Location: New York
Habs Goalie: Price (L)
Opposition Goalie: Roloson (W)
Habs goalscorers: Plekanec
Opposition goalscorers: Comeau, Grabner, Parenteau, Wisniewski
There were a few nice things going on with the Habs, but this display hardly deserves recognition of something like that. Instead, a play I thought was very important and very encouraging from the game was the 5-minute major called on Max Pacioretty in the third period. The Canadiens were behind, the Islanders fans were outnumbered, Eaton didn't "protect" himself; there were lots of reasons not to make the call. However, if the league wants to get rid of hits that endanger players, then it needs together a lot firmer on making the calls. It buried my team, and I can see the arguments of those that thought it was grey area. But as a fan who wants to see hockey without senseless injuries, then I applaud the refs convictions for making it.
Tomas Plekanec - Game Puck
One of the reasons we all like Tomas Plekanec is that he delivers a consistent brand of hockey. His effort falls within a tight band between 85-100% and the results tend to follow that in the positive. On nights when teammates are having trouble forgetting eggnog and turkey, Tomas' consistency makes him stand out. His goal was excellent, and he could have had more goals and points with a bit of luck and/or support.
There's holding a player back , and there's holding a player back. When we extol Jacques Martin for doling out Eller's apprenticeship in short doses, we do it when it doesn't cost the team. Tonight, a stubborn reliance on top lines that weren't in the spirit of the game cost the team a win. Eller often looks convincing and determined during his cameos, and it's high time that in games like this, where something new is being sought, that Eller be given a real chance to show what he can do.
Cammalleri played a typical no-goal game for a goalscorer. There were good chances that bounced wide or didn't stick. Through luck and lack of support again, not much came of his efforts this time. He still stood tall over most of his compatriots.
One of the Canadiens most dangerous shots was Gill's. He killed penalties. He defended the AHLers very soundly. If Plekanec's average standard stood out up front, it was Gill's that did so at the back.
Gorges sneaks in here for me. He played a sound game, which is fine. But sometimes against a team like the Islanders, players who play soundly need to do something to rouse their teammates who always provide the spark. Gorges had chances to do that and didn't. That said, it was his excellent "goal line" play and the referee's line of sight that prevented a goal form ending this contest even sooner.
As much as anyone on the team, Carey showed the signs of disdain for the Islanders. The scoresheet says he let in 4 goals and that yet again he committed giveaways without doing any harm, but for the lack of the definitive camera angle he let in five and did get burned for puck play. It's not to say that this isn't forgivable, because after 30+ straight domes, a player deserves a break from the fans. Again we must ask, though, doesn't he also deserve a break from the ice. When will the Habs coach show a little faith in his teammate?
"The Habs didn't show up", I can see the headline. But come on. The team started a road trip with lots of traveling to games in Colorado then Dallas. Then inexplicably to Carolina. The schedule shows the games follow in Long Island, Washington, Tampa and Florida. What it doesn't show is that the team rushed home to have 2 days of Christmas holiday in Montreal before being spirited away from family and friends for a game in front of 2,000 Montrealers and a handful of New Yorkers. It's not a recipe for "showing up".
I thought the coaches might have been more creative in their efforts to coax some life out of this contest. Auld, for instance, would have been excited to start. So would Subban. Eller is raring for ice time. Instead, the coaches decided the formula for success was to go with the trusty old game plan and then decided to stick with it when it was highly apparent it wasn't working. If the players deserve plenty of blame for showing up to work with foggy minds, then the coaches too deserve to be called out for misusing their resources.
Anyway, it's only a game. A single game. Next the team rolls into Washington where they will face a rejuvenated Caps squad and then to Florida, where excuses for lethargy are not as believable. I'd like to see three contests with hard fought results. 3-4 points would be a good turn out.