No reason to panic … yet.
Mike Cammalleri may play in the Heritage Classic. Hal Gill could be ready for Calgary, as well.
The Canadiens are in sixth place, seven points clear of eighth-place Carolina, which has a game in hand.
Moreover, this team tends to play well in games it is not expected to win …. like the one on Sunday and the Tuesday visit to Vancouver.
Arpon Basu has some interesting analysis of line match-ups last night. The thrust of it is Scott Gomez, Travis Moen and Andrei Kostitsyn were playing against Andrew Cogliano and two rookies, Jordan Eberle and Taylor Hall.
They should have taken advantage, and they had their chances: 10 shots on goal for the line, plus four blocked. But when the siren sounded, Gomez was minus-2 – he’s been on that side of the ledger in every loss of the current slide – and AK46 and Moen were minus-1. The line was on the ice when Eberle scored the winner.
The other top line – Tomas Plekanec, Max Pacioretty and Brian Gionta – were each minus-2.
One of Jacques Martin’s in-game adjustments – along with playing his D half to death after James Wisniewski’s injury – was sitting two players whose skating couldn’t keep up with the whippet-fast Oilers. Down to four reliable Dmen, Martin needed back-end help from his forwards; David Desharnais and Mathieu Darche were deemed too slow to provide it.
But the limited use of Darche, ToI 5:40, and DD, 11:06, meant Martin was going with a three-line team that ran out of gas in the third period.
The Canadiens had their chances. They outshot Edmonton 37-28. But open nets were missed, Nikolai Khabibulin outgoaled Carey Price and all the offence they could muster was one greasy goal by non-sniper Jeff Halpern.
And having lost to the goaltender ranked 39th in the NHL, the Canadiens face Miikka Kiprusoff (ranked eighth) and Roberto Luongo (No. 2 … and he’ll be trying harder against the team from his hometown).
When they get to Vancouver, the Canadiens will be facing a team with a D corps more depleted than their own. The Canucks, who lost to Nashville last night, had Sami Salo and Christian Ehrhoff on defence, plus four guys I’ve never heard of: Yann Sauvé, Chris Tanev, Aaron Rome and Evan Oberg.
It’s crunch time in the NHL season, and everyone is banged-up to a greater or lesser degree.
Canadiens fans can be thankful that after the Andrei Markov and Josh Gorges injuries, P.K. Subban and, increasingly in recent games, Yannick Weber have stepped up.
P.K. has played more than 29 minutes against Buffalo and Edmonton this week. After Wiz went down last night, Weber played 27:38. Alexandre Picard played a season-high 23:23 and did not look out of place.
They’re young and can handle that kind of ToI – although a shot of the bench during the third period last night showed Subban gasping for air.
Roman Hamrlik will be 37 in April. Keep playing him 27-plus minutes like he did against Edmonton and a U.N. Human Rights tribunal will file charges against Jacques Martin at The Hague.
And now your injury-ravaged Canadiens play the Heritage Classic.
No one ever gets hurt in an outdoor game, right?
• • •
The first penalty – a Dustin Penner hook – wasn’t called until the game was 33 minutes old.
And an oddity: with their two top penalty-killers – Jeff Halpern and Tomas Plekanec – in the box, the Canadiens held Edmonton’s PP off.
• • •
Is Tomas Plekanec running out of gas?
Pleks hasn’t been his usual speedy self in recent games, and Jacques Martin played Pleks 18:34 last night – less than Scott Gomez’s 20:51.
• • •
Guest Comment from PeterD:
Seems every day we talk about and lament the
loss and our two best defencemen – Markov and Gorges and that somehow
that provides some solice for why the team is not winning or how the
team shows such spunk and character game in and game out. But really,
we should not be bringing up the loss of these two great players as an
excuse for current or future team performance…they are gone for the
season and no lamenting or head hanging will bring them back. So we
need to move on as if they are not part of this team – because for all
intents and purposes they are not.
Cammi, Gill, Spatches and Wizi
will return soon I hope. But even they will not fix what is wrong with
this team right now. We do not have goal scoring finishers on this
team. This comment may or probably will alienate some on HIO, but
seriously, how does a team get so many shots game in and game out and
not put some in the net. The answer is very clear, we have skilled,
fast skating players but they lack the natural goal scoring creativity
that puts goals in the net.
I for one am very concerned with our
near term future. We can play team defense better than most teams in
the league, but we need some offensive finishers. Without that we are
unable to beat the Oilers, Islanders, and Sabres…how do we think we
will do against the elite teams that make the long run into the
I have been a real Gomez, AK basher all season, but
tonight and the last few games they have been putting in the effort and
show they care and are trying…But, trying and caring and putting in
effort is not scoring goals and winning close games.
Gauthier needs to be looking right now towards what this team will look
like and how they will perform going forward over the rest of this
season and for the next two to three years and if he is willing to be
bold, he should make some trades now that increase our offensive finish
around the net. Questions he needs to be asking now are… Does he have
scoring talent in the system that can make the jump next year? Can he
find a scoring gem before the trade deadline this year? How much is he
willing to pay for that talent if he finds a willing partner?
is one very tough job he has…and again, good luck with that Pierre.
Right now, my bias is overpay if you have too for that scoring forward
who can finish around the net consistently.