HOLLOW VICTORY – Canadiens-5 Vancouver-2 (Jan. 7, 2018)

Jan 7th, 2018 | By | Category: Canadiens, Canadiens Game Story, Latest News

Canadiens general manager Marc Bergevin left a few of the more cynical laughing after his mid-season news conference two hours before the Bell Centre game against the Vancouver Canucks. The team that Bergevin put together then scored three goals in the game’s final twelve minutes to record an historically meaningless 5-2 win.

It was the news conference that was the news of the day but only fronma negative standpoint. Bergevin failed to have any explanation for the way his team had 18 fewer points in the standings than it had at after 41 games last season. He says he will never give up on the season, but the words were empty in the face of reality

The problems are many but most of them stem from a totally ineffective offense keyed to the centre ice position.

Going into the Vancouver game, Jonathan Drouin had one assist his last eleven games, Tomas plekaned had one goal in his last 27 games and Phillip Danault zero points in his last seven. Bergevin, who has had six years on the job,  knew how thin the team was at centre and has done nothing to solve the problem except trade for a winger and hope he could be converted to centre.

And so the Canadiens are where they are, which is 14th in the Eastern Conference with little chance of improvement.

TWO IN A ROW

The Canadiens made it two wins in a row for the first time since before Christmas which is a good thing. They did a lot of things right to get their 2-0 lead except they worked hard enough to make it 4-0 and couldn’t. Anders Nilsson was yet another goaltender who was made to look like the second coming of Georges Vezina. Their failure to pile it on allowed the Canucks, who were playing their second game in twenty-four hours to come back to tie the game.

PACIORETTY

Max Pacioretty recorded six shots on goal in the game. He’s done that more than a few times this year and only been criticized for failing to have an impact. The last four or five games Pacioretty has been an important player. He finally scored into the empty net but he was a major factor in the game and his presence seemed to drag his linemates along, especially Charles Hudon who had six great scoring chances only to come away empty. Give credit to Danault was well.

PLEKANEC

There are nights when I swear I have seen Tomas Plekanec score his last NHL goal. If the Danault line was good, Plekanec/Gallagher/Byron was better. They came off a brilliant effort against Tampa Bay’s best line to take care of the Canucks’ top scoring line including Brock Boeser and Thomas Vanek.

Brendan Gallagher scored the game winning goal, assisted on the clincher from Paul Byron. While doing their checking job, they also piled up 13 shots on goal including five from Gallagher and Plekanec.

TOUGH GUY

Karl Alzner was playing in his 582nd consecutive regular season game. He’s had his ups-and-downs this season. This was one of his good nights. His goal came on a deflection, his first in 95 games opened the game’s scoring. Then in the third period his shot created a rebound that Gallagher gobbled up for the game winner. It doesn’t hurt that he’s playing with Jeff Petry who continues to play his best hockey as a Canadien but, with Alzner backing him up, Petry has the confidence to really involve himself in the offense.

ALSO WORTH MENTIONING.

….I have long felt that Alex Galchenyuk was not suited to be a centre because of his inability to distribute the puck the way you would hope a centreman would do. Watching him over the last month, I’m beginning to change my mind. He has made some very strong offensive plays. Can he be any less effective than Drouin?

MOVING ON

The Canadiens now take their five day break. Their next game will be Saturday night against Boston, the first of three games in a week against the Bruins. In the middle of that they will host the Islanders and play the Capitals in Washington. The way things are, not a pleasant prospect.

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