About last night …

We know who the starting goaltender will be in Boston.

As to which Canadiens team will show up … well, we’ll see.

Off what we saw at the Bell Centre, the rest of Canadiens’  season could be a hairy and scary 16 days.

Playing on home ice against one of the worst teams in the NHL, the Canadiens could not establish their game until it was almost too late. And it ultimately cost them a valuable point.

I don’t know why this team plays such poor first periods. If you’ve been to the Bell Centre and heard Michel Lacroix boom out "Accueillons nos Canadiens!" as the players skate out and the joint goes bananas, you know that winning conditions are in place even before the national anthems.

Then the visitors come out skating and hitting and the energy drains out  of the team and the building.

That’s what happened last night. After 20 minutes, the score was 1-1 but St. Louis had 11 shots by 11 players and 15 hits by nine players. Comparable totals for the home team: six shots by four Canadiens, eight hits from five. 

Guy Carbonneau, in his post-game remarks, lamented Canadiens’ lack of intensity in the early going. But isn’t firing them up the coach’s job?

Maybe you can’t keep a straight face while making pre-game motivational speeches about a team that has 20 fewer points than yours.

Let’s hope there’s more stirring oratory and a greater sense of urgency before the home-and-home games against Boston – and preceding upcoming divisional games against Ottawa, Buffalo and Toronto.

• Canadiens have gone 3-7 against the Western Conference this season. They narrowly defeated Chicago, Phoenix and Los Angeles – none of whom will make the playoffs – while being hammered by Detroit and Dallas, shut out on home ice by Columbus, blowing a third-period three-goal lead against Nashville (and losing in a shootout), being manhandled by Cup contenders San Jose and Anaheim and barely salvaging a point in the shootout loss to St. Louis.

• Jaroslav Halak made some decent stops but he was weak on Andy McDonald’s goal, which was a momentum killer, coming 47 seconds after Saku Koivu had given Canadiens their first (and last) lead of the game.

• Josh Gorges was steady again and plus-2.Canadiens D did not get a lot of help from the forwards last night.

• Christopher Higgins continues his resurgence. He’s working very hard, and I think his game is back.

• Sergei Kostitsyn outfought the huge Jay McKee to set up Higgins’ goal and made a honey of a pass to fellow Belarussian Mikhail Grabovski for the one-timer that tied it at 3.

• The top line exerted some pressure but often the final pass was a bit off and the shooting off-target. 

• Grabovski continues to generate excitement with his speed,  but he was 1-9 on faceoffs.

• Mark Streit looked hesitant and jittery playing the point on the PP, which went 1-for-6.

• Good discipline: Canadiens played penalty-free for the last 45 minutes plus OT.

• Mike Komisarek isn’t playing like Mike Komisarek.

• Michael Ryder had no shots but he hustled and had four hits.

• Canadiens directed 79 pucks toward Manny Lagace: 30 SoG, 17 muffs and the Blues blocked an impressive 32.

• Through the first 40  minutes, Canadiens couldn’t complete three passes consecutively. 

• With his parents in the crowd, David Perron played 5:55 and all of two shifts in the third period and none in the OT. Tight games are not ideal settings for the talents of a 19-year-old from the Q.

On to Boston, where we’ll see some lineup changes.



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