HABS SWEEP JETS
Written by Fred Arshoff
First of all thanks to Chad Martin for the cover photo and also thanks to Jordan Bouganim for the photo at the bottom of the article.
Secondly I wish to admit I was wrong in my prediction of how many games this series would go. For more information on this please see my article https://montrealsportsblog.wordpress.com/2021/06/02/habs-vs-jets-preview/.
Also when I predicted the series, in my crystal ball, I never saw the hit by Mark Scheifele on Jake Evans. For more information on this please see https://montrealsportsblog.wordpress.com/2021/06/04/mark-scheifele-hit-on-jake-evans/.
I feel the hit on Evans changed the series as the HABS were playing to ravage the Jets, as a team, for the hit on Evans. To paraphrase HABS Captain Shea Weber we will avenge this hit. Weber in his wisdom never said how they would avenge the hit. Instead of going out to injure a Jet player (I’m glad they didn’t) they set in their minds that the best revenge would be to play hockey the way it was meant to be and score goals and win the games fair and square.
Although I criticized the HABS General Manager when he made the trade to bring in Eric Staal, just before the trade deadline, this move has really benefited the team. Staal is providing leadership and using his previous playoff experience to help the younger players. Although Staal is on the fourth line that line has been doing a great job and putting points on the board as well. Also the signing of Corey Perry, who was originally on the taxi squad, has really played well. He was inserted into the lineup mid season when Joel Armia, who had been playing lights out, got hurt. He is also providing veteran leadership with his playing experience. Perry although on the fourth line has six points.
I also complained about the coaching by Ducharme and his assistant coaches but in this series they did all the right things. Such as on defence play the top two pairings the majority of the games and use the third pairing sparingly. The top four of the HABS defence are big and have experience although Petry, due to injury, missed the last game. Moving Kulak up to the top four being a big body solved that problem. This meant the inexperienced defenceman didn’t get as many minutes but against a very physical team, with experience, that is what was needed. Then on the forward side they rolled all four lines so no forwards were tired especially after playing a lot of games in a condensed regular season and so many playoff games and not having many days off to relax.
The special teams also did their job at killing penalties but also scored not one, not two, but three shorthanded goals. That took any momentum the Jets may have got away from them. The penalty kill was 100% and the powerplay was also very effective with 3 powerplay goals.
Then what can anyone say about the play of one Carey Price. As I stated he would be the better goalie in this series and he certainly was. So far in 11 playoff games he has allowed 22 goals (this includes the games against the Leafs, Price’s GAA is an amazing 1.97 his save percentage is .935). He also had 1 shutout against the Jets. When a team sees a goalie is stopping everything it does get into their head and makes them wonder how do I score on him. I will say the big four defence did help Price by keeping him from being screened so he can see all the shots and let’s be honest it’s very hard to stop what you can’t see. What we have seen so far in these playoffs is the vintage Carey Price.
Then there is Tyler Toffoli who is putting up points at an amazing clip. With points in his last six playoff games, this ties him with these former great HAB players. Alex Kovalev in 2004, Mike Camilleri (yes the one who was traded in the middle of a game) in 2010 and P K Subban in 2014. If Toffoli gets a point in the first game of the next series (semi-finals) that would be seven straight games getting points tying him with Saku Koviu. I’d like to thank GM Bergevin for signing Toffoli as a free agent during the offseason. That is one hell of a great pickup.
Next is the play of the three youngsters who are more than pulling their own weight. Two of them didn’t play the first few games against the Leafs but since being inserted have been doing an outstanding job. I’ll start by going with the veteran of the group Jesperi Kotkaniemi, then Nick Suzuki and, last but not least, the youngest of the bunch Cole Caufield.
Then there is Artturi Lehkonen who was inserted, to replace the injured Jake Evans, and has been doing a fantastic job including scoring a shorthanded goal.
There are two take aways from this series. The injury (severe concussion) suffered by Jake Evans and I feel won’t be back until the 2021-22 season at the earliest. If he can come back, as this is his fourth concussion and the Dr’s may say one more maybe fatal. Then there is Jeff Petry with the last two fingers on his right hand dislocated that the Dr’s say will need surgery after the playoffs. Presently Ducharme says he thinks that Petry will be able to play in the early part of the semi finals. I’m hoping so as he is a big part of our defence and I consider him to be the number one defenceman on the team although many consider Captain Shea Weber to be number one but that is a debate for another day.