Desharnais shines in fantasy loss

DesharnaisCelebrates

Suffering Canadiens withdrawal? The Gazette has the answer with the ultimate fantasy experience as beat writer Pat Hickey and Gazette techie Eric Tobon employ EA Sports NHL 13 to produce The Season That Isn’t. Here’s how things might have looked in Saturday’s game against the Maple Leafs in Toronto.

PAT HICKEY

The Gazette

TORONTO _ The good news for David Desharnais was that he collected two assists against the Toronto Maple Leafs Saturday night.

The bad news is that the line of Max Pacioretty, Desharnais and Eric Cole produced the only offence in a 4-2 loss to the Leafs at the Air Canada Centre.

“I think our line has good chemistry and we want to stay together,” said Desharnais, who assisted on Pacioretty’s power-play goal in the first period and then set up Cole on a 2-on-1 breakaway midway through the third period.

The Desharnais line was one of the few bright spots for the Canadiens last season and new coach Michel Therrien said he planned to keep them together to start the season.

But he also said he might break up the top line in an attempt to find more balanced scoring and it was obvious that there was little in the way of balance in this game. The Canadiens managed only 19 shots on James Reimer and the Desharnais line accounted for eight shots. Throw in six shots from the  defence and that means the other three lines had only five shots on goal.

“It’s too early to start making changes but we have to create more chances,” said Therrien, who saw his team fall to 0-2 on the season.

The Leafs made life tough for Canadiens goaltender Carey Price in the first period when they outshot Montreal 18-3.

“You like to get shots early so that you get into the game but they came at us pretty hard,” said Price.

The fans were still filing into their seats when Tim Connolly gave the Leafs the early lead at the 56-second mark of the opening period. Connolly was tied up in front by Alexei Emelin but managed to tip Dion Phaneuf’s shot from the point.

After Pacioretty tied the score at 4:51 with a slapshot from the half wall, the Leafs scoed twice in a 71-second span to take control of the game.

Phil Kessel scored on the rebound of a shot by Tyler Bozak at 11:33 and Matthew Lombardi made it 3-1 when he scored on a harmless looking wrister which eluded Price’s glove hand.

“That’s one I would have wanted back,” said Price. “I thought I had it but I was a split-second too late.”

Cole, the team’s leading goal-scorer last season, notched his first as he beat defender  Mike Komisarek to the net and redirected a perfect pass from Desharnais.

“I’m still not 100 per cent,” said Cole, who missed most of training camp with a lower-body ailment. “But I’m feeling stronger every day and this was a good start. Last year, it took me eight games to get the first one.”

The Canadiens pulled Price with 1:43 to play but managed only one shot on goal before James Van Riemsdyk iced the game with an empty-netter.

Things don’t get any easier for the Canadiens as they face the rival Boston Bruins Tuesday at the Bell Centre with a rematch Thursday at the TD Garden.

phickey@montrealgazette.com

136 Comments

  1. centre hice says:

    If you have Illico (videotron), TVA Sports is 624 in HD.

    I friday I went online and changed a channel in my package for TVA Sports and the change happened immediately.

    That night I saw Nathan Mckinnon and other draft prospects vs habs pick Archambeault. Sweet.

    Can’t wait to see Bulldogs games. Hope the production is good.

    • frontenac1 says:

      Yep. That’s the channel. For Bell it is 1883 in HD. That Moose/Volts game was pretty good eh? Someone here mentioned that the TVA/Dogs coverage is starting Oct 20?

  2. Chris says:

    I don’t know how many people caught the Montreal-Boston 1979 playoff game on CBC last night but here are a few thoughts:

    Anybody who thinks the skill level of the modern NHL hasn’t improved by leaps and bounds over the 1970′s skill level is perceiving the game through nostalgia. The players were so much slower than today’s players, and that was despite the fact that they were much, much smaller.

    Compare the Stanley Cup Winning Montreal Canadiens of 1979 to the Stanley Cup Winning Los Angeles Kings of 2012:

    Top Line:

    Steve Shutt (5’11, 180 pounds)
    Jacques Lemaire (5’11″, 180 pounds)
    Guy Lafleur (6’0″, 185 pounds)

    vs.

