Call them “Team .500”.  Without an effective power play the Canadiens are doomed to hover around that level for some time to come.  For the second time the Canadiens had the opportunity to go over the breakeven point in their season and for the second time they failed at home.

Adding It Up –

No Finish – The Canadiens worked hard in the first and second periods to build their 2-0 lead and then collectively quit skating in the third period.  The Sabres took the first eight shots of the period and scored twice to tie the game.  The Canadiens had the only power play during the sequence and didn’t come close to threatening.   Why teams self destruct in this manner is a question for the hockey gods.

Can It Get Any Worse?  –  The game started without Michael Cammalleri (lower body) and Hal Gill (illness) joining Markov, Campoli and White.    Jaroslav Spacek tangled with the Sabres Patrick Kaleta early in the second period and appeared to re-injure his ribs.  He didn’t return and that  left the Canadiens with a defense made up of Josh Gorges and the kiddie corps,  rookies Emelin and Diaz and sophomores Subban and Weber. t

Call For Help – With Cammalleri and Gill, the Canadiens added six more injury-man-games to their season total, raising it to 76.  The call will be going out to Hamilton for the third time in the last seven days as defenseman Frederic St. Denis will probably be joining recent arriveals Aaron Palushaj and Andreas Engqvist.  Engqvist, who was called up earlier today because of the Cammalleri injury lasted foru shifts before he suffered a suffered a lower body injury probably when he was checked by Paul Gaustad.  When will it end?

The Good News – The Desharnais/Cole/Pacioretty line had another outstanding night.  The line was responsible for both goals.  Pacioretty and Cole each had a goal and assist and Desharnais drew the first assist on the Pacioretty goal that made it 2-0.  Five of Cole’s nine shot attempts were on-target.  Desharnais had three shots and Pacioretty just one.

The Game Changer – Josh Gorges picked up an inerference penalty at 7:20 of the second period and over the next two minutes the Sabres poured five shots on Carey Price. Tomas Vanek was robbed and Raphael Diaz saved Price on another occasion when he cleared the loose puck out of the crease.   The Sabres didn’t score, but the game’s proverbial worm had turned.    From that point on the Canadiens had lost their rhythm, their forechecking and skating game disappeared and it became Carey Price’s job to salvage something out it all.  From the Gorges penalty to the end of regulation time the Canadiens were outshot 19-9.

Looking Ahead – Their record is still an even .500 (7-7-3) which means they have a chance to break over the barrier again on Wednesday against the Carolina Hurricanes.  But the Canadiens have won only two of nine home games (2-4-3).    Only Colorado, Nashville and Winnipeg have treated their own fans worse than the Canadiens this season.   But if you’re a half-full kind of person, the Canadiens are 6-2-1 their last nine games, which most fans would accept but for that season opening 1-5-2 record.




(more to come)