For a few decades I’ve tried unsuccessfully to figure out why teams behave the way they do.
And not even Michel Therrien, his coaches and the front office combined would be able to explain a Canadiens team failing to show up Friday night before 21 thousand of their own fans against a team that has been making a career of creating only embarrassment for the them over the last five years.
DIGGING THEIR OWN GRAVE
To compound their lack of mental preparation, or perhaps because of it, the Canadiens took the game’s first four penalties, the first three in the offensive zone. That is about the last thing you want to do considering the struggles the Canadiens penalty killers have had early in the season.
Three power play opportunities in the first 7 ½ minutes and down 2-0 half way through the first period. In this league, against even a team with a moderately good defense, there is maybe a 10 percent chance of coming back from 2-0 no matter how much time is left. So the funeral the early burial came quickly right on their home ice. They should be embarrassed by this one. at least we can hope so.
Therrien invoked the mercy rule and pulled Carey Price midway through the second period when it became clear that leaving him in there was useless, that Price’s teammates had taken the night off and were leaving all up to him. There was nothing wrong with the way Carey played, and as competitive as he is, he wanted to finish what he started, hence the look he threw at Therrien as he left the ice. Given his early departure you can bet that Therrien was saving Price for an unscheduled start in Washington Saturday night. First time Price had been yanked from a game since October 2014 when he let in four early ones against Tampa.
We found out at game time that Andrew Shaw, who had been playing as well or better than most of his teammates in the month of December, was out of the lineup as a result of the concussion aftermath from that borderline dirty hit from Boston’s Tory Krug on Monday. That brought Sven Andrighetto back into the lineup but he was injured in the second period and didn’t return. With Galchencyk,Desharnais and Pateryn already on injury reserve, the list is beginning to look like the one that buried the Canadiens last December. Only difference of course, they still have their number one goaltender.
It could be that he looked good only because his teammates were playing so badly, but in his season debut Mike McCarron had a really good night. He was everything you could want in the Canadiens second goal and I can’t remember a bad shift either on right wing, the occasions he was used at centre and on the power play. Watching him in the American Hockey League with St. John’s I often thought he should be making better use of his size. He was doing that in this game, one of the few that was physically and mentally involved. Considering the injury list, he’ll be around for a while.
After two periods of disfunctional hockey, It was Brian Flynn who scored early the third and it lit a fire under the Canadiens. But down 4-0 or even 4-1 is a little too much to ask and the Canadiens had nobody to blame but themselves for their lack of competitiveness through the game’s first 30 minutes. This embarrassment still ended at 4-2.
WORTH MENTIONING –
….What more could Mike McCarron do. He register 2 shots on goal, two more were blocked, five hits, 1 takeaway, was 2 for 2 on faceoffs and was the entire reason Jeff Petry scored the Canadiens second goal. .
….The Canadiens are now a dismal 1-7-1 in their last nine games against the Sharks. They’re a very good team, but the Canadiens have to take some of the blame for that.
….It might have been embarrassment by the rest of team watching Price in that chair at the end of their bench, but the Canadiens did tighten their game up after he left. Al Montoya faced only five shots in the final 30 minutes.
One could only hope that the Canadiens will carry their effort in the third period into their Saturday night game in Washington. Expect Price to be back in the nets instead of the originally scheduled Al Montoya.
It’s not getting easier. Anaheim at the Bell Centre Tuesday and then Minnesota Thursday to start another back-to-back that wraps up Friday at Columbus. And we all know what happened the last time we saw the Blue Jackets at home.