Coaches spend practice hours working on what it takes to shut down an opponent in their own building.
In his pre-game instructions, after looking at tapes of the Friday night fiasco against San Jose Michel Therrien would have reminded his team of the basic rules of winning in the NHL on the road, especially against a potent team like the Washington Capitals who came into the game on a six game win streak. . On a point-by-point post game report card this is what Therieen might have written…..
FIRST ON THE THERRIEN LIST
- Establish the defensive game from the opening whistle.
- Pass. The Canadiens took only one shot of their own through the first 14-minutes but allowed only 5 by Washington who seemed to be buzzing in the Canadiens end but were largely kept to the outside by the defense. .
- Score the opening goal.
- Check. On the Canadiens third shot Artturi Lehkonen stole the puck in the corner and scampered behind the net catching Braden Holtby off balance and scored on the wrap around.
- Stay out of the penalty box.
- Fail. Bad penalties have become a Canadiens trademark this season. The Canadiens killed off the first two but Nathan Beaulieu was caught for hooking which was bad enough but then Alexei Emelin took a needless interference penalty along the boards 32 seconds later. Washington wasn’t going to pass up that opportunity and it took them only nine seconds to tie the game up. And that ten minute abuse-of-officials penalty that Nathan Beaulieu took after the tieing goal was scored wasn’t helpful either.
- Stick with the game plan.
- Pass. The tieing goal came at 14.19 of the second period. For the next 20 minutes the Canadiens did as good a job of shutting down one of the league’s highest scoring teams as you will see. Ovechkin, Backstrom and company had one shot on Carey Price up to the 14th minute of the second period.
- Close the deal.
- Pass. Through the final 3 ½ minutes, two of them with their goaltender out for the 6th attacker, the Capitals managed one shot. Game over.
THERRIEN’S POST GAME REPORT CARD –
A-minus. Perfect road game on all counts except the penalties.
WORTH MENTIONING –
…..On most nights Jeff Petry goes about his job with a high level of competence. We’ve found since he joined the team that once in a while he will go on an offensive tear. He’s in the middle of one of those right now. His game winner pinching in to take a great pass from Pacioretty was his third in four games.
….I didn’t see anything wrong with most of Mike McCarron’s game again. When he throws his weight aaround he’s effective. Therrien rolled his four lines protecting the one goal lead in the third period and McCarron plus linemates Chris Terry and Daniel Carr took a regular turn.
….The Canadiens entered the game with five players on their injury list. They finished the game without Andrei Markov who suffered some kind of lower body injury around the sixth minute of the third period. We’ll know more about that on Monday.
….The Canadiens defense had a great night. They blocked 21 of Washington’s shots. The Capitals got in front of only four by the Canadiens. Hit totals were 43-18 for Washington but only indicates that the Canadiens had the puck a lot more than Washington even if they weren’t pushing their offense a lot.
….Alexander Radulov led the forwards with five shots.
….The four centres in this game in terms of ice time were – Phillip Danault (with Pacioretty & Radulov); Torrey Mitchell (with Byron and Gallagher); Tomas Plekanec (with Lehkonen and Flynn) and the fourth line was McCarron (centering Carr and Chris Terry). Not a lot of offense there but give them credit.
….Oh….and Carey Price won his 250th career game. Thanks to the team in front of him who were clearly embarrassed about Friday night, made his milestone an easy one to achieve. Only Hall of Famers Jacques Plante, Patrick Roy and Ken Dryden have won more games in a Canadiens uniform.
The Canadiens have the day off Sunday. Monday they practice. Tuesday it’s Anaheim and then those back to back games against Minnesota Thursday and at Columbus on Friday to close out the pre-Christmas schedule.