Christopher Higgins had a point (as he usually does) when he said the loss wasn’t "a boo-worthy game."
But the dissatisfied fans who serenaded their heroes off the ice had a point, also. The Bell Centre are getting tired of paying heavy bread to watch the Canadiens lose.
Especially when the loss is to a team deprived of its best player – and reduced to 16 skaters. Sidney Crosby stayed in Pittsburgh, Colby Armstrong stayed in the room after one shift and Adam Hall stayed on the bench for 54 minutes.
Dany Sabourin, however, was able to go the distance. The stat sheet says Sabourin stopped 31 shots and La Presse’s François Gagnon counted 15 scoring chances. But I’m less generous.
The Penguins’ defensive scheme, which Michel Therrien probably started devising as Crosby’s feet hit the boards Friday night, effectively clogged the slot and prevented the few Canadiens inclined to go to the net from doing so.
So the shots came from far and wide. Sabourin saw them all and stopped them all. I don’t remember many screened shots, rebounds or second chances.
The Canadiens had 17 shots in the second period. But with a one-goal deficit and the game still out there to be won, the home team managed five shots in the third period, while the Penguins had 11.
Which helps explain the chorus that followed the final siren.
But Higgins is right. Most of the Canadiens played a decent game.
• Mike Komisarek celebrated his birthday with six thunderous hits, four shots and an end-to-end rush that was Moose Vasko Meets Paul Coffey.
• Francis Bouillon blocked five shots, had four hits and did what he could to control his off-season pal, Georges Laraque. His defence partner, my man Josh Gorges, played almost 19 minutes and had two shots (the third line had one.)
• The Tomas Plekanec line had nine of the Canadiens’ shots and continues to flash more speed and skill than we’ve seen since the ’70s. Andrei K is on fire.
• Christopher Higgins had five shots, and his line had its moments.
• Cristobal Huet was excellent.
• Tom Kostopoulos had six hits.
Now the negatives:
• Mark Streit had a rare rough night. Too hesitant at both ends.
• Bryan Smolinski, Michael Ryder and Guillaume Latendresse were useless and played only three shifts in the third period. If Darryl Sutter was kicking tires at the Bell Centre last night, he won’t be requesting a test drive.
• Three-way passing plays are cute – but so are Grade 4 Christmas plays. There was too much Samsonovian perimeter buzzing.
• The power-play needs a tune-up. It’s 0-for its last eight.
• Steve Bégin against Boston Tuesday night? Guy Carbonneau has to get that third line going.
And finally, the Québécois Goaltender Alert:
Martin Brodeur in New Jersey on Thursday, Martin Biron twice in February (if he plays a mid-month back-to-back), Pascal Leclaire at the Bell Centre Feb. 23 and Jean-Sebastien Giguère in Anaheim March 9.
The good news: No Roberto Luongo, Mathieu Garon or – God save us! – José Theodore – at least not until the Stanley Cup final.