    Justin Williams (6’1″, 191 pounds)
    Anze Kopitar (6’4″, 220 pounds)
    Dustin Brown (6’1″, 204 pounds)

    Second and Third Line Forwards:

    Pierre Mondou (5’11″, 185 pounds)
    Yvon Lambert (6’0″, 195 pounds)
    Mario Tremblay (6’0″, 190 pounds)
    Rejean Houle (5’11″, 165 pounds)
    Bob Gainey (6’2″, 190 pounds)
    Mark Napier (5’10″, 185 pounds)
    Doug Jarvis (5’9″, 170 pounds)

    vs.

    Mike Richards (5’11″, 199 pounds)
    Jeff Carter (6’4″, 199 pounds)
    Dustin Penner (6’4″, 242 pounds)
    Jarret Stoll (6’1″, 213 pounds)
    Simon Gagne (6’1″, 195 pounds)
    Trevor Lewis (6’1″, 194 pounds)
    Dwight King (6’3″, 234 pounds)

    Defence:

    Larry Robinson (6’3″, 220 pounds)
    Guy Lapointe (6’0″, 185 pounds)
    Serge Savard (6’3″, 210 pounds)
    Rick Chartraw (6’2″, 205 pounds)
    Brian Engblom (6’2″, 200 pounds)
    Gilles Lupien (6’6″, 205 pounds)
    Rod Langway (6’3″, 218 pounds)

    vs.

    Drew Doughty (6’0″, 212 pounds)
    Willie Mitchell (6’3″, 208 pounds)
    Matt Greene (6’3″, 232 pounds)
    Rob Scuderi (6’1″, 219 pounds)
    Slava Voynov (5’11″, 199 pounds)
    Alec Martinez (6’1″, 206 pounds)

    What made that late 1970′s team so unbelievably successful was that they had perhaps the best defence corps ever assembled, relative to the era in which they played. The Montreal defencemen were HUGE by 1970′s standards. Compare the sizes of those 7 guys vs. the “Big Bad Bruins” or the “Broad Street Bullies”:

    Boston (1973-74):

    Dallas Smith (5’11″, 175 pounds)
    Bobby Orr (6’0″, 199 pounds)
    Carol Vadnais (6’1″, 190 pounds)
    Darryl Edestrand (5’11″, 180 pounds)
    Al Sims (6’0″, 182 pounds)

    Note that Bobby Orr played so much that the Bruins only rolled 5 defencemen through the entire playoffs that year.

    Philadelphia (1975-76):

    Joe Watson (5’10″, 165 pounds)
    Jim Watson (6’0″, 190 pounds)
    Andre Dupont (6’1″, 200 pounds)
    Tom Bladon (6’1″, 195 pounds)
    Larry Goodenough (6’0″, 195 pounds)
    Jack McIlhargey (6’0″, 190 pounds)
    Terry Murray (6’2″, 190 pounds)

    The team that followed Montreal as a dynasty, the New York Islanders, were also known as a tough team to play against due to their excellent team defence. Here’s how their guys stacked up:

    New York Islanders (1982-83):

    Denis Potvin (6’0″, 205 pounds)
    Tomas Jonsson (5’10″, 175 pounds)
    Ken Morrow (6’4″, 205 pounds)
    Gord Lane (6’1″, 185 pounds)
    Stefan Persson (6’1″, 190 pounds)
    Mike McEwen (6’1″, 195 pounds)
    Dave Langevin (6’2″, 215 pounds)

    Montreal defence corps of the late 1970′s could probably fit in well even in today’s era of monstrously large players. They were big, talented and highly mobile, the requirements of a modern defenceman. But they played in an era where they were exceptional in size, not just in skill.

    Montreal’s forwards in the late 1970′s would be hard-pressed to even make it to the NHL at their size. The game has changed. Lars Eller is still being told to bulk up his 6’0″, 198 pound frame. Put him back in 1979, and he would be the heaviest top-9 forward on the team, and his build would be roughly comparable to that of Bob Gainey (2 inches shorter but 10 pounds lighter), considered one of the strongest players in the game in his era.

    Or what about the “smurfs”? At 5’10″, Tomas Plekanec would be an average height in the 1970′s NHL, but at 190 pounds he would be the second heaviest top-9 forward (behind Yvon Lambert) on the team. Plekanec, like all modern players, has had to build up his strength to levels that players in the 1970′s would have marvelled at just to compete in today’s NHL.

