The high point of the Canadiens game in Buffalo Thursday night came in the second minute when Artturi Lehkonen stripping Marco Scandella of the puck and set up Max Domi for the first of his two goals.
The Canadiens survived the first period with their 1-0 lead. After that, although they managed to stay close on the scoreboard, the Sabres owned them by almost every metric.
The hallmark of this version of Claude Julien‘s Canadiens is their up-tempo north-south attack. Many, including myself have questioned whether that kind of pace can be sustained through an 82 game schedule.
It’s only one game but the Canadiens seemed to hit one of those proverbial walls. In the previous eight games the speed of their game broke down whatever defensive system that was thrown at them. On this night, the energy to execute any form of game plan simply wasn’t there.
Even the best teams have nights like this. One only hopes that it doesn’t become habit forming.
For the third time in the last four games Max Domi scored the opening goal. Against Buffalo it came 1:17 into the game. Versus Ottawa – 3:40. He scored at 39 seconds against St. Louis last week.
We were told coming into the season that he wasn’t shooting the puck enough. He’s doing it now. He’s fourth on the team in shots-taken at 20. Domi now leads the Canadiens with 10 points including four goals which is halfway to his season total for each of the last two years.
This was a team thing. In games like this it makes little sense pointing fingers. Domi was good. The rest of his line didn’t accomplish much. The Danault line wasn’t as good as it’s been although Tomas Tatar had four of the Canadiens eight high danger scoring chances.
Claude Julien needs to think about what he’s going to do with his fourth line. They were limited to under eight minutes including only two minutes or so in the third period. Andrew Shaw took a couple of bad penalties. Nicolas Deslauriers offers nothing offensively and I continue to think Matthew Peca is better on the wing than at centre. I don’t know whether Julien is looking for even a semblance of offense out of his fourth line but what value does it have if all you can get out of them is two minutes a period.
….Within the framework of a bad game, I was again surprised at how well defenseman Xavier Ouellet is doing.
….Buffalo had 17 high danger scoring chances among their 42 shots on goal. The Canadiens only eight.
….The Corsi numbers also told the story. Through the final two periods Buffalo had the puck almost 2/3rd’s of the time – 64.8% to 35.2.
….Karl Alzner was a healthy scratch for the 7th time in nine games this season. Charles Hudon and Nikita Scherbak also sat this one out. Scherbak hasn’t seen a minute of action this season.
….After Calgary’s power play was shut out on Tuesday, the Canadiens penalty killers gave up two more in Buffalo including the game winner with 1:01 remaining. The Canadiens have now given up eight PPG’s in nine games. Their PK isn’t the worst in the league (22nd) but you can’t keep giving up an average of a power play goal a game and carry a winning record.
….Drouin, who had 7 points in his previous five games, was held off the scoresheet although he led the Canadiens with four shots on goal. Not one of Jeff Petry‘s seven shot attempts hit the net.
The Canadiens have moved on to Boston. They’ll play the Bruins there on Saturday night. Then it’s home to face Dallas, Washington and Tampa on Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday of next week. So far they’re 5-2-2 to start their season. After nine games last season they were 2-6-1.