The most concerning aspect of tonight’s game to me was the play of Loui Eriksson. I know he isn’t the fastest skater in the world, but he was slow, didn’t have the defensive jump he usually does and just plain looked off his game. Now, everyone has bad games, but I couldn’t help but wonder if he’s battling something right now. Here’s hoping he silences my criticism with a goal or two against the Hawks.
Adam Pardy started the game with a few OK shifts and then made me wish he never touched the puck again. He made 1 very good defensive play in the first though, so I guess I should focus on the positives, right?
The boys need to be more disciplined. They took some terrible penalties, all of which were deserved; the PP opportunities were 5-1 for a reason. That said, the PK was marvellous for the most part and when they weren’t, Kari bailed them out. On the other side, even though the PP was only given one opportunity, it was the usual (sigh).
In the end our boys played as complete game as you could ask to start a road trip. However, they absolutely have to continue this forward against the Blackhawks. The unfortunate part is, if they play the way they did tonight against the Hawks, they’ll probably lose. Yes we were the better team, yes we had great goaltending and yes we dominated puck possession; but a large reason for that was because the Habs were just not good at all. Stay happy and relish the win boys, but stay focused. We have a playoff spot to catch.
My three Stars for nostalgia purposes:
- Mike Riberio
- Kari Lehtonen
- Tomas Vincour
My three Stars from a performance standpoint:
- Kari Lehtonen
- Tomas Vincour
- Ryan Garbutt
Side note: I’m not trying to bring down the spirits following a win. I am ecstatic with the dub, but I’m just providing a realistic evaluation from the upper bowl. I hope someone enjoys reading it or at least takes something away from it :).