It was a tough weekend for the Montreal Canadiens. In two home games they could manage only two goals in dropping both games 2-1, the second game Sunday afternoon against the Winnipeg Jets. Michael Frolik took advantage of a bad clearing effort by Carey Price to break a 1-1 tie in the second minute of the third period and the Jets hung on the rest of the way. Tobias Enstrom had given Winnipeg a 1-0 lead in the second period before Brian Gionta scored to tie the game. The Jets outshot the Canadiens 35-31. The three stars were Winnipeg goaltender Al Montoya, Dustin Byfuglien and Rene Bourque.
Adding It Up –
Bad Judgment – We’ll get the Brendan Gallagher incident out of the way right here. The Canadiens had Carey Price out for the extra attacker and were buzzing the goalmouth in the final minute. Brendan Gallagher got caught up with Zach Bogosian behind the net, then in front Gallagher took a punch from Montoya all of this in full view of referee Wes McCauley. Then he was prevented from leaving the zone with a hold and then trip from Bogosian capped by Brad Stuart coming off the bench to flatten him. Three obvious interference fouls, a trip and a roughing penalty in a 13 second span while P.K. Subban was circling at centre ice waiting for Gallagher to get out of the zone.
The Aftermath – Canadiens alternate captain Josh Gorges refused to let Gallagher come out of the room because he was too angry to deal with the media. Gorges didn’t want Gallagher risking a fine. Gorges said, not only were the penalties ignored by McCauley; the referee was yelling at Gallagher for protesting. (You can watch the sequence yourself below – you be the judge)
All of That Said – Only Buffalo scores fewer 5-on-5 goals than the Canadiens at 1.45 per game and they have a power play that has operated at 16% the last 25 games, falling from 4th in the league to 15th. This has nothing to do with refereeing and everything to do with the kind of talent you have on the ice and the system. You would be right to ask questions about both aspects.
Out of Luck – More often than not one goal games are decided by bounces, good and bad. Saturday, P.K. Subban scored an ‘own goal’ on Carey Price in the 2-1 overtime loss to Tampa. With the game scoreless in the second period, Brandon Prust hit the post. Still in the second, with it now 1-0 Winnipeg, Brian Gionta hit the post on a breakaway. Early in the third period after Gionta had tied the game, Carey Price mishandled the puck while being forechecked by Andrew Ladd. Ladd fed Frolike for what turned out to be the winning goal.
What You See..…Is What You Get – Barring a first period struggle Saturday against Tampa, the Canadiens played pretty well all weekend. The fact that they produced only two goals at home in 125 minutes of hockey tells all of us just how far this team has to go before they can be a legitimate contender. The available talent dictates the Canadiens play a ‘prevent’ style of hockey and hope for the best.
No Follow Up – Since the Canadiens won that ‘statement game’ in Boston Thursday and they have managed one point and two goals in two home games. Since the December 10th 6-0 Los Angeles blowout loss they are 10-12-3.
Risk/Reward – Who P.K. Subban loose? After month of, by his standards, conservative play suddenly Subban is letting it all hang out. Nobody gives us puck possession numbers outside of the team Corsi figures but Subban, over the last two days, seemed to have the puck all the time. He logged 26:32 in this game but 10:26 of that came in the third period as Therrien desperately tried to get some offense going. For those who like the Corsi advanced stats Subban was plus 7 while the Canadiens as a team were minus-11.
Also Worth Noting – …….Brendan Gallagher took three penalties in the game, all of which he earned. But he also took an awful beating out there without drawing any kind of attention from either referee, something that makes one wonder.……This was a pretty good day for Alexei Emelin who appears to be coming out of whatever was bothering. He recorded seven hits, blocked fived shots took five shots, three of them on goal and never seemed to be in troubled. ……Once again Daniel Briere disappeared from sight. While linemates Brian Gionta and Tomas Plekanec managed to generate 10 shots, six on goal, there were zero attempts from Briere. …..Gionta was in on both goals for the Canadiens this weekend and also hit a goalpost. …..One for the hunch players. The last time the Canadiens lost both Super Bowl weekend games was 15 years ago, January 30-31, 1999 to Carolina and Pittsburgh. The Denver Broncs won the Super Bowl,. ….From the Stats sheet – Ice Time Subban 26:38 (four minutes more than Markov who was second); Shots Taken-Subban with 8. Shots on goal – Subban, Plekanec, Gionta, Desharnais, Emelin with 3 each. Blocked shots Emelin-5; Hits – Prust and Emelin – 7. Faceoffs won – Plkeanec 11 of 18 61%.
Moving On – Two more games in the four game home stand, Calgary Tuesday and Vancouver Thursday then they’re off to Carolina for next Saturday night to finish their pre-Olympic schedule. If you’re wondering, the Olympic trade deadline is 3.00pm EST next Friday, February 7th.