Over the last two and a half weeks the Canadiens have been operating in a fantasy world in which their pretty good hockey was being aborted by the hockey gods. Saturday night’s 6-2 fiasco in Dallas showed everyone that the hockey gods had nothing to with it. There are no available excuses for this one. A true wake-up call. At least we can hope it is. Nothing is guaranteed. at this point.
The Canadiens left their game face back in their Dallas hotel rooms. The no-show was evident in the game’s first 90 seconds. First Emelin put himself out of positionto make a hit, creating a 3-on-1 with Condon making a strong save on Patrick Sharp. A minute later Tom Gilbert pinched with no backup at the blueline. Jason Spezza scored on that odd-man rush and the Stars were off an rolling before the game was two minutes old.
Lazy penalties are the end result of a team that isn’t skating. The Canadiens were a half step behind Dallas the entire night and they handed them a momentum-sapping eight power play opportunites and ultimately two power play goals; one of them with two Canadiens in the penalty box.
Mike Condon was pulled after the Stars scored their sixth goal on their 23rd shot. Like most of his teammates, he wasn’t very good, but he wasn’t as bad as many of those who played in front of him, especially on defense.
Once again the so-called core players were non-existent. It is really hard imagine a line that was made up of Max Pacioretty, Alex Galchenyuk and Tomas Plekanec mustering only four shots on goal. Not only that, they attempted only ten (four were blocked and two missed).
So now it’s 18 games without a goal for Plekanec. In this unending 1-7-0 slump, Pacioretty has one goal and Galchenyuk has none. Over the last eight games Desharnais has one assist; Eller and Fleischmann have a goal each. That my friends, is your good players not playing very well.
And as it has for the last eight games, with the good players out to lunch, the so-called fourth-liners and rookies have been shouldering the offensive load. Paul Byron scored his third shorthanded goal of the season. And it was rookie Daniel Carr who finally broke that 0-for-23 Canadiens power play goose egg which, at 3-1, gave Canadiens fans a short glimmer of hope that was quickly dashed two minutes later by Tyler Seguin.
And where would the Canadiens be without the role players? Byron now leads the Canadiens over the last eight games with three goals. Daniel Carr, Brian Flynn and Sven Andrighetto have two each.
Carr looks NHL-ready to me, but I said that about Andrighetto two weeks ago and his game has tailed off to the point where’s now a healthy scratch and may be headed back to St. John’s after the Christmas roster freeze.
One could question the wisdom of putting Michael McCarron in the lineup without a full practice with the team after his Friday callup from St. John’s. . There were times when he looked lost and unsure of his assignments. At one point assistant coach Dan Lacroix was seen giving him a quick chalkboard lesson at the bench. But he played it tough and he was one of the few in the game prepared to go to war in front of the Dallas net. Good experience for him, but he’s not ready for The Show yet.
The worst news of the night my be yet-to-come. In the sequence leading up to the Seguin goal, Jamie Benn slammed Jeff Petry heavily into the boards on what appeared to be clean check. The referees certainly thought so. Petry wasn’t on the bench for the final 26 minutes of the game.
The Canadiens started the season 9-0-0. Since then they are 11-11-3. And now it’s on to Nashville for Monday night and then Minnesota Tuesday. Can the Canadiens be as bad or worse than they were in Dallas? We’ll see.