It is probably a good thing that the Canadiens are on the road for a good portion of one of the worst months in the 98 year history of the franchise. Losing the way they are in front of a Bell Centre crowd would not be a pleasant thing.
Tuesday at Minnesota, the Canadiens were better than they were in Dallas and Nashville but in the end their 2-1 loss to the Wild was just another chapter in a continuing Neverending Story. Their key players couldn’t score. Their power play came up empty again and, while did have his moments especially in the second period, their rookie goaltender could have been better on the two goals he gave up including the game winner where he left the whole top of the net open for Charlie Coyle. Still, both plays were started by giveaways from, first Alexei Emelin and second by Lars Eller.
And now the Canadiens will have to spend the Christmas holidays thinking about their one lonely victory in the last ten games. Their only solace may come from the fact that, thanks to St. Louis beating Boston Tuesday night, they will hold down first place in the Atlantic Division at least until Boxing Day. A small mercy, but when things are going as badly as they are, it’s a straw to grasp.
The near-total disappearance of the Canadiens key players is beyond comprehension. Max Pacioretty had another one of his uneven nights. He was a no-show in the first period, had five shots in the second period and then didn’t get a shot again in the third. He has one goal, one assist and is minus-10 during the ten game collapse.
Tomas Plekanec didn’t seem to be in this one at all. His game seems to be sinking under the weight of a 20 game goalscoring drought.
If one were to pick a Canadiens pre-Christmas December Star-of-the-Month you wouldn’t be too far wrong in choosing Daniel Carr. He leads all Canadiens with three goals and an assist during December while playing on every line imaginable in his nine games since he was called up from St. John’s. He also had a fourth goal called back in Nashville on Monday or he would have had three goals in his last three games. The other “Stars” of the month would be Paul Byron, also with three goals and Brian Flynn and Sven Andrighetto with two each. As for the high priced talent? Hardly worth a mention since late November.
P.K. Subban should be singled out however. Tom Gilbert suffered an injury blocking a Zach Parise shot or pass during his fifth shift of the game and didn’t return. Already without Jeff Petry and now left with five defensemen in their second game in 24 hours, it was left it to Subban to carry the load. He logged an exhausting 29:02. Along the way he played 13:56 with Beaulieu; 6:31 with Tinordi; 5:42 with Markov and 1:57 with Emelin. Through all of it he was a factor right now to the final whistle.
Outside of Subban, the rest of the defense had it’s ups and downs. Markov was good. Emelin made an awful giveaway on the Wild’s first goal. Beaulieu did some good things, especially rushing the puck but was lackadaisical on Minnesota’s game winner. Jarred Tinordi was pretty good I thought, if only because he didn’t try to do stuff of which he wasn’t capable. And he wound up with a career high 17:28.
And now the Christmas break. Used productively, it would be a good time for the Canadiens to collectively clear their heads of all the negative stuff of the last three weeks. There are still three games left in the the month and if they can’t figure things out, this could still wind up being the worst month in team history.