The only words I have to describe the Canadiens in their 3-1 loss to the Capitals Saturday night were at worst ‘timid’ and at best ‘tentative’. Not pleasant words to use around a hockey team. I would prefer to think their reluctance to get into the trenches with their opposition over the last three weeks has been a collapse of team confidence but there seems to be a much bigger problem that nobody seems to be able to put their finger on. Coaches and players all talk a good game in the post mortems but talk is cheap and on the ice there seems to be a general reluctance to get their hands dirty.
Galchenyuk, Carr and Eller made up the only Canadiens effective line in Washington. It’s been like that for three or four games now. in relation to most of the rest of his team, Daniel Carr has become a scoring machine with a team leading four goals this month. He’s scored three of the last five and had one taken away from him in Nashville last week. There’s no secret to his success. He’s constantly around the blue paint. It’s a part of the game almost totally missing from most of the high-priced talent this month.
Here is the ugly truth. The Canadiens gave up the game’s first goal for the eighth time in the last ten games and then were down 2-0 in the second period. They have lost 6 in a row while being outscored 22-6. If anything their offense is getting worse with just a goal in each of the last three losses. Since December third they are 1-10-0 and that team that played the first month of the season isa faint memory.
Statistics can tell whopping lies. The one about the Canadiens leading the entire league in shot differential in the month of December is one of them. It’s not the shots on goal total that wins hockey games, it’s quality scoring chances; those ones you earn by going into the dirty areas to dig out loose puck. In that department the Canadiens have been woefully lacking. Dale
Of course it wasn’t all bad. it almost never is. There are always contributors. I didn’t think much of what turned out to be the game winning goal, but I thought Mike Condon had his best night in a month especially right after the Canadiens narrowed the score to 2-1 and he was forced to make eight blue-ribbon saves over the next seven minutes before things settled in again.
I guess this is going to be a year when P.K. Subban isn’t going ot pile up goals. Defensively he’s as good as anyone in the league. He played half the game again (29:24).
In hindsight in probably wasn’t a great idea to bring Jeff Petry back as quickly as he was. Whatever was bothering him (knee or ankle?) was still a problem especially when he had to make quick turn to his right. Alexei Emelin was on for all three goals. He was particularly soft on the first and third goals.
I mentioned the Galchenyuk line earlier. Their Corsi numbers for the game were off the chart. Galchenyuk 65.52; Carr 65.38 and Eller 65:22, Dale Weise had six shots on goal which at least tells us he was active around the Washington net. I can’t remember any of them though, and that’s not a good sign.
I know there’s a large segment of the Canadiens fan base that thinks Marc Bergevin should get rid of his head coach. I can’t imagine it happening. However the rumour mill is back in operation. Zack Kassian has been told not to report to the St. John’s IceCaps for the time being which may portend some kind of deal although Kassian is damaged goods right now and anything involving him would have to be part of a bigger package. The trade window reopens at midnight December 27th. Bergevin hates being pushed into making trades but, with no end to the bleeding in sight,the situation has become urgent.