3 Habs Takeaways From the Weekend

3 Habs Takeaways Assessed
CALGARY, AB - DECEMBER 22: Phillip Danault #24 of the Montreal Canadiens in action against the Calgary Flames during an NHL game at Scotiabank Saddledome on December 22, 2017 in Calgary, Alberta, Canada. (Photo by Derek Leung/Getty Images)

The Habs and Bruins went to war for the first time this season on Saturday night. This is the first of three match-ups between the two teams in the span of a week. It was a hard fought game by both teams with the Bruins eventually defeating the Canadiens 4-3 in a shootout.

The game, however, was over shadowed by an unfortunate injury to Habs foward Phillip Danault. Danault took a puck to the head on a slap shot from Zdeno Chara and had to be stretchered off the ice. The team later released a statement saying that Danault had stayed in hospital overnight but returned home in the morning. This leads to my first take away from the game.

3 Habs Takeaways

Life without Phillip Danault?

There is no word yet on the severity of the Danault’s injury, or if he will miss significant time. If he does in fact have to miss time, the Habs will be without their number two centre, which is disastrous for a team that is already starved at the position. At practice on Sunday morning, coach Claude Julien had slotted Paul Byron in Danault’s place. Byron has not played much centre over his career, so it will be interesting to see if he leaves him there moving forward. Nikita Scherbak has been lights out for the Laval Rocket in the AHL and would be first in line for a shot with the big club. With so few options to fill Danault’s role, could this be a time where Jacob De la Rose steps up and shows his worth to the Canadiens?

Instant chemistry between Galchenyuk/Drouin/Hudon

The line of Alex Galchenyuk, Jonathan Drouin and Charles Hudon were dangerous almost every time they stepped on Saturday night. Drouin set up Galchenyuk’s powerplay goal, the second time in as many games. All three are very fast and highly creative players, and bring a different aspect to the game which every player can feed off of.  With Hudon’s work ethic and ability to win puck battles, Drouin’s vision and play-making abilities, mixed with Galchenyuk’s knack for putting the puck in the net, the Habs might finally have a legitimate scoring line. At the very least, this line will be very entertaining to watch.

Victor Mete’s strong play

Victor Mete looked like a veteran in the Bruins game. He logged 17:35 minutes of ice time and 2:38 minutes on the powerplay, finishing the night with an assist and a +2 rating. In overtime, he could have possibly had the game on his stick but elected to pass rather than shoot. The play was broken up by the Bruins defender, but Mete still managed to be the first one back into the defensive end and stop the Bruins from scoring. This was a huge effort for the Habs defender who was returning to the line-up for the first time since being loaned to Team Canada for the World Junior Championships in Buffalo, where the team won a gold medal. Look for him to build off this game, and be a key player for the Habs down the stretch.

The Canadiens have a big week ahead of them playing four games, all against Eastern Conference teams and two against division rival Boston. This week could make or break the Habs season and determine whether they will be buyers or sellers at the NHL Trade deadline in February.

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