The Montreal Canadiens won last night’s game 5-1 against the Winnipeg Jets, and are now leading the series 3-0. They will be looking to sweep the Jets and end the series in Game 4 tonight in Montreal.
The Canadiens are now on a six-game winning streak, and the last time the Habs had that long of a winning streak in the playoffs was in 1993, also known as the last year they won the Stanley Cup.
I’m not saying they are winning the cup this year, as facing the winning team from the West Division will be a huge challenge if they move on to the third round, but as the saying goes, anything can happen in the playoffs.
Now, the Canadiens have already surprised everyone by getting this far and playing so well, and other than Carey Price and a solid defence, their depth has been a huge part of their success.
“We have depth and we’re going to use it,” is what head coach Dominique Ducharme had said during the first round. And they most definitely have been using it.
Not only are we seeing good chances with all four lines, but also production, and that’s what matters the most, after all.
The line with the most points these playoffs is the fourth line, and although it sounds crazy, it’s not that surprising, considering general manager Marc Bergevin brought Corey Perry and Eric Staal to Montreal for this reason, for their playoff experience and production.
Perry opened the scoring with a nice wrap-around goal early in the first period. It has been a huge boost in confidence and momentum whenever the Habs are able to score first, and we saw that again last night. Let’s also note that that’s a goal by a fourth-liner.
It wasn’t until the second period that the Habs were able to double the lead. After many rebounds by Brendan Gallagher, Phillip Danault, and Arturri Lehkonen, it was finally the latter who put the puck in the net. That’s a goal by a second-liner.
Then came the beautiful shorthanded goal by Joel Armia on a two-on-one. It looked like he was going to make the pass to Paul Byron, but then waited to have a clear shooting lane, and sniped the puck into the net. Here’s a goal by a fourth-liner.
Towards the end of the period, Adam Lowry put one in for the Jets to make the score 3-1, and give his team a tiny bit of hope before going into the third period.
But halfway through the third, Nick Suzuki scored on the powerplay, giving Montreal a three-goal lead, from a beautiful pass by Cole Caufield from the side of the net. These two just keep showing everyone why they belong together on that first line. Talking about lines, here’s a goal by a first-liner.
And, of course, the Jets had to try to pull Connor Hellebuyck to try and tie the game. They did it while on a powerplay, to play six-on-four hockey, but Armia scored his second goal of the night, an empty-net goal, which also happened to be, yet another, shorthanded goal. Armia just keeps showing everyone that when he scores, he likes to be extra, with a couple of goals per night. And we’re here for it.
The special units were huge last night for Montreal, scoring one goal on the powerplay, and two on the penalty kill.
To get back to the Canadiens’ depth now, one goal was scored by a first-liner, another one by a second-liner, and three by fourth-liners. That’s depth, and if the Habs can keep using their depth like Ducharme said they would, who knows where that could take them, not only this year, but next season. If Ducharme has the chance to stay as head coach next season, I would love to see how he would use this depth in the regular season. It’s clear the Canadiens have depth, now all it comes down to is if they’re able to use it to produce.
Price, once again made his teammates’ lives easier by stopping almost every shot coming his way, and just being outstanding, as he has been this postseason.
One bad takeaway from Game 3 is that Jeff Petry did not play in the third period because of an upper-body injury. He has been a huge part of Montreal’s defence, so losing him will be noticeable. But this raises the question, who will replace him? Is it finally time for Ducharme to give Alexander Romanov a chance to play in the playoffs? I’m expecting Ducharme to say something about the situation soon enough.
Tonight is also the second of back-to-back games, so seeing some changes in the lineup may not be too surprising. Perhaps, could we see Jake Allen in net instead of Price? To me, the answer is an obvious no, as I don’t think it’s worth risking pulling a red hot Price, to rest him for one game. And if the Habs are able to win tonight, they will be having plenty of rest before the third round starts.