Habs Goalie: Price (L)
Opposition Goalie: Fleury (W)
Habs goalscorers: Darche
Opposition goalscorers: Neal, Vitale, Asham
A game of that has not done wonders for my memory. Maybe I'm imagining that there was even a good play. But in my mind I am seeing a rush by Lars Eller where he protects the puck, storms behind the net and connects with his forward in front. Too bad the next part of the sequence was a return to futility with "goalscorer" Erik Cole putting a goalscorer's chance right into the goalie.
The guy has yet to convince me that he'll ever score 10 NHL goals in a season, but he doesn't need to convince me that he's trying. That I can see. He stepped in and did a decent fill-in for Gomez, something that probably hurt the Habs more than it helped (see description of budding chemistry above).
He is what he is, but get this guy the puck can they? His shot from the tightest angle on the PP was the only thing that looked threatening on all the man advantages. If Mike can continue to get open and Jacques can just concentrate on getting him someone that can feed him then goals may come.
Apart from one lucky shot and an Eller rush, the best offensive chances came when Desharnais got a view of an open winger. The report will say that he was minus 2 and had no shots, but in a game where the defenders are pressuring and it's not like it was in Winnipeg then I want to see a little bit of creativity. David showed me a couple of glimpses of that, something I didn't notice at all elsewhere tonight. That's a dome for me.
Remember last year when Subban was doing OK for a rookie? That's sort of what he looks like now. He's clearly got skills that we risk taking for granted every time we see him and he plays his heart out sometimes. The thing is, he's just misjudging situations far too often, taking shots when his teammates are open and vice versa. He's still the best defender for this team, even with the bad rushes and big wind ups. The fact we all now expect more doesn't change that.
Hal Gill - Game Puck
In an ideal world, with open hockey, no injuries and no salary cap you wouldn't have Hal Gill on your team. But the NHL is not that world. The Canadiens have to manage without Markov and Spacek, with Gorges looking ever more like he missed a season, with two D on learners' permits and two others in their second seasons. Gill doesn't do everything, but he does what he does and you can count on that much. I imagine that's why he reached his 1000th game this evening and was playing in an city where he once played for a champion. On another night, he'd also have had an assist on the score-opening goal, but Darche mauled that clear break.
This was borderline stuff from Carey. Yes, he did make 4 or 5 huge saves when the team needed him to, and yes, he didn't really have anything to be ashamed of on the goals that went in. But guess what? It's another 3 goals, more than 9% of shots went in, Aaron Asham scored on you. It wasn't exactly heroic. What made it so much more borderline for me, and probably the main cause of the frustration here, is that Carey was so cavalier with puck handling and in doing that gave up several good chances to Pittsburgh. He was on a level with his teammates this evening.
It's predictable that after a loss where the team pats itself on the back and puts its record to misfortune that they should come out and shoot blanks from every position on the ice.
This game was a chore to watch. Were it not for the need to write this report tonight, I think I'd have switched to the Toronto Boston affair, they were playing hockey. I have a sneaky feeling that Pittsburgh played really well and my Habs goggles prevented me from truly appreciating the extent of their dominance. But I don't really want to let our team off the hook so easily. I mean, honestly? How does a team back up their talk of contention if they end up smothered by Letestu, top line center?
What to do? Luckily the answer might be simple enough. Appeal to the pride and the basest desire in each of these players to be a winner, bred from the earliest age. Toronto at home is the perfect tonic for this. Light the fire tonight and let's see the fire on Saturday. Sure, it could be barnburning effort in a loss, but anything beats what we had to put ourselves through as fans this evening.