About last night …

PriceRyder

It was a great day for a couple of New Jersey legends.
Bruce Springsteen’s new album came out on Tuesday.
And Martin Brodeur won another game at the Bell Centre.
Not such a great day for Canadiens’ fans, though.
They might love The Boss’s music.
And they might admire the Hall of Fame goaltending career of a St. Léonard homeboy – as evidenced by the warm applause for Brodeur’s selection as the game’s first star.
But by then, most fans had left the building.
And they did not go home happy.

Remember all that positive energy generated by the Saturday night conquest of Chicago?

Brodeur and the Devils saw to it that those feelings washed away like doggie doots in the mild weather Montreal’s been having.

The worst of it was the Canadiens did not play a bad game.

Having held the Stanley Cup champions to a season-low 20 shots in 65 minutes on Saturday, the Canadiens bettered that against New Jersey: 19 shots, including TWO in the third period.

The Devils were, however, opportunistic. The visitors scored three goals on their first 10 shots.

Let’s not let that .700 save percentage cheer up what few Carey Price-haters we have left at HIO. Price could not be faulted for any of the goals, each of which was scored with Devils immovably parked in and around his crease. And he made some key saves, including that slide-across stop on Michael Ryder in the photo.

This may come as a surprise to Canadiens forwards, but NHL rules permit proximity to the blue paint. And sticking enough bodies there, as New Jersey did all night, enhances the chances of a puck finding its way to the back of the net.

Brendan Gallagher understands this. The diminutive Canadien has been a burr in the britches of opposing goaltenders since he joined the team last season.

Gallagher was called for interference on Brodeur three minutes into the game. And he was on the edge of the blue paint when His skate deflected a Lars Eller feed past Brodeur.

It was ruled a goal on the ice. But after video review – the duration of which suggested Toronto was going to break hearts in Montreal – it was ruled Gallagher had kicked the puck in.

Attention conspiracy theorists: the Canadiens have had SEVEN goals disallowed since Christmas. No one – not even the President of France – gets screwed that often.

But the zebras did not cost your Montreal Canadiens the game. No egregious fouls went uncalled, and the home team had three power-play opportunities.

For all the good that did.

The Canadiens have failed to score on their last 18 man advantages, a streak that’s lasted five games. The Canadiens’ most recent power-play goal was scored by Gallagher in the third period at Dallas on Jan. 2.

Since then: Zilch.

When the Devils’ Andy Greene went off for interference lathe in the first period, the Canadiens’ PP actually showed signs of life. There was more movement from Andrei Markov and P.K. Subban at the points, with Markov penetrating down the left side and Subban moving to the centre of the blueline to shoot and feed the puck down low.

The problem, to my eyes, is lack of net presence. The Canadiens throw the biscuit around on the perimeter like what a caller to Ron Fournier’s show called “the Harlem Globetrotters of hockey.” No one, however, was willing to do a Shaquille O’Neal on Brodeur..

With David Desharnais out of the lineup with the flu, Lars Eller had 1:51 of power-play time. Fine. You need a centre; and while Eller lacks DD’s playmaking finesse, he’s a battler who works hard down low.

That quality has rarely been attributed to Rene Bourque, who had two minutes of PP time, prompting Sun hockey columnist Chris Stevenson to tweet Like that McDonald’s commercial: Rene Bourque on the Montreal power play. Whaaaaat?

Know what I’d try on the power-play?

Stick a big body – Douglas Murray or George Parros, perhaps – on the lip of the crease. Philadelphia used to do it with Chris Pronger before his injury. The Bruins do it with Chara.

It’s fine to have Daniel Brière channeling Gretzky from behind the net. But unless you get some big bodies in the goaltender’s kitchen, the PP will continue to sputter.

And that will spell trouble for a team that has trouble scoring at even-strength.

Precisely how much trouble will be gauged in the Canadiens’ next two games, in Ottawa Thursday night and at the ACC on Saturday.

Like the Devils, the Senators and Leafs are scrambling for Eastern Conference playoff berths. They’ll be playing desperate hockey, and woe betide our guys if they don’t match that intensity.

 

279 Comments

  1. Captmax says:

    A few quick notes. It’s the defensive coach who needs to see the play and prepare the guys for it. Seems that didn’t happen.

    Eller looked Stellar on the second line. The guy pushed the corners and single handedly gave Gallagher that great goal. He’s a second line centre who, sadly, is auditioning for another teams second line. A serious contender will make a trade for him. He’s got the hands and is showing amazing growth and dynamic puck handling skills. Something that doesn’t have a place in Therrien’s team. Revealed by his lack of PP time.

    This is a classic example of the Habs only playing as good as they need to. They actually seem to play better when they are down a goal then making an attempt to just keep scoring from the start.

    Onto the next team!

    Capt

  2. gmoan says:

    Wow Boone, you think DD has better hands than Eller? Fine? A big center with great hands that battles is fourth on the pp depth chart after pleks DD and briere and fine! Let’s settle for eller….! What is going here? Am I losing my mind or is there more to DD and Briere? … Probably less… Much less

  3. jhaley101 says:

    Habs bus to Ottawa, or fly and carry on to Toronto too?

  4. Habfan17 says:

    I have read that Byfuglian will most likely be traded by the deadline.
    The article went on to say he does have 37 points but is minus 16

    Given that he is a righty and his size, would you like to see Bergevin trade for him? Who would you give up to get him?
    Diaz, Gorges and LeBlanc? enough, not enough? Thoughts?

