What we had out on Bell Centre ice Monday night was the NHL’s worst defensive team up against the 29th ranked offense. What could go wrong with that?
The worst defense in the league blew two two-goal leads and wound up in overtime while the NHL’s third worst offense produced 56 shots on goal and still couldn’t produce enough to win the game.
That’s the way it has been and will be with the 2017-2018 edition of the Canadiens.
It was a matter of playing down to your opposition. The Canadiens defense put them in a hole and never let them out. The Canadiens were down 2-0 on the first four Islanders shots on Carey Price. After the Canadiens tied it the Islanders scored two goals on their first three shots of the second period. The defense was clearly responsible for two of the goals. Carey Price could have been better on the other two. Still, it went to overtime.
Max Pacoretty scored a goal in his fourth consecutive game. He played on a makeshift line centred by Paul Byron and they weren’t all that bad. Byron also scored a goal and the line, which included Charles Hudon racked up 11 shots on goal.
Alex Galchenyuk wound up minus-3 in the game but had an electric night playing with Jonathan Drouin although it seemed to me that Islanders goaltender Thomas Greiss was waiting on that one-timer of his from the right faceoff circle. In the third period and trailing a couple of goals Claude Julien took Daniel Carr off the line and replaced him with Nicolas Deslauriers.
If there was an award for the most involved player it would go again to Brendan Gallagher. It was his presence in front of the net that allowed Pacioretty to tie the game and send it into the overtime. Gallagher spent the entire night at the top of the Islanders goalcrease. Gallagher wound up with a team leading seven shots on goal. He seems to be a fixture now with Tomas Plekanec who continues to look like he will never score another goal for the Canadiens.
Is there anyone on the planet that likes the NHL’s offside replay rule. The Canadiens had a David Schlemko power play goal taken from them in the third period because, 53 seconds earlier Paul Byron had lifted his skate while crossing the line. Enough is enough on this stuff. Change the rule so that if one skate is behind the line whether it is on the ice or not, the play is considered on-side.
ALSO WORTH MENTIONING
….Victor Mete played in his second game since returning from the World Juniors and was just as good in this one as he was Saturday vs. Boston. He has those kind of offensive instincts that we used to see on a regular basis from Andrei Markov and his speed allows him to recover from most of his rookie mistakes.
….Paul Byron was the centreman but his right wing Charles Hudon took the lions share of faceoffs winning seven of fourteen. Byron won three of seven before Hudon took over for him.
…..For whatever negative things might be said about the Canadiens in this game, it should be mentioned that they did come back from two goals down twice in the game. Too many times this season, a two goal deficit was more than their team psyche could handle.
Lost in all this, the fact remains that the Canadiens have picked up six of a possible eight points over their last four games (2-0-2) and have gained no ground in the Eastern Conference. They are still eight points behind the final wild card berth and would have to vault over six teams to get there. Ahead they face Boston Wednesday and in Washington Friday followed by the Bruins at the Bell Centre on Saturday.