Coaches spend hours drilling systems, puck management and discipline into their teams and then stand back and watch everything they’ve been preaching come off the rails.
This was one of those nights. Alfonse and Gaston could have been playing this game. Or Abbott and Costello. Maybe Fric and Frac.
The Canadiens were awful in the first period and the 2-0 deficit ultimately cost them the game. The Canadiens came back to tie the game three times but never had the lead.
Seemed like for every good thing that Jonathan Drouin and Alex Galchenyuk did offensively it was matched by a sloppy defensive play. Not even the hard-working Nicolas Deslauriers on their right wing could save them from themselves. The most glaring example was the way both of them quit on their backcheck on the Carolina Noah Hanifin breakout with five seconds left in the second period just over a minute after the Canadiens had tied the score. Both Galchenyuk and Drouin quit on the backcheck allowing Hanifin to find Derek Ryan, the trailer for the Hurricane’s 5th goal. Drouin and Galchenyuk were each minus-3 in the game and they dragged Deslauriers into a minus-3 as well.At the other end of the ice Drouin had five shots, Deslauriers-4 and Galchenyuk 1.
The Canadiens came back to tie the game three times. They trailed 2-0 and scored twice in 39 seconds to tie the game. But Carolina got the lead back 19 seconds later and added another 29 seconds after that to re-establish their two goal lead. Canadiens scored at 18.42 of the second to tie the game again. 1:12 later Ryan scored and the Hurricanes entered the third period with the lead. Pacioretty tied it midway through the third. It took the Hurricanes 10 seconds to score what turned out to be the winner.
Charles Hudon came into the game with only 4 assists his last 18 games. He had one of those games a slumping player can build upon. He scored two goals, added an assist and posted six shots on goal. We’ve been waiting for him to break out. A little late, but this maybe the time to establish himself as a consistant offensive threat.
Hudon is playing on a line centered by Paul Byron. Byron/Hudon/Pacioretty accounted for three of the Canadiens five goals. Not only that, Byron hit two goalposts along the way and the trio has a load of chemistry. Eventually both Danault and Shaw are going to come back and then there’ll be a tough decision to make. Byron may be the answer to at least one of the centre ice decisions the Canadiens are going to have to make moving toward the off-season.
Jeff Petry has taken ownership of the Canadiens blueline. He rushed the puck with the calmness and skill that would done Larry Robinson proud. His outlet passing was impeccable. He scored once and assisted on two others including the Hudon tap-in after Petry hit both posts. He had four shots on goal and blocked six. We’ve seen a lot of this since he climbed out from the shadow of Shea Weber.
A BAD LOT
When a team gives up six goals there’s plenty of blame to spread around. With the exception of Petry, the defense was horrible. Schlemko and Benn had really difficult nights. Mete had a bad first period but seemed to come back a bit in the second and third. Alzner at least had the benefit of playing with Petry who was arguably the best Canadien on the ice.
…..I thought Carey Price would be pulled after the Carolina scored those goals 29 seconds apart to take a 4-2 lead in the second period. Julien stuck with him. Price didn’t get any better.
….The five goals in the span of 1:27 in the second period were the fastest five in the league in three years, dating back to March 3, 2015.
….Max Pacioretty continued his re-birth with a goal and assist. In the six games since Byron became his centre Pacioretty has 5 goals, 2 assists.
….Give Jacob de la Rose some credit for going after the Phillip di Giuseppe after an awkward check on Byron Froese. Wasn’t much of a fight. Still…….
All-Star break time. Forget this one and move on. Except we’re got a lot of forgetting to do through the season’s first 49 games. Carey Price will be in Tampa for the All-Star festivities. Next week the Canadiens resume things with games in St Louis and Carolina on Tuesday and Thursday before they play those two afternoon Super Bowl weekend games between Anaheim and Ottawa.