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)