No matter how hard we try, the Montreal Canadiens still continue to be the No. 1 story across the NHL after just two weeks of play. They’re the only undefeated regulation team in the league. Their offensive problems have seemingly gone away with the addition of just a few new pieces. Oh and Carey Price is still alive, for now at least.
It’s gotten to the point where we may have to consider that we were all wrong about Montreal’s fate this year. The Canadiens were sure to get a boost with a healthy Price, but the rest of the team looked listless without him last season. The P.K. Subban for Shea Weber deal looked like a downgrade at the No. 1 defenseman position, while their offensive pickups looked marginal at best. Montreal was supposed to get better, sure, but not lead the league 14 days into the season without a regulation loss.
Yet, while Weber continues to blast bombs from the point and the offense rolls over some strong defenses, maybe the most under-looked player in Montreal’s hot start is backup Al Montoya. The Canadiens’ greatest failing last season was their lack of depth at the goaltender position. Now, the case can be made that Montreal wouldn’t be 6-0-1 to start the season without Montoya.
The former Florida Panther has played four of the Canadiens’ seven games, posting three wins and Montreal’s only loss — a shootout contest in Ottawa. Montoya’s numbers are impressively Price-like, with a .955 save percentage to start the year. Montreal has the NHL’s lowest goals per game metric at 1.57, much in part to the play of Montoya.
The Canadiens of last year would likely have crumpled if Price was unable to play the first three games of the season with the flu like he did this season. Instead, their biggest weakness was filled in the offseason and what could have been a middling start turned into the NHL’s biggest surprise.
Sure, there’s no way Montoya and Price will keep this level of play up. The Canadiens will eventually lose a regulation game, as reason and history have us believe. Still, Montreal isn’t leading the NHL two weeks into the year without Montoya’s stellar play in net. No question.
Canadiens 3, Islanders 2
Rangers 5, Bruins 2
Oilers 4, Capitals 1
Ducks 6, Predators 1
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Three things we learned
1. The Bruins need their goaltenders healthy, fast
Poor Zane McIntyre. Thanks to two unfortunate injuries to the Bruins’ normal starting and backup netminders, rookie McIntyre was forced to make his first NHL start against the Rangers on Wednesday. Sadly, the goaltender got zero help as the Rangers scored five straight in their 5-2 beatdown of Boston. Their first goalie call-up, Malcolm Subban, allowed five goals in a loss to the Wild on Tuesday, so Claude Julien’s hand was forced.
After a 3-1 start to the year, the Bruins are now sub-.500 with three straight losses.
2. Want to know the team behind Montreal in the standings? It’s Edmonton.
I’m honestly not sure anyone could have guessed how the first two weeks of the NHL season have played out thus far. Not only are the Canadiens leading the NHL, the Oilers are one point behind them. Like Montreal, Edmonton is benefiting from great goaltending in the form of Cam Talbot. Connor McDavid is racking up the multi-point games. These are not the Oilers of old, people.
Another night, another multi-point game for McDavid. Yawn. He now has four multi-point games in seven tries this season.— Frank Seravalli (@frank_seravalli) October 27, 2016
3. The Predators have some work to do on the road
Wednesday night’s loss in Anaheim was Nashville’s seventh consecutive regular season road loss. The Predators have struck out on the road dating back to last season, March 14 to be exact. For a team that’s been touted highly by many, this slow start and continuation of a trend from last season is troubling.
Dan Girardi got lit up with a high hit from David Pastrnak that earned the Bruins forward a minor penalty. Girardi eventually returned to the game, but with the way the NHL Department of Safety has ruled so far this year, it wouldn’t be surprising to see Pastrnak’s hit get a look.
Clean? Not clean? #RivalryNight https://t.co/qcexUb1R46— NBCSN (@NBCSN) October 27, 2016
Stat of the Night
Shea Weber has nine points in seven games, and is playing some real good defensive hockey while he’s at it.
Shea Weber: 1 point back of league scoring lead. Top 10 in TOI/game. On ice for 1 even-strength goal against in 7 games. #NotElite— Mike Kelly (@MikeKellyNHL) October 27, 2016