Randy Cunneyworth said his team lost because of “individual mistakes at the wrong times.”
The coach declined to name names, but the screw-ups were so egregious they were obvious to anyone watching the game.
In case you missed it, Travis Moen turned the puck over at the Canadiens blue line with his team trailing 2-1 in the third period. Patrice Bergeron pounced on it, and with all the Canadiens heading up ice, Brad Marchand was able to scoot in alone on Carey Price for the goal that proved to be the winner.
But let’s cut Moen a bit of slack here. He’s a fourth-line forward who had to play as a Top Six against the Bruins. The guy works his ass off and doesn’t make many mistakes.
But the player whose screw-ups produced the first two Boston goals? He’s another story.
I’ve defended P.K. Subban in previous editions of ALN. Under Jacques Martin, a 22-year-old sophomore defenceman was playing more minutes, in all situations, than anyone else on the team.
But I’ve come around to the opinion of P.K.’s critics – including former Canadiens coach Michel Therrien, who was on L’Antichambre after the game.
Subban is not maturing, Therrien said. His concentration is off. He’s making too many mistakes.
To illustrate, Gaston Therrien had video of the first two Boston goals:
• On the first, P.K. made a bad pass that Michael Blunden couldn’t handle. The ensuing mess forced the Canadiens to ice the puck.
With a tired fourth line forced to stay on, Claude Julien came back with Rich Peverley, who won the faceoff, skipped past Petteri Nokelainen and fed Benoit Pouliot looking at a wide-open net.
• The second Boston gaol was worse. P.K., under no pressure behind the Canadiens’ net, attempted a backhand pass so fancy he had to lift his skate to do it. Andrew Ference pinched past Louis Labelanc, pounced on the loose puck and ticked one in off David Krejci.
Subban’s pass, Therrien said, was “not a play you make in the National Hockey League.”
P.K.’s lackadaisical play forced Cunneyworth to juggle his defence pairings: Raphael Diaz joined Josh Gorges on the top unit, with Subban dropping down to join Hal Gill.
Was the loss all on Subban, then?
Of course not. But his struggles are symptomatic of the ills that afflict too many members of the team.
Despite the heroism of Carey Price – it would have been 6-2 without him in Boston – mistakes tend to end up in back of the Canadiens’net.
It’s demoralizing. And a team that has trouble scoring can’t afford to give up gift goals.
• A good third-period, highlighted by a late goal and pressure in the dying seconds
• Only two minor penalties – and an impressive long kill by the PK unit – in a game that scarecely resembled the usual Canadiens-Bruins wars. maybe it’s because Milan Lucic wasn’t playing.
• Signs of life from the Tomas Plekanec line. But it’s been this kind of season for the Canadiens: David Desharnais was 2-13 on faceoffs and his line had an off-night. It seems impossible for this team to have six top forwards all playing well for 60 minutes.
• The fourth line was probably the Canadiens’ best. What does that tell you?
It tells you the team is in trouble.
And while it seems he’s been able to light a fire under Michael Blunden, I don’t know if Randy Cunneyworth can turn things around.
Cunneyworth is a good man and a good coach, universally respected by everyone in hockey.
But Geoff Molson’s statement on Monday – issued 48 hours after the change, as the owner attempted to stamp out a language forest fire – seems to pin a lame duck’s wings on his head coach.
Since being appointed on Saturday, Cunneyworth has had two morning skates to work with his players.
That isn’t much time to put in a new system … even if Cunneyworth were inclined to do so.
He was Jacques Martin’s assistant. Cunneyworth was responsible for the power play, which was 0-for-2 and is 28th in the NHL.
On Wednesday, the Canadiens will be in Chicago, playing a Blackhawks team on the second night of a back-to-back.
That should be an advantage … and it better be, against a team that leads the Western Conference and, like Boston, has scored 111 goals this season.
That’s 24 more than your 12th-place Montreal Canadiens.
At the end of L’Antichambre, they were looking past this season.
François Gagnon was nominating Vincent Damphousse as the Canadiens’ next general manager and wishing him luck in dealing with coach Patrick Roy.
We’ll hear a lot of that over the next 48 games, and the only thing that might quell rampant speculation is a hot Canadiens team embarking on a winning streak that propels them northward in the Eastern Conference standings.
Anyone foresee that happening?