Your Montreal Canadiens had five shots in the first period.
They had another five in the second.
While this offensive ineptitude was unfolding, the home team didn’t fare any better.
In a 16-minute, 37-second span over the first and second periods, the L.A. Kings had NOT A SINGLE SHOT on Peter Budaj.
The last goal – Jeff Carter’s power-play winner – was scored a few ticks over four minutes into the second period.
There were a few chances and a couple posts pinged thereafter.
The game got briefly exciting when Peter Budaj went to the bench for an extra attacker. Brendan Gallagher, who could probably skate between Anze Kopitar’s legs, put on one of whirling, twirling dervish shifts to keep the puck in the L.A. zone and maintain hope of stealing at least a point to launch the road trip.
But the home team was full value for their win – fifth in a row for the Kings. Darryl Sutter has them playing a disciplined defensive style that stresses secure puck possession and control of the slot, limiting high-percentage chances against Jonathan Quick.
The Canadiens actually outhit L.A., 42-28 – with Douglas Murray dishing out eight checks, to lead both teams, in his 20 minutes of ice time. But the Kings won most of the physical battles – particularly the ones that ensued after the Canadiens tried one of their countless dump-ins to gain the offensive zone.
As has been the case on most nights this season, David Desharnais’ line was the Canadiens best. Gallagher battled ferociously and DD made some clever plays. But Max Pacioretty, the team’s leading goal-scorer, was held without a SoG and missed the net three times.
Tomas Plekanec won 14 of 20 faceoffs, but linemates Alex Galchenyuk and Brian Gionta were each held to a single SoG.
Notwithstanding Rene Bourque’s three shots, the third line was ineffectual. And Lars Eller took two offensive-zone penalties.
The Canadiens’ power play had been hot lately, with goals on 4 of its 11 most recent opportunities.
But the PP fizzled in L.A., going 0-for-3. The Canadiens laboured to gain the L.A. zone and were pressured on the few occasions they actually managed to set up.
During the RDS pre-game show, Guy Carbonneau talked about the Canadiens crafting a 7-1-2 record over their last 10 starts – best in the NHL. They did it, Carbo said, while playing boring, defensive hockey. Get used to it, the former coach advised fans, because the Canadiens just don’t have the talent to play wide-open hockey.
So don’t count on anything eye-pleasing that might keep us awake during these west-coast games that start after 10 p.m. in Montreal.
The next one is Wednesday night in Anaheim, against a team that is 15 points ahead of L.A. in the Pacific Division standings.
The puck will drop about seven hours after the 3 p.m. trade deadline, and it’s doubtful the Canadiens will be making any significant moves.
General manager Marc Bergevin is in Chicago, where the family is mourning the passing of the GM’s mother-in-law.
Bergevin doubtless will field some phone calls about the availability of some of his players, notably Andrei Markov.
I don’t think they’ll move him.
Markov has played his entire 13-year career with the team that drafted him. The painfully shy Russian is comfortable in Montreal.
Bergevin has blueline talent in the pipeline: Jarred Tinordi, who briefly energized his teammates by fighting L.A. tough guy Kyle Clifford; Nathan Beaulieu and Greg Pateryn in Hamilton. None of them, however, is ready to succeed Markov .
It would be great if Bergevin could add a winger with size. And I could see him moving Eller and maybe a prospect or two to get one.
Matt Moulson, Tomas Vanek, Marion Gaborik, Chris Stewart and Ryan Kesler could all be moved on Wednesday.
I wouldn’t stake out Dorval Airport waiting to greet any of them.