First the first time in the ninety-nine year history of the hockey team the Canadiens suffered the humiliation of giving up three shorthanded goals in a single game.
Worse, they gave them up against the second worst penalty killing team in the league.
This game was a microcosm of the horrible state of the Canadiens power play. During their first three advantages in the game they could muster a total of one shot on goal while giving up the three shorthanded goals over a total of 4:49 of power play time.
Can it get any worse than this? We still have eleven games to play so there’s still lots of time to find a greater depth.
With the possible exception of Andrei Markov, the so-called veteran Canadiens leadership failed to show up against Ottawa. The rookie Sven Andrighetto was the only member of the Galchenyuk line that put in any kind of effort. Both the team captain and Galchenyuk were a well-earned minus-4 in the game. Pacioretty spent the night talking trash at the Ottawa bench while producing little of substance when it counted. Tomas Plekanec disappeared from the radar last month and now his goal scoring drought is at 17 games. Eller and Emelin might as well have stayed home as well. All of them have clearly lost interest doing anything but avoid injuries between now and April 9th.
So it’s up to a bunch of American Hockey Leaguers to carry the load. Some are doing well. I mentioned the contribution Andrighetto made in this game.
The Canadiens best line was Mike McCarron, Lucas Lessio and Torrey Mitchell. McCarron again made himself a presence and led the Canadiens with team-leading five shots on goal and three scoring chances. With his speed and grit, Lessio is doing a great job of attracting the attention of his coaches.. Mitchell was one of the few veteran players who actually made an effort to win this game. Put Mike Brown in the same category with his six hits and his inevitable first period fight with Chris Neil. But Brown knows no other way to play, which can only be a good thing.
On defense Darren Dietz made a mistake that led to the third shorthanded goal but the rest of his game was better than just OK. And interesting to note that at 21:59 Greg Pateryn got more ice time than Emelin and just a 44-seconds fewer than Markov.
I’m not seeing anything I’ve really liked so far from Stefan Matteau. And anything beyond fourth line centre seems about as far as Phillip Danault’s talent is going to carry him . With more time and experience these judgments of course are always subject to change.
The final very faint hope for a playoff berth ended with this loss. The best the Canadiens can do if they win every game the rest of the way is 92 points. That won’t cut it. (After the game sportsclubstats.com for the first time listed the Canadiens with a 0.0% chance of making the playoffs).
The Canadiens will now play the second half of their final back-to-back series of the season Sunday night against the Flames who are as big a disappointment to their fans as the Canadiens are in Montreal. And think about this over morning coffee. The Flames have scored five goals shorthanded over their last four games.
After that there are 9 games left. Lots of time for the kids to show what they can do. And an equal amount of time for the veterans to embarrass themselves the way they did in Ottawa Saturday night.