Montreal Canadiens offer up a Stinker

The much anticipated home opener for the Montreal Canadiens was this evening at the Bell Centre. The opening ceremonies were a lack-luster affair, with the highlight being the names of the players showing up on the ice. The team was introduced by the public address announcer, the Habs came out and acknowledged the capacity crowd. The Anthem was performed by the Montreal Symphony Orchestra - with the crowd singing. There was no ceremonial face off - then the game started. 

The Habs started with a lot of energy and pep with Andrei Kostitsyn scoring on a beautiful set up by Max Pacioretty on a two-on-one. It was a nice start for the home town heroes. Then the Habs started getting into penalty trouble. 

Up to this point in the season, the Habs penalty killing has been a strength. In this game it certainly wasn't. Rene Bourque scored on the power play on a good screened shot that went through Carey Price's legs to tie up the game with assists going to Tanguay and Butler.

The parade to the penalty box continued for the Habs. The Flames power play was very good on this evening. Hagman scored on a screen shot that went through Gorges and Price. 

The Flames third goal came on a nice passing play from Tanguay to Moss who slipped it past Price (through the five-hole). No one played the man or the puck. As a result the score after one period was 3-1 Flames.

The second period started with decent chances on both sides - end to end action but Calgary scored once again. The Flames fourth goal had the entire Montreal team watching the puck go by. Price made three saves in a row on both sides of the net before Tanguay finally put it through Price's legs. No one played the man or the puck. 

The third period had some more end to end action. The Habs seemed to show up for part of the third as is their custom but seemed to be going through the motions as the game was out of hand.

The shots on goal favoured the Habs 32-22 at the end of the game. It did not seem that way watching this game though. It was a very quiet 32 shots.

The Flames played a good road game, winning their one-on-one battles and were efficient with their shots. The Flames seem to be a one line team however and the Habs could not stop them.

It may have been all the penalties in the first but it seems to me to be more than that. The Habs has forgotten how to play as a team. There were almost no crisp clear passes. The penalty killing fell apart, the power play was almost non-existent, but they did get their chances, to be clear. Their chances came on the second power play unit with Diaz quarterbacking the play and Weber with the shot. There was much puck movement on the second unit. The first unit needs to be changed to be sure the experiment of Mr. Everything (Plekanec) on the point has to stop - he had tremendous difficulty holding the puck in the zone. 

On a bright note, Diaz looked pretty good on the power play and did not make too many errors. Many more errors were made by Subban and Gill. Gill is notorious for his slow starts and this year is not an exception. He looked tired out there. Lars Eller played a decent game, quite impressive in fact, since it was his first game back with no contact in training camp.

In his press conference after the game, coach Jacques Martin was once again captain obvious - special teams were the difference (the Flames scored 2 power play goals) - they had some chances but did not capitalize. In a word, lack of effort, lack of discipline, and lack of execution did the home team in on this night.

This edition of the Montreal Canadiens has thus far in three games given up two stinkers and were fortunate that the Jets players seemed out of their element during their home opener.

The coaching staff last year had one emotional component in it that would push the players to play with pride when it needed to be done. This years coaching staff seems to have no such element to it. The team has developed an identity, it seems to me, they have picked up Jacques Martin's personality - emotionally constipated and with a sense of entitlement.  These are the same traits that one could have used for the Maple Leafs not that long ago. Hopefully something gives somewhere so that disaster does not happen. Let us hope they have a better showing against an improving Avalanche team on Saturday.

(Picture used with permission from Laura Kenney - if using please credit)


Phil T's picture

If they play like this every game... It's going to be a long year.,,, ending in April

habbykins's picture

Thanks for the comment Phil - and totally agreed. Hopefully they manage to hang on to their draft picks - this season they may be good ones.

George Prax's picture

It's just three games and they have a shit-ton of injuries. Give them some time. We should have expected this kind of start from them anyway. I know they say the games in October mean just as much as the ones in March-April, but then again all teams go through slumps.

habbykins's picture

Yes they have injuries - If there appeared to be effort, it would account for the loss. But for the team to come out of the gate like this really? I am not buying the injury excuse. The team has not shown heart in two out of three games. Markov has hardly played in two seasons, so counting him among the injured is nonsense.

So we will agree to disagree on this one.

George Prax's picture

The way they've suffered all these injuries is incredibly deflating. It's not a matter of talent that the injured players have or what they bring in terms of skill on the ice, but their presence. Markov hasn't played in 2 years, fine, but everyone on that team expected him to start the year in uniform this season and instead the news gets worse every day he isn't in the line-up. White had mysterious surgery that no one knew about the other day, Eller missed all of camp, Campoli, Spacek and Cammalleri now.... these guys' impact on the team varies, but they're losing guy s left and right and it has to be getting to them mentally.

habbykins's picture

All the teams have injuries. The Penguins have some significant ones - and they consistently show an effort. They made a run of it last year without Malkin or Crosby. So using that as an excuse for poor play and possibly poor planning in my opinion is not right. They were mostly healthy the first game of the season against Toronto and the same pattern emerged. Yes it does drag on a team psyche BUT the good news is that the last two injuries are not long term ones at this time. The socks have to be pulled up, cowboy up, man up whatever cliche you want to add and so far it is not happened. Hopefully it does happen soon.

George Prax's picture

It's one thing to have injuries halfway through the year. I don't have the stats in front of me but I'm sure they struggled without Crosby and Malkin at first too. Also, they're MUCH deeper than the Habs, which is also a factor. The other major difference is that the Pens expected to start the year without Crosby so they had time to adjust. The Canadiens, from the sound of it, weren't sure whether they were starting the year without Markov, then lost his replacement and another defenseman (not to mention the Betts fiasco). Then they lost their best sniper and a few others as well. It's really not the same circumstance.

The excuse obviously only goes so far, but there's no need to overreact because they didn't show up for one game, a game where the line-up was incredibly disjointed. Moen started on the freaking first line, Palushaj and Engqvist aren't even supposed to be here, god knows what's happening on defense. It's not 100% fair to blame the remaining players for this.

habbykins's picture

I will not pin a lack of effort on injuries. Some losses can be pinned on injuries no doubt but a lackluster effort and lack of emotion are more to blame for this loss. There is no excusing this. It has happened - now let's see how the Habs respond. Will it put martini on more of a hot seat - perhaps and that is not a bad thing.

Again George I agree to disagree with you.