There are two kinds of “statement games”. One of them involves a couple of credible teams trying to prove who is king-of-the-hill, at least in the moment. The other is to avoid being dubbed the worst of the worst. The game at Glendale Arizona Thursday night was the latter and the Canadiens didn’t come out of it looking very good.
The Canadiens went into Arizona with one win in their last ten road games and ranking 26th in the league. to the Coyotes 31st.
Up against the team with the league’s worst record but a team holding a win over the Canadiens at the Bell Centre back in November, would it be too much to expect the Canadiens could somehow build up some emotion, even if it was for one night in a lost season, to even the season series.?
One might shrug off the loss Wednesday night to a Colorado team that still thinks it has a chance at a playoff berth but there is no way of ignoring the dismal effort put up by the Canadiens Thursday at the Gila River Arena.
OUT TO DRY
In the first seven minutes of this game Carey Price stopped five odd-man rushes. That’s how disinterested the team defense was in playing against an Arizona team who’s offense is worse than the Canadiens. Price gave up a power play goal and that’s all in the first period, so the Canadiens with the intermission had a chance to get their legs going.
The Avalanche wasted no time in the second. With the Canadiens defense behind the net, a pass out to Brendan Perlini alone in the slot made it 2-0. And then nineteen seconds later with Jeff Petry and Karl Alzner failing to protect the middle of the ice, a quick pass up to Perlini and the breakaway made it 3-0. Failure to push back after being scored upon has been a storyline all season. The number of times teams have scored two in less than a minute against the Canadiens is somewhere around twenty.
What an awful start to a road trip for Max Pacioretty. He’s always been known for his scoring slumps but he’s avoided having a load of criticism heaped upon him because of the 200-foot nature of his game.
I can’t remember two worse games for the captain. that he’s put in the last 24-hours. He took a terrible boarding penalty that led to the Coyotes first goal. In the third period with the Canadiens taking advantage of the fact the Coyotes had stopped skating to narrow the score to 3-2, Pacioretty was hit with an offensive zone “holding the stick” penalty. He sat in the box as Arizona scored their fourth goal. Worse, at a time when the team needs some leadership Pacioretty has been invisible. Over the last two games he has managed only three shooting attempts, one was blocked and in this game two missed the net. The indefinite nature of his future with the Canadiens as we approach the trade deadline may be an excuse. But that’s all it is…..an excuse.
It didn’t take long for Claude Julien to start moving around his forwards. Charles Hudon centered Pacioretty for much of the game. He was a centre in junior. Nikita Scherbak, who was robbed of a goal in the first period and hit a cross bar in the third still was bounced off the Drouin line to the fourth line early in the second period. Logan Shaw, who I thought had a good first period on the fourth line, replaced Scherbak with Drouin and disappeared for the rest of the game.
….The Canadiens are the only team Arizona has managed to beat twice this season.
….The Canadiens have produced 81 shots on goal over the last 24 hours and have two goals to show, one of them on the power play.
….Daniel Carr led the Canadiens with five shots. All of them in the third period. Hudon, playing centre all night, had four shots and held his own in the faceoff circle winning 10 of 20.
….Brendan Gallagher had another energetic night which was capped by his team-leading 21st goal.
….Otherwise an embarrassing night for everyone. The Canadiens are now 1-10-0 their last 11 games on the road. In the 11 games they’ve scored 13 goals. In the ten losses they have averaged one goal per game. Can the General Manager survive this will be the on-going question.
This is shaping up to be a disaster of a road trip. The Canadiens now head for Las Vegas for Saturday night and then on to Philadelpia next Tuesday before facing the Rangers and Tampa Bay next Thursday and Saturday.