You didn’t really think the Canadiens would go 81-0-1 did you?
The team was bound to lose in regulation time eventually.
There inevitably was going to be a night when the goaltending was less than spectacular.
And there will be nights when the goalie at the other end of the ice stands on his head.
Guy Carbonneau saw some positives in his team’s 6-4 loss to Anaheim, notably the Canadiens’ 51 shots.
That was the first time they’ve cracked 50 since Nov. 17 of last year, when they had 52 in a 7-4 win over Boston. In that game, Michael Ryder had 13 shots and didn’t score. Last night, Tomas Plekanec had 13 – including seven in the third period – and rang up a big goose egg.
The Canadiens erstwhile number one line – albeit without Andrei Kostitsyn – had 18 shots on Jean-Sebastien Giguère. And nothing to show for it beyond minus-2s all around. With the game tied 3-3, the line was on for Chris Kunitz’s go-ahead goal and Travis Moen’s shorthanded effort.
And after the Canadiens had scored three unanswered goals – capped by a Tom Kostopoulos crowd-pleaser – to take a 3-2 lead, Alex Kovalev took an ill-advised – and coach-critiqued _ tripping penalty. The Ducks scored on the subsequent power play, added another one two minutes thereafter and that was the ballgame.
I think the shot total was grossly misleading. Giguère, who rented a suite at the Bell Centre for family and friends last night, had a view of the game as good as theirs. The Ducks goaltender saw every shot. The most frequent sound heard last night was the thonk of another shot hitting Giguère right in his bread basket.
The Ducks’ D and backchecking forwards did an efficient job of clearing rebounds and keeping the slot free of red jerseys. And as Saku Koivu noted, Anaheim excelled in transition, producing more odd-man rushes than Canadiens have seen in any game this season.
It was a different story at the other end. Of Anaheim’s six goals, I can’t recall a single one when the scorer had to fight off a check or make some sort of nifty move to evade coverage.
The Canadiens’ defensive zone coverage was softer than a sneaker full of wet cow flop. And that’s troublesome.
At no time was the faiblesse more evident than when Ryan Getzlaf, Chris Kunitz and Cory Perry were on the ice. They each scored a goal, they had nine shots among them and, most significantly, 10 hits.
Keyed by Getzlaf, who’s an absolute monster, the line is huge and they take no prisoners. There isn’t a line in the Eastern Conference that confronts the Canadiens with this combination of skill and physicality .
A couple of seasons ago, Michel Bergeron said the Canadiens’ problem was their tough guys couldn’t score and their scorers weren’t tough.
Know what? It’s still true. The skill guys, however, are so good that most nights their lack of a physical game doesn’t matter.
And having said that, I ought to point out a couple exceptions: Andrei Kostitsyn hits, and so does rapidly-improving Guillaume Latendresse. But there’s no one to compare to the Getzlaf line.
Nor was there anyone on defence who could handle them.
Getzlaf against Josh Gorges? C’mon. The refs let it go, but Human Rights Watch would have whistled the play dead.
The Canadiens were able to produce one mismatch. When Big Georges Laraque had the puck down low, there wasn’t a Duck who could take it away from him.
No one on the fourth line can score, but give the muckers credit: François Gagnon points out the fourth line drew three Anaheim penalties.
Another bright spot: Christopher Higgins. In his first game of the season, Higgins had three shots, a couple hits and some good chances when he was on the PP. Higgins skated well and had a lot of energy. It’s good he’s back, and once AK46 returns and SK74 joins the Robert Lang line, they’ll make some noise.
Did the four-day layoff hurt the Canadiens?
They started slowly. For the first time this season, an opponent opened the scoring; and Anaheim was up 2-0 faster than you could finish a beer.
Carbo had better figure out some drills to keep the boys sharp. After visiting Long Island on Nov. 1, the team is idle until they go to Columbus on the 7th.
Carolina at the Bell Centre Tuesday night. Unless he comes down with bubonic plague, Carey Price will be in nets.
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Carey Price took the L last night … and didn’t deserve it.
Price was the losing goaltender because he relinquished the fifth goal in a game that ended 6-4.
It should be like baseball: the losing pitcher is the one who gives up the run that puts the opposing team in the lead for good.
That way, Jaroslav Halak – beaten when it was 3-3 by Chris Kunitz on the Ducks’ 12th shot (and promptly yanked) – would be saddled with the loss.