About last night …

PriceBeachball

Soil the linen on Fan Appreciation Night, as your Montreal Canadiens did, losing 5-1 to Washington at the Bell Centre Saturday, and you face the coach’s excoriation morning.
Michel Therrien has called an 11 a.m. Sunday practice at the Canadiens’ training facility in Brossard.
This may seem excessively punitive.
The Canadiens have played five games in eight nights.
They face a three-game road trip to wrap up the regular season.
But Therrien, who is no longer worrying about what suit he’ll wear to accept the Jack Adams Trophy, is running out of coaching strategies.
Therrien has shuffled his lines and his defence pairings.
He’s pulled his starting goaltender in successive games – the first time that happened in Carey Price’s career.
Nothing seems to help.
And if the Tampa Bay Lightning hadn’t hit two goalposts and a crossbar Thursday night, the Canadiens would be death-spiralling through a five-game losing streak.

What are they going to practice on Sunday?

The power play?

Most definitely. After scoring once with six man advantages against the woeful Lightning, the Canadiens were 0-for-5 against Washington … which came into the game with the NHL’s 28th-ranked penalty kill.

The Caps’ PP is a different story. It’s first in the NHL, and the Caps scored twice in three opportunities against the Canadiens.

So yes, the lads will be working on the PP – and probably the PK – on Sunday.

And over in a corner of the practice rink, goaltending coach Pierre Groulx will be trying to restore the bruised and battered confidence of his star pupil.

Fans who read Hockey Inside-Out regularly know I’m a big Carey Price fan. But there’s no sugarcoating what we’ve seen for the last two weeks. The numbers don’t lie: Price is 1-5 with a GAA of 4.91 and a save percentage of .868.

With the exception of a 32-save, goalpost-aided effort against the Lightning, Price has been awful. And what’s made it worse is he’s been awful early, setting a morbid tone for sad evenings.

Last Saturday in Toronto, Tyler Bozak scored two minutes into the game and Leo Komarov made it 2-0 six minutes later en route to a 5-1 Leafs romp.

Against Philadelphia on Monday, Wayne Simmonds and Erik Gustaffson had the Flyers ahead within six minutes.

The Canadiens were riding a 5-0 shot advantage against the Caps when Alex Ovechkin seized on a P.K. Subban wrister to snap one through Price’s pads. A few ticks over a minute later, Troy Brouwer made it 2-0.

OK, Price wasn’t beaten by a couple of pluggers like Travis Moen and Colby Armstrong. Ovechkin leads the Maurice Richard Trophy race with 30 goals and Brouwer has 20.

But a successful team needs big stops, especially at the stage when the tone of the game is being set.

Against the Senators Saturday night, James Reimer made 49 saves in the 4-1 that clinched a playoff appearance for the Leafs. Reimer made 18 saves in the first period while his teammates were directing five shots at Craig Anderson. Shots were 17-9 Ottawa in the second period, 15-8 in the third.

That’s clutch goaltending … and we’re not seeing it in Montreal.

The 2-0 deficits that are becoming customary – Peter Budaj was beaten early in Pittsburgh – have a deflationary impact on the Canadiens … the more so because they’re not used to it. Through their first 40 games, the Canadiens opened the scoring 28 times.

Ah, but that was then. And if what’s happening now is an indicator of what we can expect in the merry month of May …

What’s happened to the Canadiens?

As much as you’d like to see him stand on his head and singlehandedly drag the Canadiens out of the doldrums, you can’t hang the slump totally on Price.

The defence is a shambles. Andrei Markov is a liability at even strength, and Josh Gorges is is losing puck battles and making poor decisions.

The forwards aren’t helping their beleaguered D. We aren’t seeing the five-man backchecking swarms and the crisp, efficient zone clearances that carried the team to their dizzying heights of the Eastern Conference standings.

