Encouraged by the success of its Brendan Gallagher promotion, McDonald’s is introducing the Joonas Nättinen Trio:
One French fry, a glass of water and a bus ticket to Hamilton.
Hey, you’ve been a great audience.
We’re here till the playoffs start.
Try the veal.
Well, I guess Saturday night’s game taught Rene Bourque a lesson.
Coaches always talk about the importance of internal competition.
From his seat in the Air Canada pressbox, Bourque got to watch Nättinen play two first-period shifts. During his 1:45 of ice time, the Bulldogs call-up lost two faceoffs and spent the rest of the game on the bench.
The Finnish kid must have envied George Parros, who got to play four shifts and had 3 minutes of ToI.
And Bourque is thinking: “This is the kind of depth we have in the organization? Get the KY ready. I’ll be corking the Corgi until my contract runs out in 2016.”
What a difference a week makes, eh?
Last Saturday, Bourque played 13:31, had two shots and four hits as he and his teammates beat the Stanley Cup champions in the Game of the Season at the Bell Centre.
Three days later, the Canadiens were terrible in a loss to New Jersey. Then they stole two points in Ottawa before losing in Toronto, with Bourque and Nättinen looking on.
Carey Price has given up eight goals in two games … and if it weren’t for him, the Senators and Leafs would have scored 15.
Which is what the Penguins and Red Wings might total in the week ahead.
In his postgame remarks, Michel Therrien said “individual errors” cost the Canadiens the game at the ACC; and that was certainly true on the winning goal.
The puck hopped over Andrei Markov’s stick, which can happen – but maybe not in a 3-3 game.
Then as Tyler Bozak wheeled past Markov and toward the Canadiens’ net, Alexei Emelin took a quick look toward the middle of the ice and surmised that Max Pacioretty would be staying with James Van Riemsdyk.
Emelin was soft on Bozak’s diagonal pass, Pacioretty let JVR skate to the open side of the net and Bingo! That was the ballgame.
Therrien praised a “good effort” in which his team battled back from 1-0 and 3-1 deficits.
Anyone care to join the coach in a round of glasses half-full?
From where I’m sitting, the Canadiens have played mostly crap hockey since the siren sounded on the Chicago game. And the suckitude is not a recent phenomenon.
From Nov. 10 to Dec. 7, the Canadiens took points in 13 of 14 games. Their only loss in regulation was a 1-0 squeaker against the Rangers at the Bell Centre.
Since then, they’ve been a mediocre hockey team that’s managed only one pair of consecutive wins, in Nashville and Tampa Bay on either side of Christmas Day.
Fearless prediction: If the Canadiens continue to play this way, their season will end on April 12, when the Rangers visit the Bell Centre for Game 82.
The same problems persist in game after game.
The Canadiens can’t score at even strength.
Defence is an adventure and clearing their zone is a challenge unless P.K. Subban is on the ice.
When the opponents are cruising unimpeded through the neutral zone, gaps between the Canadiens’ forwards and defencemen are too large.
Back pressure is non-existent.
There is only one consistently dangerous forward line: David Desharnais centring Max Pacioretty and Brendan Gallagher.
For the rest, the coach keeps trying different combinations with little success.
McDonald’s would introduce a Michel Therrien Trio, but they don’t know whether it should include one burger, two burgers, a chicken filet, chicken fingers, fries, a salad or soup.
The coach has some decisions to make with his defence corps.
P.K. Subban played over 30 minutes against the Leafs. Markov’s ToI was 27:50.
Therrien had to play them half to death because Emelin struggled, again, and Josh Gorges – for all his hollering on 24CH – is not a Top Four defenceman on a good hockey team.
I liked what I saw of Nathan Beaulieu. Great wheels, accurate shot. A few screw-ups, but that’ll happen with a young defenceman.
Beaulieu, Jarred Tinordi and Greg Pateryn are – in contrast to poor Nättinen and the other Bulldogs forwards – bona-fide NHL prospects. Maybe the future should be now.
Because unless something changes soon, we could see the launch of a Habs Fan Trio:
A beer, a shot and an antidepressant.
• • •
Nathan Beaulieu and Joonas Nättinen were sent back to Hamilton after the game.