What is there to say?
Six consecutive penalties is an aberration in a league that tends to even up the calls.
It was an accurate reflection, however, of the Canadiens’ indisciplined play.
Benoit Pouliot, who had finally started flashing high draft choice form in recent games, took two stick calls behind the play and far from his net.
There was a brain fart at the bench, resulting in the Too Many Men call that turned the game around.
Last night on CKAC, Dany Dubé was talking about the most crucial stages of a hockey game:
• The final minutes of a period, when you want to generate some momentum heading into the room.
• The opening minutes of each period, when a team practices what’s been preached in the room and sets the tone for the minutes that are to follow.
Players have to be aware of both situations. They have to bear down, concentrate on the task at hand.
With 11 seconds left in the second period and the score last night, the score was 2-2. The Canadiens had been outplayed and had blown a 2-1 lead, but there was a chance to get off the ice in a tied game and regroup for the final 20 minutes.
That didn’t happen. Jaro Spacek coughed the puck up to Jordan Staal, who beat Carey Price to the short side.
OK, it was only 3-2. Still a game.
But 1:11 into the third period, Pouliot went off for hooking. The Pittsburgh power-play, which had struggled this season with Sidney Crosby in the lineup, got a goal from Alex Goligoski.
It was won by the better team – last night, most nights … except the playoffs and the first two games this season.
Jordan Staal was the best player on the ice.
Marc-André Fleury outplayed Price, earning he right to do some stylin’ as the seconds ticked down.
Goligoski and Kris Letang (with three assists, and the Penguins were lobbying the NHL for a fourth, on the Spacek giveaway) were the scorers, but Pittsburgh got a solid efort from its entire defensive corps, holding he Canadiens to 22 shots.
That’s the fewest at the Bell Centre since Dec. 4, when the Canadiens recorded 19 shots against San Jose. But Fleury doesn’t play for the Sharks, and that paltry total was good enough for a 3-1 win.
Perhaps we shouldn’t draw too many conclusions from a game in which the Caadiens spent so much time in the penalty box.
There was some good play at even-strength. And the crowd enjoyed a long stretch of wide-open hockey during the second period.
Some suggest thatthe Canadiens should play that was more often, that the team’s speedy scorers are shackled by Jacques Martin’s defensive system.
I think opening things up would make for more excitement.
And more Ls.
Your Montreal Canadiens don’t have the horses to play run-and-gun. Specifically, they don’t the defencemen to handle odd-man rushes for 60 minutes.
The Dmen are undersized and, espoecially when Andrei Markov is out of the lineup, they need a five-man effort to clear the zone efficiently against aggressive forechecking.
The Martin system is designed to protect this team’s most valuable asset. Five-man defence minimizes the good scoring chances Carey Price willl face, and if he plays as well as he can, the team has a shot to win.
Any rational assessment of the Canadiens’ roster leads to the conclusion Martin, Pierre Gauthier and Bob Gainey reached:
They don’t have the horses. This just isn’t a team capable of blowing anyone out.
The Canadiens haven’t drafted high enough to get a Cosby or Staal (any Staal!)
They got lucky in the 2005 lottery and moved up to draft in the fifth spot. Ignoring the sage advice of Pierre McGuire – and knowing that José Theodore had issues – Gainey picked Price.
The GM rushed his boy into The Show, with decidedly mixed results. Then Gainey blew up his team, acquiring two veterans who had played on a goalie-centric team, and hired a defence-first coach.
And the die was cast.
Your Montreal Canadiens win when they get superb goaltending and puck support that eases the pressure on an aged, undersized D. If they get that plys good special-teams play, the Canadiens can hold opponents to two goals or fewer. Giving up three is pushing it, because the Candiens don’t score: 25th in the league in Goals For
But only Boston, Nashville and Cancouver have allowed fewer Goals Against. The system has worked to the tune of 24 wins this season, a three-W improvement on the Canadiens’ record after 44 games last year.
But there is little room for error – and no room for brain-dead penalties.
And it doesn’t get any easier when two defencemen and a scoring forward are out of the lineup.
The Canadiens have a team meeting at their Brossard practice facility this morning.
There’s much to discuss.
• • •
Another view, from Number31 in the Comments:
That 6 minutes and 30 seconds of fast, back and
forth hockey was the only awesome part of the game. The teams looked
like they were having fun, the crowd was loving it, the goalies were
making the saves… Habs were skating and for that moment I totally
didn’t see the effects of playing yesterday on them. I could, however,
see JMart’s face gradually flushing.
Then, they forgot how to count.
in all honesty how many times does it need to take for someone to
realize that Spacek on the PK is a bad idea? Especially when you’re
closing a period, and not long after he messed up in that same corner.
Screens his goalie, pulls the Mike Komisarek pass to the slot,
brainfarts with Hamr and tackles his goalie and smacks him in the back
of the head, then ends it off with a great immitation of a perfect
pylon. He wasn’t the only penalty killer that did not help but he was
the standout error on it…
And meh to Fleury. Not exactly a
pose-worthy type of game but whatever. Originality is key though, and he
seems to lack in that category. Get your own damn pose …