About last night …

On Mat Night the Canadiens were vandalized by the doormats of the NHL.
It was quite a trick to play that poorly and salvage a point, but the 3-2 loss to Atlanta was no treat for the Bell Centre crowd or fans watching the game on RDS or TSN.

Christopher Higgins called it embarrassing.
Coming off a four straight wins and a successful road trip, facing a team that’s statistically among the worst in the league, the Canadiens played possibly their worst game of the season.

Certainly their worst 20 minutes.
On home ice with the customary sellout crowd in attendance, the Canadiens were outshot 13-2 in the first period.
Both shots were by defencemen … and one was from the Canadiens’ blueline.
The home team didn’t get a shot from a forward until 23 minutes into the game.
Brutal.

How can they be that great on the road and then stink it out at the Bell?
Is the wives’ and girlfriends’ home cooking that bad?
Were the kids rambunctious during the pre-game naps?

Whatever.
Guy Carbonneau said his team didn’t deserve a point
But they got one, so file the game under F for forgettable.

• • •

Tomas Plekanec lost 10 of 15 faceoffs and was out of synch with his linemates all night.

Tom Kostopoulos is off the hook. The worst pass of the young season was made by Josh Gorges, a blind, up-the-middle backhanded clearing attempt that was gobbled up by Slava Kozlov, who cruised in and beat Carey Price.

As François Gagnon points out in La Presse, Michael Ryder was late for practice Tuesday mroning and didn’t show up for the game. He was benched for most of the third period, playing three shifts while Mathieu Dandenault joined Saku Koivu and Christopher Higgins.
Right now, Ryder is a drag on his linemates, both of whom are off to strong starts. If he doesn’t snap out of his lethargy, maybe Guy Carbonneau should think about moving Alex Kovalev up to the top line.

That’s one combination the coach didn’t try last night. Carbo bounced Guillaume Latendresse off the second line, moving Steve Bégin up. A makeshift third lie included Bryan Smolinski, Kostopoulos and Latendresse.

Nothing worked – except for the PP, which produced both Canadiens goals.

• • •

I thought Carey Price played well: 31 saves in 65 minutes (same total as Johan Hedberg, but Atlanta’s shots were tougher.)
Couldn’t fault him for either of the goals in regulation, and Price was beaten by two quality shots in the shootout.
Another learning experience for a kid who’s going to be great.

• • •

The defence corps missed Francis Bouillon.
Gorges looked jittery. Andrei Markov didn’t have a great night.

• • •

QED: There is no such thing as an easy opponent for your Montreal Canadiens, who have to play 60 minutes of smart, disciplined hockey to win.

Next up: Philadelphia at the Bell Centre tomorrow night.
Gentlemen: fasten your chin straps.


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