Nothing in recent years has acted as cooler for the Canadiens like a trip to St. Paul Minnesota. The team hasn’t won a game at the Xcel Energy Center since March 2011.
In the six straight losses at Minnesota the Canadiens have been outscored 30-12 and over the last three seasons the Canadiens have lost 7-1, 6-3 and on Tuesday night 7-1 again. There are also three straight losses at the Bell Centre which brings the losing streak to ten games.
The Wild are a decent team, but they aren’t that good.
Only two of the Wild”s seven goals came at even strength.
The Canadiens power play has been a two-year disaster and they gave up a shorthanded goal on the only PP opportunity they had in the game. But it was the penalty killing that was an absolute mess. Minnesota scored on all four of their advantages thanks to PK defence that was shockingly passive.
The Canadiens entered the game 19th in the league in penalty killing. They now are 26th to go with their 30th ranking on the power play.
After 31 games Montreal special teams are now minus-11 (14 power play goals vs. 25 against). The seemingly neverending story.
Everything Claude Julien has been preaching about structure and discipline was ignored Tuesday night. Along with the Canadiens passive work on special teams, the three non-power play goals were the result of poor efforts starting with Jeff Petry abandoning his check allowing Nino Niederreiter to tip in the first goal followed by an awful pass from Jonathan Drouin that led to a two-on-one and Charlie Conroy’s shorthanded goal to make it 3-0 and then Phillip Danault losing a defensive zone faceoff to Eric Staal and subsequently failing to contain Staal who scored on his own rebound.
There are some that will say “If only Carey Price had started it could have been different”. Price did stop all nine shots through the game’s final 13:50 but the Canadiens offence produced only one goal which isn’t enough to win a 95% of the NHL’s road games.
There was a brief ten minute period when the Canadiens took control but “control” is a relative term. They had the puck for a long stretch in the offensive zone but failed to produce much in the way of dangerous plays.O
One thing to note, after two periods the Canadiens trailed 4-0 and were outshooting the Wild 20-18. Thirteen of those twenty shots came from the defence including nine from the pairing of Kulak (5) and Weber (4).
….When the fourth line is your best, you know a team is having problems. Chaput, Deslaurier and Agostino had another good night, especially Deslauriers. They were on the ice for the Canadiens only goal and that made their night plus-one.
….Shea Weber was off his game for the first time most notably but not limited to the Charley Coyle shorthanded goal where he turned the wrong way as Coyle cut in front to score what turned out to be the game winner.
….Weber‘s partner Brett Kulak was pretty good again and I liked Noah Juulsen in his first game back. Juulsen logged 16:06.
….Phillip Danault had a brutal night. He was on the ice for five of the seven goals and finished minus-2. He did win more faceoffs than he lost but it wasn’t enough to save him from being booted down to the third line in the game’s final period. Jesperi Kotkaniemi was moved up to play with Brendan Gallagher and Tomas Tatar and the line showed some life for the first time in the game. Whether Julien elects to keep him there remains to be seen.
….Kotkaniemi was 69% of his faceoffs (9 of 13). As a team the Canadiens were at 46%.
….Minnesota set the tone of the game early. Through the opening six minutes the Wild had six shots on goal and hit one crossbar. Five of the six were high danger scoring chances. The Canadiens had one shot over the same stretch. The Wild opened the scoring on their 8th shot.
The Canadiens will spend Wednesday on their annual Christmas visits to Montreal hospitals and then it”s home against Carolina Thursday, Ottawa Saturday and Boston Monday. The their split six game holiday road trip begins in Colorado Wednesday, Arizona and Las Vegas Thursday and Saturday leading up to Christmas day.