Over the last decade the Canadiens have sent teams of varying ability out for their annual Western Canada swing. Over that time we have seen those Montreal teams play games the quality of which have run gamut from terrible to dreadful. The level of Tuesday night’s 6-2 loss in Edmonton was little different. Although it was deceptively close up to the third period it was obvious the Canadiens were in the process of getting their collective lunch handed them by the Oilers.
THE WRONG PATH
It’s becoming a pattern. For the fourth time in a row and ninth time in the last twelve games the canadiens have up four goal or more. In the eight games since the Canadiens shut out Boston October 27th, they have allowed 37 goals, which works out to 4.5 per game.
That impressive start to the season is now an illusion. In reality they have won nine and lost nine and heading in the wrong direction. Their defence ranks 26th in the league. I don’t expect Shea Weber to be in competitive shape until ,of January. At that point it could be uphill to win a playoff berth.
Uneven is the best word to describe Antti Niemi‘s night. I didn’t think much of what turned out to be the winning goal by Drake Caggiula which came off one of Niemi’s habitual rebounds. But, when the score was 3-2 still in the second period he was brilliant on Ryan Nugent-Hopkins and then on Leon Draisaitl. The shear weight of 43 shots and a string of two-on-one breaks finally fell in on him in the third period. Canadiens goaltending could be better but they also need some help.
Max Domi and Andrew Shaw. That’s pretty much it. Domi erased that early 1-0 Edmonton lead with another one of those shots that picked the top corner. His tenth goal of the season. He also assisted on Shaw’s fourth goal in the three games since he moved up to the Domi line. The play of Domi and Shaw overshadowed linemate Jonathan Drouin. .
ALSO WORTH MENTIONING
….There are so many things the Canadiens aren’t doing well. Faceoffs are just one of them. 41% in this game. They now rank 30th in the league at 45.0% (only Colorado is worse)
….Phillip Danault led the team with four shots on goal. Sorry, I can’t remember one of them.
….You can never underestimate the motor that drives Brendan Gallagher. He simply wasn’t going to go quietly. While most of his teammates had pretty much packed it in when the score got to be 5-2, Gallagher’s competitive juices seemed to boil. He took on everyone in the final minutes of the game culminating with that duel with Alex Chiasson with less than five minutes left which got him cross-checking and unsportsmanship penalties.
….Artturi Lehkonen had two shots in the game, one of them on a clear breakaway while killing a penalty in the second period. His only goal this season was 18 games ago on opening night in Toronto.
….Edmonton has now won eight of their last eleven home meetings against the Canadiens.
Thursday night it’s Calgary and Saturday in Vancouver. Both of those teams are doing better in the standings than Edmonton. Then they’ll be home to face Washington next Monday