Habs Goalie: Price (L)
Opposition Goalie: Pavelec (W)
Habs goalscorers: None
Opposition goalscorers: Wheeler (2), Glass, Stapleton
After Kaberle made one of the worst plays of the year, definitely the game, the Thrashers broke in clean on Price shorthanded. Price saved the first shot, gave up a rebound and slid across to preserve the 3-0 deficit for a while. Woo-hoo.
This guy had no business being the player showing the most passion. He's not from Montreal, he's not even from Canada. He isn't a Canadiens career player, he's a journeyman likely with no future with this team. He played hard because he's a professional who can't live with the dissonance that losing brings (I presume). he just won little battles and did very little that would be recognized on most nights. It says something when you can sincerely say we need more players like Nokelainen.
Louis has some talent, perhaps not enough to deal with this mess on his own. He had some opportunity to show his instincts at times. But like so many Habs forwards with instincts, it was all for naught on the scoresheet. Still, a dim light on the horizon here.
You can see it in his face. He is asking why when he is on a slump that no one else is able to fill in. A 60 point guy on 60 point pace. he played OK tonight and got the best honest chances. He's the only player you can look at and begin to suggest bad luck up front.
Alexei Emelin - Game Puck
Same as Nokelainen, he doesn't have the obligation to do what he did in this one. He played hard and at times very smart. He made some of the best breakout passes of the whole game and drew a penalty brilliantly. This is brilliant news for the Habs who cannot go on playing 5 offensive defencemen who have no wherewithal at the back forever. Emelin can find his way around the first two zones and is showing that rare quality on this Habs team - improvement.
Again he was less bad than a few of his peers and makes the cut. He was better on the PP than Weber who played longer minutes and safer in the defensive end than the robotic Gill and Gorges.
Price had his moments, but he also has to do better. In the net, I have little to hold against him, but with a defensive unit as chaotic as this one, there is no excuse for playing the puck the way he has been. He needs to help his weakling partners back there by mkaing things simpler, not more complicated for them. It's not ideal, but for a veteran and leader of this team now, he must lead by compromising on his boredom release tactic.
What a shambles.
The Canadiens skated into the Christmas holidays with the most lacklustre effort I have had to sit through in a while. How many times do I have to watch a trailing team fight for 20 seconds to win the puck in their own end only to promptly dump the puck back to the opponent so a line change can be made exactly on time. How many times do I have to watch a shot from the outside on goalies who are clearly showing they are not troubled (didn't Martin teach you anything about easy defence and outside shots?).
The team nearly to a man is showing no nuance, no appreciation for the situation's they get themslevs into. How can a team approach the beginning of the third period of a game in which they trial by 3, in a streak that threatens to total 5 losses, within a season that slips through the fingers? The team is disinvested in the process and unmotivated by the outcomes. This has gone beyond slump in finish, to slump in start, follow-through and end. The feet do the talking in this case and most times, like the score board, they are not moving. Nor are the mouths, which is scary for other reasons.
Looking at the positive, this new depth may just prompt more than a patch. Perhaps practices will gain focus. Perhaps players will start to ask serious questions. Perhaps coaches will hold the responsible to some account.
Next game will see the return of two players who have shown they like to take matters into their own hands. With the spur of a benching, perhaps some more focus to the efforts of Subban and Eller is to come. One can only hope.
More importantly, we break now. Enjoy the time off, savour some fine wine and cheese. Enjoy the company of those you love. Merry Christmas to all. We didn't get a win for Christmas, but our team gave us the gift of endless conversation topics for Sunday's meal.