October 30, 2022
Week 3 of the 2022-23 NHL season featured three games for the Montreal Canadiens. On Tuesday night the Minnesota Wild came to town and handed the Habs a 3-1 loss. From there the Habs headed out on a road trip. The first stop was Buffalo for a Thursday night game against the Sabres, and the result was a 3-2 win. The Saturday night match-up was against the St. Louis Blues, and the Habs won a wild one 7-4.
The soundtrack for this week was the theme song from that 70s show “One Day at a Time”.
“I don’t have a plan to retire at this moment. Right now my goal is to just be pain free from day-to-day.” ~ Carey Price
Carey met with the media on Monday and we saw about as much candor as fans have ever seen from a professional athlete. He hasn’t given up hope that he can play again one day, but in his daily life it causes pain to carry one of his children up the stairs. So much of what he said was about being a parent, and wanting a good quality of everyday life. It’s a very big leap indeed from there to the wear and tear a professional athlete’s body takes on a daily basis.
I can’t stop thinking about this one thing Price said. “There’s this outside hope of a miracle happening that I could maybe come back and play at some point. I’ve always been a bit of an optimist so I’m not giving up, and definitely not giving up on winning a Stanley Cup in some aspect – whatever position that would be.”
There’s more than one way to win a cup. I like the idea of him winning in some role some day with the Habs. I like that idea very much. Could this new version of the Habs being built by Kent Hughes and Jeff Gorton have a place for Carey Price as off-ice staff?
In a developmental year, the team we’re watching might change on the daily.
Rob Louis (@robertlouis33) is a Twitter follow I enjoy, and he made a great point on Tuesday. He said the “sense of unknown” was adding to his anticipation of Habs games.
It’s an excellent point. So many new players, so many playing their first professional games. Each game brings a new challenge – new systems, new elite players, new experiences of travel and fluctuating rest and practice time. The inevitable outcome is that how good they look changes daily as the kids react to each new thing. They looked a little rough on Tuesday, but by Saturday they had us out of our seats. There’s no way to be sure what we’re getting from one game to the next.
This is a developmental year, and exposure is essential to development. Young players can never learn to react the right way until they are exposed to situations and have the chance to learn from them. You have to love how much the coaching staff is exposing these kids and letting them learn, even when they’re making mistakes.
The rookie coach is adjusting on a daily basis to create the optimal fit for veteran forwards.
The Habs are just nine games into the season, and already we have seen three occasions where Martin St. Louis juggled his line combos to try and get the most out of veterans. The trio that really shone and stuck all week was Anderson-Dvorak-Gallagher, with both wingers hitting the score sheet on Thursday night while creating multiple chances, and Dvorak scoring the hattrick on Saturday. We all saw that coming.
Much of the focus this season has been on how Marty would coach those young defenders, but he deserves a lot of credit for how he is wresting with a crammed forward group composed of both young, exciting players and veterans who are no longer sure they fit. Getting the most of them may mean finding the right fit on the daily. So far the coach is making it work.
There are some days when Nick Suzuki and Cole Caufield are just going to take over a game, and those days are just going to get more regular.
On Saturday night, the focus was on Dvorak’s third period hattrick. But that only happened after Suzuki and Caufield took control of the game. The Habs were down 3-1, with the second Blues goal coming on a poor defensive effort by Dvorak and the third with Anderson in the penalty box (for seven seconds). The game looked very tilted toward St. Louis.
But then the Habs scored three goals in five minutes, and it got started on a brilliant effort by Suzuki to get a pass to Caufield for the perfect deke finish. Slafkovsky scored on the power play, and then Caufield scored again, also on the power play and once again on a perfect feed from Suzuki. Everyone on the ice knew what Suzuki wanted to do, and no one managed to stop him from finding the seam to get the puck to Caufield for the tap in.
I liked how Dach looked on that line. Maybe eventually it’s Slafkovsky that completes the trio. Perhaps the perfect third is not even in the organization yet. It all seems like a bit of a sub-plot because of how well the duo has performed.
The Captain and the Sniper. They know who they are and they are embracing it. And we get to watch it daily for the next decade or so.
It’s early, and these kids are quite possibly performing way over their heads. Who knows what day they hit a wall, or when they come back down to earth. In the meanwhile, let’s enjoy the most exciting hockey we’ve seen in ages.
“So while you’re here enjoy the view, keep on doing what you do. Hold on tight, we’ll muddle through one day at a time.”