Habs Goalie: Condon (L)
Opposition Goalie: Niemi (W)
Habs goalscorers: Carr, Byron
Opposition goalscorers: Spezza, Benn (2), Sharp, Seguin, Eaves
Daniel Carr – Game PuckDan scored a nifty little goal in the second period to make it 3-1 and had another great chance late in the third. Scooping the puck around the outstretched leg of Niemi, then bring the puck back the right side of goal before tucking it in was a nice showcase of the young forwards agility. With a little less than 3 minutes left in the third, Carr showed his hockey awareness by getting back onside, receiving the long pass from Markov and having himself another quality scoring opportunity. On a night when far too many Canadiens took the night off, Carr didn’t.
Paul ByronPaul’s goal was excellent. Speed, agility, and a worthy finish. The play of the game was enough to get him into the dome tonight.
There was slim pickins tonight for the dome. What I especially liked from Lars was this. In the third period with the score 6-2 and Dallas on the power play (again), Therrien was incensed at the opposing coach for trying to run up the score. Eller responded by skating harder, throwing a hit, driving to the net and pinning Dallas in their own end, all while shorthanded. In a game where little passion was shown, Eller showed that at least he wanted to be there and was taking this loss and lacklustre effort to heart.
Andrei MarkovEmelin was terrible (although that shot he took in the first period may have taken its tole), Subban wasn’t much better and neither was Gilbert, and Petry didn’t finish the game. That being said Markov wasn’t bad. Perhaps responding to his recent relegation to the third pairing. He was sound defensively and contributed offensively with some intelligent plays, capped off by his stretch pass to Carr late in the third.
Nathan BeaulieuThe other solid defenseman tonight, Nathan was also reliable in his own zone posting the only positive plus/minus for the Habs on the night.
Dustin TokarskiWhile I don’t blame Condon for the loss (I do think he should have had the first one) at some point an NHL calibre goaltender has to make a save to give their team a chance. Condon has done this but not so much lately. I’ve been easy on him this year, washing him of all blame and throwing it on the backs of his teammates in front of him. Not tonight. Condon needs to play better or Tokarski needs to play more.
CommentsEight power plays, three of which were for flipping the puck over the glass. Subban did it twice! The second period flow was killed as there was a parade to the penalty box. A team struggling to put wins on the board even when playing well can’t afford a game like this. I feel after a game like this there’s only one thing to do. Go back to the lineup that worked for October and November. It’s crazy but it just might work.
There are three skaters missing from opening night. Gallagher (injured), Smith-Pelly (injured), Semin (KHL). The line of Fleischmann, Descharnais, and Weise was working. There was no reason to change it and I thought this second line slipped into a third line role was fantastic and really playing havoc with the third lines of other teams with the ability to slip into a second line role if need be. Then there was Galchenyuk, Eller, and Semin. Chucky/Eller were actually better off without Semin. When Andrighetto was put on that line it was fun to watch. Three young men who could all skate and loved taking the puck to the net. They were having some success together and looked like they were having fun while doing it. I understand that keeping guys up from the IceCaps for too long causes salary troubles but I would simply keep Eller and Galchenyuk together and continue to roll in the young wingers. Carr, for instance seems to have enough talent and hockey sense to give playing on a line with these guys a go.
Our first line was clicking. Pacioretty, Plekanec, and Gallagher were off to a great start. With Gallagher injured and his replacement on the line (Smith-Pelly) also injured and no one else really able to step into that role I can see why Therrien is experimenting with that wing. I don’t understand why he’d risk disrupting team chemistry buy mixing and matching with players from the other lines. This isn’t a game of potato head. The belief that players either have chemistry or they don’t is erroneous. Sure, some players just can’t play together but most players need to learn to play with each other to be truly effective. Very rarely are players thrown together and just click. Price was injured before and the team did just fine. Granted, Condon was a little sharper than he has been playing lately, but the team looks disorganized and disoriented to me and either they’ve all collectively forgotten how to play as a team (which is unlikely) or something is messing with their cohesion as a unit.
The mixing up of the lines (and defensive pairings; see Markov relegated to the third pair) and the failure of the special teams over the last two weeks are coaching issues. While I believe lines should stay as solid as possible barring injury and severely slumping players, special teams need to be constantly tweeked. Everyone looks at tapes and coaches eventually find holes in opposition special teams so coaches need to constantly be changing things up. I think it’s time for a change.
6-2 isn’t a great showing for their first of a long road trip. If you break it down and remove the 4 PP goals then add the two posts Montreal hit in the first period and you’ve got a 4-2 game for the good guys. You take that with the fact that this was probably the worst game Montreal has played this season and it doesn’t spell the end of the world. Still, Montreal’s next game will be the most important they’ve played this season to date. They need to bounce back after a thumping like this and break out of this slump. I put Gallagher and Price back in the lineup in my letter to Santa. Let’s see if the big guy can deliver.