Columbus Blue Jackets: Staring Down The Barrel – A Winning Habit

MONTREAL, QC - FEBRUARY 28: Max Pacioretty #67 of the Montreal Canadiens takes a shot on goal Sergei Bobrovsky #72 of the Columbus Blue Jackets in the NHL game at the Bell Centre on February 28, 2017 in Montreal, Quebec, Canada. (Photo by Francois Lacasse/NHLI via Getty Images)
MONTREAL, QC - FEBRUARY 28: Max Pacioretty #67 of the Montreal Canadiens takes a shot on goal Sergei Bobrovsky #72 of the Columbus Blue Jackets in the NHL game at the Bell Centre on February 28, 2017 in Montreal, Quebec, Canada. (Photo by Francois Lacasse/NHLI via Getty Images) /
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Tonight, the Columbus Blue Jackets take on the Montreal Canadiens in a matchup that usually would feature two of the very best goaltenders on the planet. But without Carey Price in net, the Habs are in a different spot than they usually are.

The Columbus Blue Jackets have a date with the Habs tonight in Montreal for the first meeting of the season between the two clubs. Last season’s first game between the two was something to remember. A 10-0 win for the CBJ made it the biggest win of the season and one of the most one-sided games in the history of the NHL.

Although we don’t expect that to happen again tonight, it should be an interesting game to see where the Canadiens are in respect to the Jackets. The CBJ have struggled in the past five games, only winning once in that time. Conversely, the Canadiens are pretty hot heading into the game despite Carey Price out with injury.

Ahead of tonight’s game, we talked with AWinningHabit.com site expert Omar White to ask him about some of the Habs’ biggest players and how he expects tonight to go. Check out Omar’s work. He’s such a hard worker and he definitely deserves the recognition.

Luke: Who's got the dirtiest mouth on the CBJ?

We asked BoltsByTheBay.com a few weeks ago about Jonathan Drouin‘s departure with the trade, so how do you feel about the trade now that we’re about a fifth of the way through the season? How differently do you feel now than you did when the trade went down?

OW: It’s easy for you to look at Mikhail Sergachev’s numbers as a Habs fan and think, “Oh man, we messed up.” My thoughts on the trade haven’t changed from when it first happened; it was a win for both teams. The Montreal Canadiens got a young star who they can continue to add pieces around while the Tampa Bay Lightning strengthened their blue line with Sergachev.

Drouin has been fantastic for the Habs so far, and has surprised me at least in how well he’s been on both ends of the ice. Face-offs are still a problem for him, but that will improve in time. The Habs knew what they were giving up in Sergachev, but it might be difficult to picture this team without Drouin right now. I can’t say that he’s a clear-cut number one center in the league, but he’s on his way to becoming that.

Carey Price has been a big talking point this season due to the slow start. What do you think of that whole situation?

OW: Well for one, everyone definitely needed to take a collective breath. Yes, Price was giving up a lot of un-Price-like goals, and that’s on him. John Tortorella had that great line a few years ago, “It would be nice to get a save,” and you wouldn’t expect that to be used in the same sentence of Price, but that was the reality at the time. However, the team in front of him didn’t make it any easier while they were going through that slump.

For now, Charlie Lindgren has been holding down the fort which is allowing Price to take the time he needs to get back to 100% both physically and mentally. We all know what he’s capable of, and he’ll return to that soon enough.

Luke: Lukas Sedlak: The Offense's Missing Link

Alex Galchenyuk will probably always be talked about as a possible trade asset. What would you want in return for him?

OW: Haha! Nothing because I don’t want the Habs to trade him. All jokes aside, it does seem Galchenyuk always has one foot out of the door. He’s a young skilled forward, with speed and incredible vision. Unfortunately the Habs aren’t playing him in the position where I and a lot of others think he’s best at being the center, but he can generate a lot of offence on the wing.

That being said, if Montreal decided to trade him, you’d want a center or a top pairing defenseman going the other way. You’re probably thinking, “Duh, what team doesn’t want that?” but those are the two positions Bergevin will want to improve. It wouldn’t be surprising to see a Drouin type trade but reverse.

What’s the strength of this Canadiens team?

As of late, goaltending with how well Lindgren has been. Overall, the Montreal Canadiens are a pretty hard forechecking team. They can get the puck in deep into the zone and have players on every line (e.g. Andrew Shaw, Paul Byron) who can work the boards and get it to the more skilled forwards to score. Additionally, each line has it’s own offensive weapon who have been contributing lately save for the fourth line. Then there are those have been doing both such as Brendan Gallagher.

Espy: Is 11 forwards and 7 defensemen the best option?

And what would you say is the weakness?

If you were asking me this question at the beginning of the season, I’d say finishing on their scoring chances. Their main weakness right now has to be on the blue line. Victor Mete surprised a lot of people by making the team out of camp, and Shea Weber is Shea Weber, but there have been a lot of game-costing errors from the rest of that group. Additionally, it is missing that puck moving ability it had last season.

What’s your prediction for tonight’s game?

This is going to be a pretty physical game to say the least. As for a prediction… I’ll say 2-1 overtime win for the Habs and Galchenyuk gets the game-winner.