“They take a lot risks, a lot of chances,” Eller said. “They’re a little all over the place. There’s not a lot of structure always in their game.”
In his comments after Edmonton’s 4-3 win, Eakins called out Eller by name, suggesting strongly that young players should keep their mouths shut.
“When you have a player like Lars Eller running his mouth before the game, it makes for great banter in our dressing room and great motivation,” Eakins said. “So, we thank Lars Eller for his comments before the game. Awesome.”
The children-should-be-seen-and-not-heard view was echoed by Canadiens coach Michel Therrien.
“He’s a young player, and he’ll learn from it,” Therrien said. “They were inappropriate comments.”
So scratch Lars Eller as a source of interesting information.
He’ll be guarded in his remarks for the rest of the season … maybe for the rest of his career.
If Eller were speaking candidly, he might want to ask Eakins why his grievously insulted Oilers – who surely knew about the inflammatory “junior team” quote before the puck was dropped – were outshot 14-8, outhit 11-9 and lost 15 of 18 faceoffs in the first period.
Perhaps with his team trailing 2-0 after 20 minutes, Eakins stormed into the room and roared: “You’re playing like Lars (expletive deleted) Eller says you do.”
Eller might want to ask his own coach why the Canadiens have blown 2-0 and 3-0 leads against Edmonton and Columbus, respectively.
And why they suck in the second period this season – outscored 9-6 and outshot in seven of nine games.
Even in their best games this season, the wins in Vancouver and Winnipeg, the Canadiens have taken their foot off the gas pedal after 20 minutes. They got away with it against the Blue Jackets, but the lapse was costly on Tuesday night.
Given life when Ales Hemsky was left shockingly unmarked and beat Carey Price from a sweet spot in the slot, the Oilers added three unanswered goals and outshot the home team 24-18 over the final 40 minutes. The Oilers also outhit the Canadiens 23-14 over the final two periods.
The Canadiens were leading 2-0 midway through the second period when, during a TV timeout, the scoreboard flashed a shot of Roman Hamrlik in the stands. The Bell Centre crowd gave the veteran defenceman, who announced his retirement this week, a warm and sustained ovation.
As well they should. Hamrlik gave the the Canadiens yeoman service, particularly during Andrei Markov’s prolonged absences.
There were times, as the energetic Oilers buzzed around Price’s net, when the Canadiens could have used good ol’ number 44 to steady the defence corps … and I don’t mean Davis Drewiske.
P.K. Subban was on the ice for six goals – three by the Canadiens and three by Edmonton. The Oilers were not as successful as Nashville in containing P.K. who, as usual, made enough superhuman plays to fill a highlight reel and lift the spirits of Bell Centre fans who wonder why it costs $150 to watch Travis Moen.
Once again, Francis Bouillon had to play unreasonable minutes: 16:48. Hamrlik used to play upwards of 26 minutes when Markov was out, but the Bull is not a Hammer. Bouillon ended the night as the only Canadien at minus-2.
To be fair, the Canadiens didn’t lose because of Francis Bouillon … or Lars Eller. The latter took some big hits from vengeful Oilers and still led all Canadiens forwards in ToI, at 19:13, while dishing out a couple solid checks of his own and winning 12 of 16 faceoffs.
The new line of Tomas Plekanec, Brian Gionta and rookie Michaël Bournival had 12 of the Canadiens’ 32 shots. But Pleks and Gionta were on the ice for the Jeff Petry and Ryan Jones goals that put Edmonton in front to stay.
Ryan White was a monster on draws, 10-2. He and rookie Patrick Holland, playing his first NHL game, were effective as fourth liners and penalty-killers.
Brendan Gallagher scored his fifth goal. He’s tied with Phil Kessel, Pavel Datsyuk, Steven Stamkos, Evander Kane, Jeff Carter, James van Riemsdyk and Corey Perry – none of whom endure the physical pounding to which Gallagher is subjected by Edmonton and every other team the Canadiens face.
Alex Galchenyuk was on the ice for the Ladislav Smid and Jeff Petry goals that got Edmonton back into the game. He had some sweet moves in the offensive zone, but the kid gets lost from time to time in his own end. Blame it on his youth. Galchenyuk will get better.
Will David Desharnais get better? Not on the evidence of this game. DD’s confidence is at such a low ebb that even his passes have become tentative and erratic. It’s so bad that Desharnais is messing up Rene Bourque – something the winger is capable of doing on his own.
Until Tuesday night, the Canadiens had not lost consecutive games this season.
Next up is the emotional return of Saku Koivu in an Anaheim jersey on Thursday and – gulp! – the San Jose Sharks on Saturday.