    Habfan17

  5. 44har48 says:

    I know MB is working on it, quality change doesn’t happen overnight, but I am frustrated and tired of watching this happen to the Habs. It has been years of this now, letting teams crash Price at will. The top teams know how good Carey Price really is, regardless of how much we debate it on here, and they know the best and one of the only ways you will beat him now is to crash him and create traffic. Philly embarrassed us 2 yrs ago and Ottawa did it last year – both when the money was on the table and the games counted.

    Where was all that speed and skill last night? Where was it last year in the playoffs? Where was it against Philly 2 yrs ago? Where is it on nights like last night?

  6. strunzo says:

    Steve O

    Where do you get your statistics? I would like access.

  7. habkin says:

    I mentioned last week of placing a defenceman in front of the net like Bowman did in the 70′s. Good idea to use Prust in front of the net and Subban playing as a forward, could be like a Cammy or Kovy along the boards for a shot during a PP. I compare the teams that won a Cup to ours and in the 70′s there were two “small” players on the team: the Roadrunner and the Pocket. One was too fast and the other played large. Wow, were we blessed with Bowman and Pollock’s hockey IQ!

  8. Wintercount says:

    A drill to help coach Michel.
    So a team is split in half and all the best shot blockers are given the day off and the ones left are graded on a scale of A to Z, Z being the worst.
    Whomever is determined to be “Z” should be the guy cemented in front of the net on our next power play.

    Thought Chicago was playing about 70% on Sat.

    I know this will never happen, but I would let Subban coach the PP for 4 or 5 games to see what happens. Be interesting to see.

  9. shiram says:

    New thread…

  10. Walmyr says:

    Hello everybody…

    Last night I saw that kid wearing #68…a top line forward with nice hands…he seems to be a big body too…plays the game in a different speed (which fine by me)…

    Luck Devils for having this guy around…

    Hope we pick a guy like that next draft(s)………..

    CHeers

  11. Luke says:

    Did anyone really expect the Habs to beat the Devils in what is most likely Martin F. Brodeur’s last game in Montreal?

    Seriously. The guy has a win% of like 75% in MTL to begin with, and it’s probably his last game here. Deck was stacked. You could see this loss coming as soon as they released the schedule.

    (Now, Habs effort etc is a different story).

    • Mattyleg says:

      From where I was sitting, he looked kinda lost out there on a number of occasions, and was only saved by deflections and pucks missing the net.

      He did plenty of flippety-floppety stuff regardless, but I don’t think he was the same Marty F that we’ve seen play in Montreal in the past.

      —Hope Springs Eternal—

      • shiram says:

        Yeah I agree, he looked beatable last night.

        • Luke says:

          no chance. He could have been on the bench and the hockey gods would have had the Habs hit the posts all night.

          Marty was winning the game.

          (This was largely tongue in cheek, not really meant to be taken seriously).

      • DickandDanny says:

        What were you drinking? I’ve got to get myself some of that. Or, perhaps you were sitting behind a pillar. Either way your view was obscured. The guy was stellar and the first star. But of course everyone else who watched the game must be wrong, otherwise you aren’t right as always.

        “A cannonading blast from the wing, by Lafleur”

        • Gerry H says:

          Seriously? Nevermind the unnecessary hostility of your post, he was beaten three times, including two unobscured longshots (MaxPac’s goal and a post by Gionta, I think).

          Looked unsteady to me. The first star could well have been sentimental.

          • DickandDanny says:

            Really? Hostility? Check out Mattylegs comments below to Scotland before making such an outrageous comment.

            “A cannonading blast from the wing, by Lafleur”

          • DickandDanny says:

            Seriously, ok if you want me to be serious goals count when they go in the net, not wrung off the post, which I don’t recall more than one of those last night. Beaten, ummm that would mean a goal was scored. We had one. Brodeur played his usual great game against Montreal, and was rewarded, rightfully so based on the shot count, the number one star. If Brodeur looked ‘so beatable’ then why did we score but one goal. Your argument that he looked beatable makes no sense. Your just tying to make yourself feel better. Good luck with that.

            “A cannonading blast from the wing, by Lafleur”

          • Mattyleg says:

            I wasn’t hostile to Scotland at all.

            I thought I was offering some strong arguments to his points.

            I don’t believe that I insulted him or called him names…

            —Hope Springs Eternal—

        • Mattyleg says:

          Sorry for offending you with my opinion, Dick.

          As Walt Whitman wrote: “I am the man, I suffr’d, I was there.”

          —Hope Springs Eternal—

  12. shiram says:

    If Brière was the next best thing outside of a physical top 6 forward, it might have been best at that point just not to sign anyone.
    Habs would have had cap space and could have used that for a trade, or just have the roster spot available for a Leblanc/Bournival.

    • Mattyleg says:

      In retrospect Briere looks bad, but an experienced vet will always trump an untried rookie in a GM’s mind at the beginning of a season, I think.

      —Hope Springs Eternal—

    • Luke says:

      This I agree with.

      Signing Briere was not necessary. He wasn’t filling a hole in the lineup. But I don’t think you’ll find many people, even the most positive posters amongst us, who disagree with that.

      That said, I believe Bournival stole his roster spot in training camp. He really hadn’t given any indication that he was ready to make the jump. He showed up and made the odd signing of Briere even more unnecessary.
      Actually says a lot about MB & MT for rewarding Bournival with the roster spot despite the number of veterans on the roster when they very easily could have sent him to Hamilton, paid him less, and not worried aout losing him to waivers.

    • DickandDanny says:

      Good post. MB learned a valuable lesson. Sometimes you just sit on your poker chips and wait.

      “A cannonading blast from the wing, by Lafleur”


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