The Canadiens death-watch is on.   The 3-0 loss to the Capitals and Carolina’s win over Los Angeles Saturday night dropped the Habs into last place in the Eastern Conference and 27th in the league.

Twenty-three days to the trade deadline and they have taken another step toward qualification for the NHL draft lottery.  If the draft were held tomorrow, the Canadiens would be picking 4th overall.

Randy Cunneyworth says that, unlike the Buffalo game earlier in the week, his team ‘competed’ against Washington.  All that tells the listener is, hard as they might ‘compete’, the team is not good enough to beat a team that also competes.

Adding It Up –

…..Got Their Number – This marked the third consecutive time the Canadiens were shutout on home ice by the Capitals.   Tomas Vokoun joined Michal Neuvirth who turned the trick 17 days ago.   Last March it was Braden Holtby.  In those games, Washington goaltending stopped 79 consecutive shots, while scoring seven goals.  It was the Capitals fifth win in a row at the Bell Centre and their first win on the road since the last time they shutout the Canadiens on January 18th.

…..Plumbing the Depths – The Canadiens had only a half dozen scoring chances in the game including nothing in the first period that even closely resembled a difficult moment for Vokoun.  By my count the total scoring chances were 14-6 in favour of the Capitals with Erik Cole finally getting free twice in the third period.  Pacioretty had a great chance in the second but fanned on a setup from Cole.   Other than that, little to report.

…..Encouragement –  At least I prefer to think of it as encouragement and not sarcasm.  The  crowd tried to cheer Scott Gomez each time he carried the puck, hoping he would end his scoring drought which is now officially one year and 58 games (including playoff) in duration.  Gomez had two shots on goal and another one blocked.  His last goal, if you hadn’t heard, was Feb. 5 of last year against the Rangers.

…..Bright Light – A solid game from Rene Bourque.  He’s been bounced back and forth with Kostitsyn from left to right wing on the Plekanec line.  He was the left winger in this game and the line had it’s moments although, like almost everyone else, their path to the net was almost totally blocked by the collapsing Washington defense.

…..Same Sad Story – If there is one thing you can take from all of the things that have gone wrong this season, it’s the Canadiens inability to get the puck to the net.  There is no-one among the Canadiens point-men who has the ability to create shooting lanes through which to send the puck all the way to the goal.  The Capitals blocked 27 shots.

……The Game Goat – Tomas Kaberle was flat-out awful in this game.  We’re used to the soft nature of his game, but what was startling in this game was his complete lack of attention to detail.  The official scorers credited him with only one giveaway which was generous.  A Kaberle blind pass created the Alexander Semin breakaway that led to the third period penalty shot and the goal that sealed the Canadiens fate.

Alexander Semin Scores on Capitals Second Penalty Shot of the Game

A Canadiens First –   Never in their history had the Canadiens faced two penalty shots in a game.  Peter Budaj threw his stick on a second period Troy Brouwer breakaway, which is an automatic penalty shot.   Budaj stopped that one.   At 11:37 of the third, Tomas Kaberle was forced to give chase and haul down  Alexander Semin after giving the puck away at the Washington line.    Semin scored on that penalty shot to give the Capitals the 3-0 lead.

…..Worth Mentioning – …..Very good game from both Josh Gorges and P.K. Subban, especially Gorges.  Subban handled the puck very well and was very good about keeping himself out of trouble.   …..Not much to say about the two recent Hamilton call-ups.  Cunneyworth put Louis Leblanc at centre with  Aaron Palushaj on the fourth line.  At times they had Darche, Pacioretty, Bourque and Cole on their left wing.  Palushaj logged 8:20, Leblanc 9:08.  Neither is ready for regular NHL work.  …Peter Budaj was adequate.  The winning goal was a knuckleball sinker that froze Budaj in the crease, the second goal was the result of goalmouth pressure and the third was a startling penalty shot slapshot.

Ahead – The Winnipeg Jets Sunday afternoon at 2.00pm then Pittsburgh Tuesday and on the road for the Islanders and Toronto Thursday and Saturday.

The Corsi/Fenwick Numbers

Shots directed at net while a player was on the ice at even strength, excluding empty net situations

Game Number Team Player Number Goals Saved shots Missed Shots Fenwick+/- Blocked Shots Corsi+/-
20769 MTL 11 – C – GOMEZ, SCOTT 0 0 7 2 1 1
5
6 5
6
20769 MTL 14 – C – PLEKANEC, TOMAS 0 1 10 6 4 1
6
4 5
5
20769 MTL 17 – D – CAMPOLI, CHRIS 0 0 7 5 3 2
3
9 5
7
20769 MTL 22 – D – KABERLE, TOMAS 0 2 7 8 4 2
-1
6 4
1
20769 MTL 26 – D – GORGES, JOSH 0 0 12 5 5 2
10
11 6
15
20769 MTL 27 – R – BOURQUE, RENE 0 1 8 5 6 1
7
6 4
9
20769 MTL 30 – G – BUDAJ, PETER 0 2 27 18 11 6
12
26 15
23
20769 MTL 46 – L – KOSTITSYN, ANDREI 0 1 9 5 4 1
6
4 4
6
20769 MTL 51 – C – DESHARNAIS, DAVID 0 1 6 6 2 3
-2
10 4
4
20769 MTL 52 – L – DARCHE, MATHIEU 0 0 8 3 2 2
5
7 7
5
20769 MTL 60 – R – PALUSHAJ, AARON 0 0 4 4 3 1
2
5 1
6
20769 MTL 61 – D – DIAZ, RAPHAEL 0 0 7 8 3 1
1
8 5
4
20769 MTL 67 – L – PACIORETTY, MAX 0 1 8 9 1 2
-3
13 3
7
20769 MTL 71 – C – LEBLANC, LOUIS 0 0 4 4 4 1
3
6 1
8
20769 MTL 72 – L – COLE, ERIK 0 1 8 6 4 4
1
12 4
9
20769 MTL 74 – D – EMELIN, ALEXEI 0 2 9 5 3 2
3
7 3
7
20769 MTL 75 – D – GILL, HAL 0 0 1 0 0 1
0
2 0
2
20769 MTL 76 – D – SUBBAN, P.K. 0 0 11 5 4 2
8
9 7
10
20769 MTL 81 – C – ELLER, LARS 0 0 9 4 2 1
6
5 7
4