In his postgame remarks, Mike Cammalleri alluded to the Canadiens’ “level of focus and attention to detail”.
Lack of both, he suggested, leads to goals late in periods.
That was the case again last night.
The Canadiens were cruising along, playing a solid road game and rotecting the 1-0 lead created by Cammalleri’s power-play goal.
Andrei Kostitsyn couldn’t handle a pass in his skates, just outside the Canadiens blueline. AK46 was soft on the play, and his weakness was compounded by Jaro Spacek playing up too high and being forced to commit a hook as the Avalanche pounced on the turnover and swarmed the Canadiens’ zone.
The league-leading penalty kill did their job for 1:51.
With six seconds left in the period, Ryan Wilson’s long shot, through Travis Moen and Josh Gorges, beat Carey Price. And the home team went to the locker room with all the momentum.
So once again, a late goal hurts the Canadiens.
Ten times this season, the team has surrendered goals with less than three minutes left in periods.
Six have come with less than 60 seconds left, and twice the killer, morale-sapping, momentum-shifting goal has come with less than 10 ticks remaining.
What’s worrisome is it’s happening more frequently lately:
On Dec. 10, Nicklas Lidstrom scored at 19:58 of the first period to erase the Canadiens’ 1-0 lead in Detroit.
On Dec. 15, Jeff Carter started a great personal night at the Bell Centre by scoring at 19:42 of a scoreless first period.
At the end of November, Rich Beverley opened the scoring in Atlanta, beating Alex Auld at 19:41 of the first period.
Break the word into two syllables and you’ve got the effect late goals have on the Canadiens.
Another f-word: Finish.
How many open nets did the Canadiens miss during their 14-shot third-period assault?
Craig Anderson was excellent when he had to be last night. But the Canadiens, displaying admirable grit an stamina at altitude, skated their butts off in an effort to get the equalizer, and the chances to beat Anderson cleanly were there.
Twelve minutes into the third period, Jacques Martin benched AK46 and put Maxim Lapierre on the Tomas Plekanec line with Mike Cammalleri.
Benoit Pouliot had excelled on that line against Boston at the Bell Centre. Martin must have liked Lapierre’s hustle – and disliked Pouliot’s work on Colorado’s two even-strength goals – last night, but Max is not a finisher.
And much as we l admire Mathieu Darche’s game and his willingness to do the Tomas Holmstrom and get hammered in front of opposing goaltenders on the PP, his hands aren’t the greatest.
(Did you like the cross-check Ryan O’Byrne laid on Darche last night? That’s the kind of play that used to send O’B to the box – andd into Jacques Martin’s doghouse – in Montreal. In Denver, no call.)
Darche also was on the ice during the final minute and eight seconds, when Martin pulled Price and deployed six forwards.
Cammalleri was on the ice, of course. Also Gomez, Plekanec and Gionta – plus Halpern for O-zone faceoffs and, in the final seconds, Max Pacioretty for Gomez.
They will be needed in Dallas … unless Martin sits Kostitsyn for Tom Pyatt in an effort to wake up AK46.
I can’t see that working. And the Canadiens need a bounce-back game against the Stars.
The team still sits atop the Northeast Division. But the Canadiens are six points ahead of ninth-place Carolina in a Conference race that’s tighter than Toby’s.
And if they ride two losses into Raleigh Thursday night …
• • •
Two Comments worth quoting:
Could’ve gone either way. No blame. It is a little worrisome that the
Habs have really only once this season when Price wasn’t spectacular
… but then isn’t that the system? Kidding/not really.
officiating … here’s what I think. The Colin Campbell e-mails –
quickly dismissed by a fawning media that depends on access and won’t
bite the hand that feeds it – proved that, at minimum, the NHL front
office is actively engaged in telling the referees which players and
teams to call and which not to, often for highly dubious reasons such as
family relation. That is a fact which is now a matter of public record.
Why Campbell still has a job, I do not know. What I do know is that the
Habs are clearly one of the teams that referees have been told to
resist giving calls to, based on things like the O’Byrne cross-checks
specifically and on the general disparity between their power-plays and
penalty-kills generally. Somebody has to fix that, that somebody being
the owner, Mr. Molson, who pays a lot of revenue-sharing cash and
watches his team get screwed on a regular basis.
Saw nothing in
this game to make me really regret losing O’Byrne. Good for him that
he’s playing lots of minutes for Colorado … but their D is nothing to
write home about.
The Habs record without Markov speaks for
itself. He needs to be replaced, and preferably before the Habs drift
down to 8th in the conference and are flirting with the playoff bubble.
liked Pacioretty’s game again. And I actually thought Gomez looked
good. The forwards in general – okay, AK46 was guilty in this one – were
very good, but the defence wasn’t looking brilliant. PK Subban
continues to be in a major funk since his stint in the press-box. He’s
trying to play someone else’s game, and I don’t see the point. He’s a
talent, and you have to let that work. It’s like in theatre: if I have
an actor who has amazing strengths, I use them. I don’t try to make them
do it the part in a way that goes against their abilities. PK is a
Hamlet who’s being asked to play like a Rosencrantz. Okay, PK is
actually more like a Feste, but I’m trying to make a point.
And from Richrebellion:
Ok first i’d like to address all the scott gomez
haters, for weeks me plus a few others had stood up for him and his
abilities. For weeks i have been asking for Martin to place a talented
winger on his other side and yet it took him 30 games to finally realize
it? I like Martin’s system but his player management is horrible, it
was blatantly obvious he needed another winger and even playing Pouliot
on his wing would of helped. And what has he done since Pacioretty has
been called up? Oh just 5 points in 3 games and have easily been the
habs best line the past 3 games.
Now he finally gets gomez going
and decides wait Eller has been playing too well with Pouliot lets
seperate them… I don’t see the logic if anyone else can let me know.
Eller looked solid again tonight but Darche and Lapierre have little to
no offensive skill and it showed.
As for Ak46 I can look to
Martin again, he came into the season flying on a line with pleks and
cammy and instead of doing the reasonable thing and keeping them
together, he decides lets take him off that line. Once again don’t get
the logic, he was playing well and all that gomez needed was 2 offensive
wingers. Instead lets change up all the lines except for placing
Pouliot on gomez wing.
Now i know he doesn’t like young players
who are extremely talented and who don’t always work as hard as guys
like darche and halpern who have fought their way into this league. But
lets face it Darche has no business being on the ice in the final
minutes when you’re down by a goal. I like his effort and his net
presence but on the last pp the guy missed 2 open nets that some of the
younger more talented players would have scored on.
The NHL is a
young man’s league, just look at the abundance of young talent that
leads the league in scoring, yet our young and most talented players are
relegated to the 4th line with no pp time and no opportunity to show
what they have. You wanna blame someone for tonight blame Martin,
because just on the other side of the ice a young team showed us how
youth is the way to win in this league. And Martin the dinosaur is too
busy giving Darche pp time with 3 mins left and the final shift in the
game. Wake up Martin and get with the times!