Habs Goalie: Price (L)
Opposition Goalie: Brodeur (W)
Habs goalscorers: Subban, Campoli, Eller
Opposition goalscorers: Sykora, Elias (2), Clarkson, Zubrus
In need of a goal, the Canadiens needed to take advantage of a PP. They were able to do that on their first opportunity of the game. It ended in a goal, but the play of the game was the whole collection of play that led up to it including good battles won by Cammalleri, keep ins by Kaberle and Subban and strong play from Plekanec and Cole. The sustained pressure meant the Canadiens could be patient and it was the most patient shuffle back and then across that opened a shooting lane on a perfectly screened Brodeur for PK Subban.
Lars Eller - Game Puck
Looking for clues as to why Martin was let go? Tonight Eller played the most ES minutes of any forward and he played on the PK. He played well too. Hopefully Cunneyworth will find a way to channel a player who is capable of burning opponents on his offside to cut into the net, who is capable of outmuscling bigger players with strong balance, who can score goals like the one he did.
It was a typical Andrei game. His best moments were all of the offensive variety and he made a couple of plays that will lead his critics to claim he doesn't pay attention. But he was certainly the most dangerous forward on the ice in re, had the most dangerous shots and made that one jaw-dropping play that we all wish he'd do more often.
Consider this an indictment of those that had the chance to step up and didn't. Plekanec was OK, nothing spectacular for most of his shifts. He had a clean sheet on the PK over 5 minutes and was part of that PP goal for his 3 minutes of PP time. But when down someone needed to step up and make a play and no one could muster it. So instead Mr. Steady gets the dome here with nothing over steady play.
Something has been off this season with Subban. In the off season we had been talking about the best prospect this organization had had in years. This sophomore slump (if it's that) was batting away at that warm weather optimism. But tonight, tonight of Martin's release, Subban seemed to show some release of his own and make a few rushes that didn't end in a memory of the coach berating him. He showed signs of the exuberance that makes him great and what makes Montreal love hockey. It didn't hurt that he scored a goal too.
His pass on the PP was sublime. he was making it before Cammalleri knew he would even feed the pass. Such is this player's comfort on the point in the PP. he buys the team seconds, not just milliseconds and it pays off in goals when they can get in the zone. Add to this that his peers were at times utterly atrocious (Campoli) and it makes his claim an easy one.
Carey made some serious saves, don't get me wrong. It was probably a tad of bad luck, but he didn't give his team a chance to win. Perhaps we blame Kevin Weekes who was still praising Price for a save when he allowed a goal on the identical chance. or perhaps we heap a little more blame on coach long gone s=who never saw fit to rest Carey despite many many games just like this with errors abounding.
The Cunneyworth era nearly looked like it would begin with a high note for a while in the second period. But some odd decisions with Nokelainen on the ice at strange times (and Campoli) made sure Martin's last day would be a Martin style loss. The Devils are a formidable opponent when they want to be and they showed it here with the better counter-attack of the night.
The changes that were made by the coach weren't drastic. But nor would we expect them to be hours into a tenure. The play proceeded as it likely would have if JM had been there. What changes lie ahead are uncertain. Cunneyworth coaxed better results from a depleted Hamilton team than this year's staff can and managed to have them scoring, so he may be suited to a team of middling talent and laden with injury. I would welcome, personally, any approach that seizes the initiative and makes the Habs run games rather than wait for results. I guess we'll see.
Of note other than the coaching were the play of Campoli and the implosion of Erik Cole. Campoli the stop gap has hopefully signed his own press box pass with his play tonight. He scored a goal that must be labeled one-off, after all it came off a Hal Gill pinch. He was Briseboiesque most of the rest of the time. Cole took several silly penalties including one that cost a goal and another that was the wrong kind of hit. He should be suspended for that play and this will hurt the team, just as his play off the puck hurt the team tonight. A rare series of lapses from a player who to this point has been nearly impeccable in bleu, blanc, rouge.