    Players in the 1970′s were painfully slow by modern standards, and most of the forwards were absolutely terrible defensively. Watching the game last night, I could count on one hand the number of times that a forward skated backwards in the neutral zone, checking the progress of the offensive team as they tried to enter the zone. Today, getting across the blue line is a victory in and of itself.

    The goaltenders wore such shoddy equipment that you had a whole net to shoot at. And they all played a stand-up style (mostly because most of the goalies were not all that big and **really** didn’t like getting hit in the upper body with shots, as it hurt quite a bit because of the shoddy pads), meaning that they were often vulnerable to low shots.

    This isn’t to take away from the glory of the teams that won in those years. They were the best of their era. But I will say that the hockey of their era is a pale imitation of what we see today: it was slow and the state of the defensive side of the game was below what you’d see in a junior game today.

    The scoring explosion of the early 1980′s forced the coaches of that era to finally address defence, which had largely been ignored by most teams, and the subsequent improvement in player conditioning, skating skills and team tactics has had the desired effect of making it all but impossible to go end-to-end, something that was seemingly happening every other shift in the game shown last night.

    The parity of today’s NHL is not a result of too many teams. It is the result of the average level of today’s NHL player being MUCH higher than it was 30 years ago, resulting in a much smaller gap between a superstar like Sidney Crosby and a journeyman utility player like Mathieu Darche than what we saw between someone like Guy Lafleur and the journeymen of his era.

    • HabFab says:

      Chris, as per usual a top notch analysis.

    • Habfan10912 says:

      I’ve always noticed the difference in the speed of the game and the difference in goalie equipment. Your analysis is dead on. Thanks for posting this.

      ———————————–

    • Lafleurguy says:

      Your posts and the info they contain are superb.
      Analogous to the advances you cogently highlight would be to mention the changes in pro football. Consider how fast the 300 lb.+ linemen are now. William the Fridge Perry would be a non-entity ’cause a lot of the backs are that size. Weak-armed quarterbacks like Jerry Tagge just don’t exist anymore. As a youth I accepted the fact that my favorite team’s receivers would drop a certain percentage of passes (Don Warrington, Gary Lefebvre, Tyrone Walls, Rick House), whereas the sure-handed guys were horribly slow (George McGowan, Brian Howdie-Doodie Kelly). Nowadays, if you have a Wesley Welker kind of Super Bowl day, you have supermodels dropping F-Bombs on your drops. ‘Nuff said.

      You rightly mentioned inferior equipment, but think too of advanced coaching methods, and training regimens. More than ‘Nuff said (The Thing).

      “May you live in interesting times.”

    • otter649 says:

      The lengths of the players shifts stood out to me as well as the hooking & obstruction with the players sticks……

  3. Habfan10912 says:

    MINI SUMMIT NEWS.

    Hockey Inside Out Hamilton Summit (AKA Replacement Summit) News!

    We are all set for the October 26th Hamilton Bulldog vs. Toronto Marlies Game. Here’s what you need to do.

    You must call Greg Diamond at 905-546-8177 and mention HI/O Summit. Greg will let you know of the different price levels and take care of your order. Gold tickets are $20 for HIO members. He has assured us that we all will be sitting near each other. We may also have an opportunity to meet some of the Bulldog players.

    Arrangements for pre game get together and post game drinks are in the works. Please stay. tuned for details. Thanks to Habinburlington for arranging this for us! Hope to see you all there!

    ———————————–
    Free JB!

    • Ian Cobb says:

      JIM & GERALD
      Fantastic putting this together for all the HIO gang!!

      Andree has a problem that is being taken care of by a surgeon in Brockville.
      I will be nursing Andree here at home after she is operated on the 25th. in Brockville. I will bring her home to Belleville on the 26th or 27th, we will see how things go.
      Sorry we won’t be there with all of you, have a great time!!
      Ian

      • Habfan10912 says:

        Best wishes to Andree mt friend. So sorry you won’t be able to make it. We shall meet soon I hope. CHeers.

        ———————————–

        • Ian Cobb says:

          Andree just came home from church and I showed the notice for the 26th. She told me that I could still go to Hamilton on the 26th. Hmmm, maybe there is a chance yet!!


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