The Canadiens’ difficulties on the back end have sabotaged the  speedy transition game that Steve Ott praised when the Canadiens beat the Sabres 5-1. The Canadiens rarely generate any speed through the neutral zone, and they’ve become an ineffectual perimeter team in the attacking zone.

The stat sheet says Braden Holtby faced 36 shots, as every skater except Rene Bourque had at least one SoG. But the Washington goaltender had an easy night. His teammates blocked 22 shots, and Holtby rarely had to handle the deep-slot, wide-open looks that Price and Budaj seem to confront in every game lately.

Every team goes through adversity, and the Canadiens have a week to get their poop in a group and build up some momentum heading into the postseason.

Imagine if playoff seeding comes down to next Saturday’s game at the Air Canada Centre. Price vs. Reimer, and the winner opens the playoff series at home.

Will the loser hold a Sunday practice?

• And to depress you further:

447 Comments

  1. smiler2729 says:

    Making the playoffs is fun, anything can happen, let’s just enjoy ourselves and quit micro-armchairGMing.

    Betcha Plekanec is traded this summer…

    _______________________________________
    Jack Edwards is a clam.
    Gary Bettman is a bobblehead.

  2. Buzz Lightbeer says:

    Usually a good sleep would take away the sting of a loss. But this is beyond a loss. What’s happening now seems to be something on a cosmic level. Like someone waved a magic wand and filled their legs with concrete. Are we all being over dramatic or does anybody else remember a team falling apart this quickly? I don’t buy the “our high tempo style has wore us down” excuse. Wore us down overnight? There are other teams that play a much higher tempo than us. Watch a Blackhawks game.
    Oh well,not much we can do now but hope,PVR the games and keep our fingers on the FF button.
    It really stings for me because i will be flying into Montreal on the 2nd for the first two playoff games. Which right now looks like they could be the last two as well.

  3. CHicoHab says:

    I’m not happy Price has been awful lately. But Habs as a whole 4th overall and people still complaining.

  4. CHicoHab says:

    Ribeiro has been all over the place. Keeps getting moved. So who cares how he would look in a Hab sweater.

    • Brinkley says:

      Neither am I worried about Riberio – just that his 47 points in 45 games would easily make him the leading scorer on the Habs, something the HABS could use!

      The fact that he is the second leading scorer on a team that has way more talent than the Habs speaks for itself.

      The rason some fans are concerned about the 4th place Habs is because fans know that if the Habs had played all season at the level they are currently playing – they would be competing for a draft lottery pick – and if this level of play continues, they would be challeneged to defeat the Panthers in a 7 game series!

  5. Brinkley says:

    In my humble opinin (and as much as I have liked it) – the Habs have enjoyed the results of exceeding realistic expectations for most of this season.

    Comparing Habs roster to the talent levels of the Bruins, Pens, Hawks and a healthy Sens team – there simply is no comparison.

    When the Habs were winning, it was easy to overlook the damage done by the previous managent regimes. How would guys like Riberio and Ryan McDonagh look in a Hab’s jersey right now?

    Then again if the Habs would have done their scouting/drafting home work they could have had Giroux instaed of Fisher and of course a number of possible gems in 2003 instead of Andre Kositisyn and Cory Urquhart et al.

    And the beat goes on.

    I do have faith in Bergevin – but inheriting an organization that is paper thin in the depth of talent – he will need some time to clean up
    the mess he inherited.

    GO HABS

    • Mike Boone says:

      I couldn’t agree with you more. Bergevin will fix things, but it will take time. Fans have to be patient – a virtue that is rarer than hen’s teeth among Canadiens fans.

      Mike Boone
      Hockey Inside/Out blogger

  6. Danno says:

    New threat thread

    ________________________________________

    “Hey Richard, two minutes for looking so good!”
    Updates, highlights & great discussions on all things Habs

    • Bill says:

      The overwhelming consensus is that he should Make Sure No Goals Are Scored. Just, like, stop the puck no matter what.

