Sunday, October 08, 2017

Ovechkin Capitalizes on Montreal's Shortcomings

Date: 07/10/2017
Opponent: Washington
Location: Capital One Arena
Loss: 6-1

Montreal Goalie: Price (L)
Washington Goalie: Holtby (W)

Montreal goalscorers: Gallagher
Washington goalscorers: Ovechkin (4), Oshie, Walker

Pre Game

I have to admit, after a win in Buffalo, as ugly as it was, my selective memory had forgotten all the shortcomings that Montreal had going into and coming out of the preseason.  I had forgotten how ugly they had played, at times, against Buffalo and decided to only remember the win.  Excited to make it two in a row, I looked forward to the duel between Alexander Ovechkin and Carey Price.

20 seconds into the game I was reminded of how terrible our defense are at clearing the zone and marking opposing players.  A little over two minutes later the duel was over.  It was obvious Ovechkin was going to win this round and the Capitals this game.  The next 57 minutes were tough to watch and I wonder how the Canadiens will respond Sunday against the Rangers.

Dome hockey team

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


Brendan Gallagher

Gallagher was skating hard all night, continuing to get in those uncomfortable places and was rewarded with a goal.  His tenacity also drew at least one penalty.  Unfortunately, the Canadiens made a mockery of the ensuing power play.

Thomas Plekanec

Despite the Canadiens being all but a no show tonight Thomas was part of a line that gave the Canadiens a spark.  It gave fleeting hope to die hard fans but also showed that his own sub par play against Buffalo would not be a trend that he would continue.

Charlies Hudon

Charles was another player noticeably absent in Buffalo.  Charles, along with Thomas, gave some energy to the Canadiens when they desperately needed it.  A couple of strong shifts by this line helped Montreal dig their skates in and get going.  While Washington did make it 4-0 before the end of the period, it could have been even more were it not for these two players working hard and creating some sustained pressure in the Capitals' zone.


Shea Weber - Game Puck

He, literally, was the only Canadiens defensemen who played at an NHL level tonight.  He was also the only defenseman who wasn't a give away machine in his own zone.  Combine that with the rocket of a shot he had on that brilliant power play the Canadiens had in the second period that very nearly made it 4-2 and he is a dome must tonight.

Victor Mete

I personally hope this is the first dome of many for this young man but tonight he's not here for anything he did.  He was just as bad in his own end as anyone else.  He's here for his potential to improve.  At 10 and 20 years his senior the other four defensemen, played a thoughtless, cowardly games that I wouldn't pick for a game of road hockey, let alone put in a dome to play 60 minutes at an NHL level.


Al Montoya

The first goal was a spin around shot that was fortunate to get through 3 Canadiens pylons.  The second goal was a save off a deflection that went right to the stick of an oncoming forward.  I thought Price came across awkwardly on the third goal and if he came across square he probably would have saved it but was probably expecting a one timer and got across as fast as he could.  The fourth goal was a tip in from point blank range.  What can you do?  Al makes the dome more so because the team in front of him didn't play as lousy as they did in front of Price. 

Post Game

Ouch.  That was a very tough game to watch and just as tough to write about.  The Canadiens came out flat, as a team, with few exceptions.  They didn't compete, were soft on the puck, and didn't skate hard.  If you combine the lack of effort with their preexisting shortcomings... well, you see the result.  Unfortunately, I don't believe this to be a blip in the radar.

Price's play was more due to being victimized by the lack of effort in front of him than anything he did, same as Montoya.  Weber was actually pretty good tonight which is amazing considering how poorly the other five defensemen played.  Not one person, Benn, Mete, Streit, Petry, or Alzner, moved their feet enough to close down attackers, get sticks in passing lanes, make the opposition pay physically or even know where attackers where with relation to themselves or their net.  The struggles clearing the zone continued and were as bad as I've seen from this group.  I will give the benefit of the doubt with regards to it being a new system with new teammates under a new coach and will continue to do so for a while, but that benefit won't last forever.  If there's an optional morning skate on Sunday, neither one of these guys should opt out of it.

The Good News is that Weber is showing that, despite his age and his, so-called, best days being behind him, he is still an elite defensemen who shows up to play night in and night out.  We also saw a couple of players who were noticeably quiet against Buffalo, Plecanec and Hudon, show some spark tonight.  We're also seeing a rejuvenated Gallagher bouncing back nicely from an injury plagued season.

The Bad News is they still can't score.  Gaining Drouin and losing Radulov in the off season was a lateral move at best.  We're not better offensively and we need to be if we want to be a legitimate Cup contender.  I've seen the stats for both Drouin and Galchenyuk while playing at centre coming into this season and Galchenyuk, statistically speaking, is a better centre so why the Canadiens have given up on him in that position is baffling to me.  I'm sure Drouin will improve under Claude Julien as I'm sure Galcnhenyuk would have.  I don't like their power play set up.  Sure, they looked brilliant on one of them in the second period last night, but they were average at best for most of their opportunities.  They need a garbage man.  Someone to get in front of that net.  Why Gallagher isn't there, especially considering the chemistry he's exhibiting with Drouin and Pacioretty is beyond me.   In general the offence needs work.  They've only scored 3 goals on 79 shots!  I can't imagine Julien being satisfied with that.  I see why he would stay the course after only 2 games, one of which was a win, but this lack of scoring isn't a new problem.

The ugly part of the game was definitely Montreal's play in their own zone.  The inability to pick up attackers and not being able to take a hit, if needed, and make a professional grade pass to a teammate occurred far too often last night.  It seems like puck moving and agility are a problem for our defensemen.  With the departure of two very mobile puck moving defensemen in Markov and Beaulieu from last years line up it shouldn't be a wonder that this is an issue.  Let's hope the new guys can get this sorted out before long.

Despite their shortcomings in the playoffs, losing to the eventual Stanley Cup Champions in seven games isn't really a shortcoming in my mind, the Washington Capitals are one of the best teams in the league.  They are where we want the Canadiens to be.  They took full advantage of Montreal's shortcomings and made them pay dearly.  There's still good news though.  It's only one game.  They're 1-1 on this road trip and they probably won't play worse against the Rangers.  Let's hope the Habs use this as a wake up call and come out hungry against a team stung by 8 goals themselves against Toronto.



  1. That was a brutal game to watch. The team can't control the centre of the ice on offense or defense, and it is leading to the lack of scoring for and the glut of scoring against.

    From my perspective, they need to unshackle Galchenyuk and get him his confidence back. he is a player that would drive to the middle. Drouin is a player who can do it too. Why the habs think they must only have one player like this is baffling.

    On defense, I think time will heal the problem a bit. The parings all being new is showing through. Players don't really know where their partners will be. In the past, we'd have one pairing like this, but in losing 3 regulars this off-season, it is team wide. Once the players gain the understanding of their partnerships and get into sync, the apparent deficits in speed and anticipation will be resolved somewhat by better positioning. I would note that I believe Mete should remain, and the team should stick to the commitment they made when they decided to keep him in Montreal ... work withh him, allow him to get up to speed, and the dividend will be paid in future seasons.

    Finally a word on Carey Price. As good as he is, for Bergevin's plan to work he really must be the foremost goalie in the league. The team cannot afford to have him play like the 7th or 8th best because they have wrapped too much money into his contract and too little into the defense.

  2. There's nothing you've said here that's at all debatable from my point of view. For all the shortcomings the Habs have displayed so far this season I haven't hit the panic button yet. If 10 games made up a season the Canadiens would have been the Stanley Cup Champions the last two years.

    I'm a little concerned about how Galchenyuk has been handled. It'd be a shame to lose him due to mismanagement.