detroit jan 24The Detroit Red Wings handed the Canadiens their third loss in a row 4-1 Friday night in Detroit.  Henrik Zetterberg led the way with a goal and assist.  Riley Sheahan, Niklas Kronwall and Gustav Nyquist also scored for the Wings.  Brendan Gallagher for the Canadiens.  The Canadiens outshot Detroit 31-26.  The victory moved the Red Wings  into the final wild-card Stanley Cup Playoff position in the Eastern Conference and to within three points of the Canadiens who are fourth in the conference.

Adding It Up –

No Answers – Out of sheer desperation Michel Therrien has juggled his lines and defensive pairings in hopes of re-kindling some life and enthusiasm out of a lineup that has lost it’s scoring touch and it’s confidence.  Nothing is working.  This is looking more and more like the team that most pre-season pundits felt would not make the playoffs.

Gone Dry – Five-on-five the Canadiens rank 29th in the league with only 74 goals.  Only Buffalo is worse.  In their three game losing streak the Canadiens scored five goals, three of them at even strength.  The power play has produced six power play goals over their last 50 opportunities and have dropped out of the top ten in the league.

Feeding on Itself – With the exception of the 2-1 win over Chicago, the Canadiens haven’t played a solid 60 minute game in six weeks and you might argue that, as exciting as the 2-1 win over the Hawks, you might argue even that game had it’s issues.  As the slump has continued, the Canadiens style of play has grown progressively worse especially in their own end.

Under FireCarey Price has given up four goals or more in five straight games, a total of 22 of them and I’m sure there might be one or two of them that he might like to have back, but 95% of them have come through sloppy play in front of him.  Andrei Markov’s game has gone south on him.  Alexei Emelin and Josh Gorges are part of the problem.  And the forwards are going little to help them out.

No Urgency – On the scoreboard the Canadiens still had a chance to come back as the third period began.  In reality, they had no chance because they had no energy in the tank.  There were nine shots, but nothing that will make a highlight reel.  The lack of confidence was there for all to see.  The Canadiens were guilty of overpassing, looking for the perfect play and of course, as they were all night, second on the puck.

Also Worth Mentioning – ….It seems to me that Nathan Beaulieu is a keeper.  He seems to have that sixth sense required when it comes to knowing when to go on the attack.  And for the second straight game he had a clean slate defensively.  ……Despite giving up four more goals, Carey Price was again very good.  The Canadiens are giving up more than twenty scoring chances a game in a league that strives to limit the opposition to around twelve.  …..Lars Eller seems more noticeable on left wing that he has been the last two months as a centre.  Plekanec/Gionta/Eller produced 14 of the Canadiens 31 shots, five of them from Plekanec.  They had a pretty good night in the offensive zone with their forecheck.  ……Defenceman Douglas Murray seemed to be in the middle of everything while getting the most icetime (18:26) of the season.  He wound up minus-2 but his brute strength along the boards made me think that he has value alongside Josh Gorges. 

Moving On – They Canadiens are home for two games, Washington Saturday night and Carolina Tuesday then they have to go into Boston for Thursday.