Wednesday, October 18, 2017

Canadiens Come Up Dry in San Jose

Date: 17/10/2017
Opponent: San Jose
Location: SAP Center
Loss: 5-2

Montreal Goalie: Price (L)
San Jose Goalie: Jones (W)

Montreal goalscorers:  Drouin, Weber
San Jose goalscorers: Couture (2), Pavelski, Hertl, Thornton

Pre Game

This season has been tough to watch and a trip to California has meant 3 losses more years than not.  To add 3 losses to their already bad record will add fuel to the fire for those panic stricken fans calling for the heads of everyone from Geoff Molson down.  I wasn't confident going into this one.

But like the blindly optimistic Habs fan I am (you'd have to be to continue being so during this 24 year Cupless drought), I hoped that, just like the Leafs beating the Canadiens Saturday night, the Canadiens would find a way to end their drought against the Sharks.

Dome hockey team

The 6 players we're playing in a no changes, do or die contest in the dome


Jonathan Drouin

Another goal and an assist for Jonathan and, for his part, offence is not a problem.  If only he'd start rubbing off on the captain, Max Pacioretty.

Charles Hudon

No points but he got some shots on net and took the body when it was available to take.  Effort and the ability to play even hockey is better than what we're getting out of most right now.

Paul Byron 

More shots on net, more hitting, and more even hockey.  I'd actually like to see Drouin play a shift or two with these guys (obviously, I am putting them in the dome) to see what he could muster away from the uninspired and uninspiring Pacioretty. 


Karl Alzner 

Karl Alzner didn't play too bad tonight and he chipped in with an assist.  If he can just keep things simple in his own end on a regular basis the Canadiens would be a better team for it.

Jeff Petry

Another solid game by Petry.  We need our defence to keep the puck out of dangerous areas, to physically manhandle opponents trying to park near our crease, and to move the puck quickly and accurately out of our zone.  Petry, for the most part, has done that in back to back games.  If his pairing can keep up the solid play, we should get back on track.


Carey Price

We've got an odd bounce and loose defensive coverage on the first goal, a plinko second goal, a lucky misplay on the third and Thornton's stick forcing his right pad back making a save impossible on the fourth.  I haven't been easy on Carey during this young season but this game was an episode from the Twilight Zone for him and I don't know if building a brick and mortar wall across the goal line would have had the Canadiens fare much better.

Post Game

This was a game of oddities.  The defence could have played a little better, Price too.  They could have taken a few less penalties.  Certainly some of the forwards could have contributed more.  The coach could be a little more creative in solving some of the problems that are being faced, but if you take away the special teams and the empty netter it's a 2-1 hockey game.

The Good News is that the Canadiens are nearly playing par 5 v 5.  Logan Couture's first goal might have been a planned play.  Hertl might have known that spot on the boards was lively and hit it on purpose.  No one was expecting a bounce like that with the exception of Hertl and Couture (maybe).  Price over slide to his left in order to stop a potential quick shot by Couture and when Logan waited out Carey's initial reaction he easily tucked it into an open net.  It could have been just a bad shot and a lucky bounce.  Speaking of which, that second goal was as wild of a combination of lucky (or unlucky bounces) as I've ever seen.  Combine that with Drouin's nicely placed 5 v 5 goal of his own and the Canadiens are now back in the ball park to get some wins.

The Bad News is they're special teams are terrible.  While we did get the second power play goal in as many games, their penalty kill has been atrocious this season.  Except for the game against the Leafs they've been sitting back and allowing teams time to set up and pass the puck around until they find a seam.  It seems to me that they were better on the penalty kill last year because they were more aggressive, not letting the opposition really settle; certainly not as easily.  Some better special teams play and some of the closer games they've lost could have gone the other way.

The ugliness currently coming to the forefront in my mind is the abysmal play of captain Max Pacioretty.  He's not creating quality chances, he's not getting into spots where he can be fed the puck for quality shots, and he's been the primary cause of no less than three goals against.  He's shown very little chemistry with Drouin, something our best scorer needs with whoever is playing as his centre. 

They still need a few tweaks 5 on 5 for sure but they are nearly there.  Even the most optimistic fan recognises the need for results over just good play.  It's tough to focus on failing special teams when you've still got game costing issues at even strength.  I don't think they're there yet but the time is coming to have serious discussions about personnel changes.

The second game in as many nights has the Canadiens visiting Los Angeles, a team much better put together so far this year than the Sharks.  Just when the Canadiens could use a pizza served up to them they head into another arena that they've had very little recent success in.  It's going to take some character to break out of this slump under these circumstances.  I know Carey can't play this bad for much longer.  I'm just waiting for him to break out of his funk and right this ship.  He might be the only player with the ability to do so.


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