The Canadiens are getting minor league level goaltending from Carey Price this season and everything is coming apart in front of him.
The Canadiens were buried by Price before the game at Minnesota was five minutes old. The goals that the Wild scored ten seconds apart weren’t just bad; they were awful. It’s also the fifth time this season Price has given up a pair of first period goals within a minute of each other.
Bad goaltending changes everything. Price’s teammates, knowing Price was having another one of his bad nights, were forced to alter the way they wanted to play the game.
It was 3-0 at the end of the first period; 4-0 before the Canadiens got one back 13 minutes in the second period and 5-1 before the Canadiens got a couple of meaningless late ones. At the end, lfive more goals charged to the “best goaltender in the world”.
Price has always been known as the most athletic of all NHL goaltenders. The best word to describe his play through his eleven appearances this season is “clumsy”. His sluggish movement in the crease led to each of the first three Minnesota goals. Once his strength, the low shot has become a glaring and exploitable weakness. It’s one of a myriad of issues that might start with his level of confidence. It leaves the Canadiens front office and coaching staff in a horrible position because without Price, their team is a non-contender.
UP FRONT –
Brendan Gallagher has had some tough times the last two seasons but he’s healthy now and playing the way he did before he suffered those two hand injuries. A few of his teammates lost their psychological edge in the first period. Not so with Gallagher. Number 11 was in this game from beginning to end. He scored two more goals which gives him four goals and 7 points his last five games.
In a game in which the Canadiens gave up six goals, Gallagher was plus-one and his centre Tomas Plekanec was plus-2. The only members of the Canadiens on the plus side of the ledger. Plekanec also won 11 of 14 faceoffs.
Andrew Shaw was the best part of the top line with Drouin and Pacioretty. Pacioretty’s forecheck led to Shaw’s goal. The line produced 9 shots.
SHORTENED BENCH –
Desperate for any form of offense, Claude Julien moved Alex Galchenyuk up to replace the nearly invisible Paul Byron on the line with Jonathan Drouin and Artturi Lehkonen. It’s a move that might hold when the Canadiens play the Jets Saturday night.
Byron was dropped to the Plekanec line. Hudon to the fourth line where he got only three shifts in the third.
Despite playing from behind the entire night, Julien kept Shea Weber and Victor Mete together the entire night five-on-five. Weber again logged over 25 tough minutes, almost six of those on special teams. He also recorded six of the Canadiens 12 blocked shots.
Playing from behind the Canadiens picked up the lion’s share of the penalties. On the one power play they had Claude Julien stubbornly had Max Pacioretty on the ice for 1:29 of the two minutes despite the fact that Pacioretty has gone 38 games without a power play goal. Through the same stretch Alex Galchenyuk has five goals and two assists. Galchenyuk was on the ice for the final 30 seconds of this power play.
Back to Canada to play the third game of the four game road trip and the first of back to back weekend games. Saturday in Winnipeg, then Sunday in Chicago. The Chicago game will be their third in four nights. Things are not shaping up in a promising way.