SELF-DESTRUCTION – Vegas-6 Canadiens-3 (Feb. 17, 2018

Feb 18th, 2018 | By | Category: Canadiens, Canadiens Game Story, Latest News

When whatever is left of the Canadiens brain trust gets together to do the post mortem on this catastrophic season, one topic of conversation will be the Canadiens lack of mental toughness.

They demonstrate it in so many areas starting with their record on the road this season.  They will talk about the fact that, outside of a few individuals they have little desire to go into the dirty areas for the puck.  And at Las Vegas Saturday another one of those nagging issues resurfaced.

For the second time in two games  the Canadiens allowed a close game get out of hand by giving up two goals in less than a minute.

Thursday night in Arizona the Canadiens the Coyotes stretched the score from 1-0 to 3-0 in the span of 19 seconds.

In Vegas, the score was 3-2 early in the second period when they self destructed. With the the defense running willy-nilly in front of Carey Price Ryan Carpenter scored. Thirty nine seconds after losing a faceoff in their own end,  Reilly Smith scored to make it 5-2. Game over with still 35 minutes left to play.

It’s the fourteenth time this season opponents have struck twice in a minute or less and the Canadiens are 0-13-0 in those games.

How do you deal with a team that quits on itself on that level?  Good question.

DISAPPEARANCE

For the third consecutive game Max Pacioretty was all but invisible. He took only three shots, two on goal, only one of them that caused FMarc-Andre Fleury any level of discomfort. Three games into the road trip, Pacioretty’s contribution is five shot attempts – 2 on-goal; one blocked and two misses – in just over 50 minutes of ice time.

Is Pacioretty part of mental toughness problem with this team?   Based on what we’ve seen on this road trip one can only believe that he is.

THE KID

Nikita Scherbak scored the goal of the game, reaching back to tuck the puck past Fleury on a breakaway. His goal made the score 3-2 in the first period.

Scherbak is still pretty raw. He  took a bad offensive zone penalty in the second period and there was a bad giveaway that led to a Vegas scoring chance as well. But in the third period he anchored a terrific shift that led to Scherbak hitting the post with a backhand. I can see absolutely no reason to send him back to Laval.

NO QUIT

Moving Charles Hudon to centre seemed like another one of Claude Julien’s desperation moves to fill a gaping hole in the middle left him by the missteps of his general manager. So far Hudon has worked out better than expected.  . He used his speed to sweep around the defense for the Canadiens first goal and seemed to be an offensive threat while his linemates were doing nothing.

ALSO WORTH NOTING

….Nicolas Deslauriers wasn’t dressed for the second straight game. They could have used him in a game like this.

….That said, I like the game that Logan Shaw played although it’s another example of members of the fourth line with their ten or eleven minutes of ice time standing out ahead of the top six forwards on most nights.

….Three of the six Vegas goals came directly off lost defensive zone faceoffs. It’s not the fact that the faceoff was lost, it’s what the Canadiens did or didn’t do to defend after losing the faceoff. In that area the team continues to need a lot of work.

….The Canadiens held their rookie dinner Friday night in Las Vegas and then the Claude Julien threw Antti Niemi into the fire to start the game. He gave up three goals on six shots and was gone. If they were showcasing him for a deadline trade, his value went down considerably.

…..Doesn’t seem fair that Paul Byron should be minus-4 in this game, or Brendan Gallagher and Tomas Plekanec should be minus-3. Sometimes it just works out that way. Plekanec won 12 of 16 faceoffs, Byron led the Canadiens with four shots and Gallagher had three.

MOVING ON

The Canadiens have now lost 11 of their last 12 road games. Ottawa is now ahead of them in the standings. So is Vancouver . And that leaves the Canadiens  28th in the league and fourth in the draft lottery. Edmonton is just one point behind them.  Next stop Philadelphia on Tuesday. Any bets?

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