One of the first signs that a team is losing it’s structure is their performance on the road. At home, most teams feel a responsibility to perform in front of fans and family. On the road that obligation isn’t the same. That’s where the Canadiens are at this point in time.
After the 5-3 loss in Philadelphia Thursday night, the Canadiens have now dropped eight of their last nine on the road. The only win in that stretch went to Antti Niemi in Washington January 19th. Carey Price has lost his seven starts on the road.
At least the Canadiens scored three goals for him this time. They had totaled four in his previous six appearances.
February 26th is the trade deadline. The Canadiens are expected to be sellers. Can anyone guess what the Canadiens will look like on February 27th?
I don’t think that the Canadiens are going to unload a 22 year old Alex Galchenyuk but I’m sure it’s crossed more than a few front office minds.
In this game, Galchenyuk again seemed distracted. Then again, so did his linemates Jonathan Drouin and Nikita Scherbak. Galchenyuk was minus-3 in the game which puts him at minus-28 for the season, second worst defensive rating in the league. If you’re going to be that kind of defensive liability, you had better be producing points on a much more regular basis than Galchenyuk has been.
I made a note in the first period that Tomas Plekanec and his line were having a very good night. He was creative. He had a couple of scoring chances and his line stood out as the Canadiens best. Something happened during the first intermission because all of his good work was nullified by an uncharacteristic lack of discipline in the second and third periods during which he took his second and third penalties of the game. All three of the penalties were caused because he was behind the play – two hooking and one tripping. He was in the box when the Flyers scored the winning goal. Plekanec is going to be traded by February 26th. Hate to see him leaving on this note.
Seemed to me the only truly cohesive unit on the night was once again the fourth line. When Byron Froese, Logan Shaw and Nicolas Deslauriers were on the ice, thanks to their forechecking, the Canadiens spent a lot of time in the Philadelphia end of the ice. Their hard forecheck produced the Canadiens second goal.
Once again Deslauriers led the Canadiens with six hits. Shaw had three along with four shots on goal.
It’s been part of the Canadiens story line all season. Goals in bunches. The Lehkonen shorthanded goal was followed 28 seconds later by a Flyers power play goal. In the third period Voracek scored a power play goal and 61-seconds later Konecny scored what turned out to be the game winner.
I’ve lost count on how often that’s happened this season. Somewhere around twenty.
ALSO WORTH MENTIONING
….It’s hard to fault Jeff Petry for anything that’s going wrong these days. His ice time was a team-leading 25:03. I’ve never seen him as comfortable in his game as he’s been over the last six weeks.
….Of his ten shooting attempts, Brendan Gallagher led the Canadiens with five shots on goal, almost every one of them from the top of the crease. Four of the five shots were listed as Grade-A chances. Nothing new in that. He was rewarded with his 19th goal.
….And it looks like Artturi Lehkonen has finally found his legs. He sniffed out a Flyers set play and stripped the puck from Jakub Voracek to score a shorthanded goal. As good as the forced turnover was, his shot on Brian Elliott was better.
….Not much seen from Max Pacioretty again despite his four shots on goal. One really good scoring chance in the third period but Brian Elliott saw it all the way. Is he back in a slump?
….The Canadiens were 35% on faceoffs. In that department they haven’t been very good all season, but recently like so many other things, it’s deteriorated further.
….The Canadien scored another power play goal. That’s 17 in the last seventeen games.
MOVING ON –
The Canadiens are home to P.K.and the Predators on Saturday night. They have their modest two-game Bell Centre winning streak to protect. After that it’s the southwest road trip through Colorado, Arizona and Las Vegas next week.