Happy HumpDay Addicts!!!!
The Canadiens made it five in a row yesterday, with a 3-1 victory against the New York Rangers at Madison Square Garden. Alex Galchenyuk scored the game-winner at 1:48 of the third period on a three-on-one with Brandan Prust and Lars Eller. Suffice it to say that the trio has looked pretty good together since Montreal's head coach, Michel Therrien put them together.
That said, the Habs welcomed Ryan White back in the lineup, and Coach Therrien called upon the much-maligned tough guy late in the third period, as the Canadiens were killing off a late penalty to Tomas Plekanec. With all the faceoff problems the Habs have had so far this season, it was nice to see White get a confidence boost from Therrien after his early season braincramps.
White won that particular draw in the defensive zone cleanly, and it eventually led to an empty net shorthanded goal by Swiss d-man Raphael Diaz on a clearing attempt from his own zone that found the back of the Rangers' net 200 feet away.
The Rangers only goal came in the second period while there was a delayed penalty being called on P.K. Subban for holding. The Rangers maintained possession of the puck, as Subban momentarily complained to the official, which led to Anton Stralman scoring on a mice feed from Derrick Stepan.
The biggest issue with that play was the half-hearted backcheck by Canadiens' veteran winger Erik Cole. Carey Price made a brilliant initial save on Stralman, but because Cole had his feet in cement, the Rangers' forward had ample time to score on his own rebound. That lack of secondary effort by Cole landed him on the bench for the better part of the third period, with only 3:59 TOI.
Since the beginning of the season, Erik Cole has been scrutinized by everyone surrounding the Canadiens. Some question his heart, while others maintain he has a health issue. Some even reference his propensity for starting each season slower than most.
There have been instances were Cole has indeed looked like the player he was last season, when he led the Canadiens in goals with 35, and was a major reason why his linemates, David Desharnais and Max Pacioretty were so effective.
With 33% of the season in the books, and the Canadiens leading the Eastern Conference with 23 points, Cole remains an enigma among an otherwise outstanding group of players. The combination of character and talent has Habs' fans believing that this team can do major damage in the playoffs moving forward. As ineffective as last year's best line has been so far, Pacioretty and Desharnais are beginning to find their groove, while Cole remains behind.
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