      Ovechkin all alone in the slot? Stop it. Deflected shot through a screen. Just stop it. Backstrom unmolested in the crease taking a perfect cross-crease pass? Stop that too.

      Apparently it’s pretty simple.

      Full Breezer 4 Life

  7. habzfan2003 says:

    Come on Florida… How bout a SOG by’….

  8. Bill says:

    What’s with the video of Tinordi losing a decision to Maggio? He took some shots for sure but he hung in there, and that Maggio kid looks like a pretty serious fighter.

    I would be depressed if I only liked Tinordi for his fighting, but since I don’t care about his fighting, I’m not too worried about it. If you want to post something depressing, maybe there is some video of him playing like the Habs’ D has played lately … but I sure hope not.

    Full Breezer 4 Life

    • DDO_Habs_Fan says:

      Agreed. I wrote earlier they should post a video of Moen skating around doing nothing…now that’s depressing.

      “You’re always, always, always looking to make your team better. Always.”- Marc Bergevin

  9. showey47 says:

    Why is anybody surprised? You took out the one big body we had in drewiske and replaced him with 2 under sized dmen. Can someone tell me why drewiske was chosen to sit? This goes from last saturday in toronto up to but no including last night against the caps.

    subban 2pts -1
    markov 1pt -5
    bouillon 0pts -5
    gorges 0pts -2
    drewiske 3 pts +2

    • makka83 says:

      No one player is the cause of this. There are certainly more people to blame than others. Like Price for example. he is more to blame than others just because he has the most responsibility. But Drewiske is a #7 Dman. If taking him out is our issues then we have a problem.

      • showey47 says:

        Of course there are others to blame.Everybody has to be held accountable and be better. Point is,MT took the 1 defenceman who was still productive during the very worst part of the habs season and put him in the pressbox. The lineup MT iced last night gives us the same problem as last year on defence with too many undersized,unphysical defencemen. It’s fair to say drewiske was brought in to be a # 6 or 7 dman,but he is outplaying at the very least gorges and bouillon and deserves to be playing.

  10. fastfreddy says:

    Here’s the problem I’m having with people suggesting we relax before the play=offs because the Habs will pick it up! I don’t think this team is capable of flicking a switch and pay better, they’re not the Penguins. I’m worried that this team has used up all their bullets for the reg. season and no amo for play-offs. I hope I’m wrong!!!!!!

    CH = Les Glorieux!!!

  11. BJ says:

    Boston 1 Florida 0 end of first.

  12. Small_Town_Boy says:

    People want Carey to show “emotion”. What kind are you refering to?

    Dat’s wha me tinks

  13. makka83 says:

    We can blame players all we want but when EVERYONE is playing like crap. You have to blame the coach. He has to get them ready for the playoffs. He has to change the game plan or tweak it. Easier said than done but that’s reality.

  14. Skeptical says:

    We can look at Price not being at his best right now. I agree 100% The bottom line the teams beating us right now is playing better overall.

    People look at the standings. It don’t mean anything when you play a team that’s playing better.

    Habs are in 2nd place because they played better than Washington and Toronto earlier. Right now These two teams are playing better.

    Believe it or not. The Habs will have their hands full to beat either of these teams in the playoffs.

    If they lose to Winnipeg and New Jersey this week. Their playoff run will be a short one. Could very well be a first round EXIT.

    In one sense I am disappointed. In another. moving up from 15th to 2nd in the Eastern Conference is a big accomplishment although it was a short season …..

    • Bill says:

      Price needs to be better. Up until a week and a half ago he was playing well, and his stats were right around his career average. Then the wheels fell off for him and seemingly everyone else.

      For Price to improve, the rest of the team needs to perform better too. If they continue to play like they do, the goalies are probably going to keep giving up a lot of goals.

      In that dressing room, the players know that Price is struggling, but they also know a lot of it is on them, and that if they all raise their game back to where it was, these early deficits are going to stop happening.

      Full Breezer 4 Life


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