GAME #42 – HARD LESSON – Nashville-4 Canadiens-1 (Jan. 5, 2019)

Jan 6th, 2019 | By | Category: Canadiens, Canadiens Game Story, Latest News

Calling it a “statement game” had become something of a hockey cliché in recent years. Call Saturday night’s more of a “measurement game”. And the Canadiens didn’t measure up against the Nashville Predators.

Not that we should be surprised. The Canadiens, who are trying to establish themselves as a wild card team in the East were playing a team that is on the short list of Stanley Cup favourites.

NOT READY

Compounding the problem was the lack of mental preparedness on the part of the Canadiens. They were dominated in the first period and fell into a 2-0 hole against one of, if not the best defence in the NHL. With the lead the Predators were able to dictate the game and they did it convincingly. By standing up at centre ice the Nashville defence took away most of the Canadiens transition and speed.

WEBER/SUBBAN

Call it a saw-off. Shea Weber logged 24:52 and scored his sixth goal of the season, a goal that briefly got the Canadiens back in the game at 2-1. He also gave us the check of the night on the Predators’ Rocco Grimaldi.

P.K. Subban assisted on the Predators first and third goals but was limited to 14:45, the fourth fewest minutes among Nashville’s defensemen.  Like Weber, Subban is coming back from injury.  It was his sixth game since his return.

STYMIED

The Canadiens defence had a tough night. Part of the problem could be attributable to a lack of help from the forwards, but there were moments when the second and third pairings seemed to be hesitant and not operating on the same page. Brett Kulak and Jordie Benn were completely out to lunch on the sequence that created the third Nashville goal which came only 18 seconds after Weber had narrowed it to 2-1.

GOALTENDER INTERFERENCE?

There were calls from the Canadiens bench that goaltender interference should have been called on Craig Smith on that third Nashville goal. There is a lot of confusion about what constitutes interference these days but not on this play. With both Kulak and Benn lying on the ice at the side of the net, Carey Price tried to step out of the crease to tie up Smith. Smith bounced off the check and circled the net for the wrap-around.

Overall, Price was just all right. He had a clear view and I thought he should have got his glove on the Ekholm shot which turned out to be the winning goal.

KK

I have no idea how this fits into the overall scheme of things but Jesperi Kotkaniemi became the third member of the Canadiens to score 20 points before his 19th victory (Mario Tremblay and Petr Svoboda are the others). The youngest player in the league won a faceoff in the Nashville end and then created a turnover to set up Weber for his goal. It was not a great overall night offensively for the forward lines but Kotkaniemi/Armia/Lehkonen were best, both on offense and defense.

DISFUNCTIONAL

Claude Julien seems to be content to ride out the current Max Domi/Jonathan Drouin slump despite indications they might need to be split up for a time. Domi and Drouin were each minus-three on the night. They combined for three shots. Meanwhile Paul Byron seems wasted on the line.

ALSO WORTH MENTIONING

….Tomas Tatar led the Canadiens with five shots on goal.

….I don’t think the fourth line had a very effective night but Kenny Agostino led the team with five hits. Weber and Kulak had four.

….Phillip Danault took almost half of the Canadiens 66 faceoffs and won 57% (17 of 30). As a team the Canadiens finished at 47%.

….The Canadiens hits two cross-bars; Max Domi in the game’s first minute and Jordie Benn when Nashville was leading 1-0 in the first period’s sixteenth minute.

….Nashville checking forced the Canadiens into 22 turnovers including 18 giveaways.

MOVING ON

The Canadiens will play the first of three sets of back-to-back games over the next thirty days. They’re at home to Minnesota Monday and in Detroit on Tuesday. After Detroit they move on to St. Louis Thursday before returning home for Colorado next Saturday night.

One Comment to “GAME #42 – HARD LESSON – Nashville-4 Canadiens-1 (Jan. 5, 2019)”

  1. Ned Stark, Warden of th North says:

    “Statement Game” – each time the Habs enter one of these type of games against the league’s Top 8 teams the answer always seems to be “Epic Fail” as the final result. That failure begins with Coach Julien. Like Therrien before him Julien seems to provide pre-game speech’s that puts the team to sleep. Along with that Julien fails to make any in game adjustments or use a time out to properly focus on what they need to be doing starting right now!!

    Saying Byron is a waste on the Domi line is just covering up the real issues facing the Canadiens. First off the blame light should be focused on: Bergevin and Julien. Bergy is responsible for the make-up of the team. Byron is not a Top line or 2nd line player. Ideally he should be on the 3rd line. Let’s see if the Preds are icing one of if not the best defence men on the ice then where are the Habs ranked? Has to be near the bottom since we seem to be down a minimum 2 if not 3 defensemen. Mete if he is going to be an NHLer on our team is a 3rd liner at best! I’m sorry but his lack of size and strength make him totally ineffective inside our blueline.
    Speaking of Weber…..yes he put the hammer down on that Preds player. But he jumped right back up. On hits like that we want the other guy wobbling back to his bench with no serious long term effects. But very noticeable this year players are not running away from Weber. If anything they are battling hard along the boards or behind the net with him. For a guy that big HR does not use his size always to his advantage. Petry jumping into the rush tonite in the 1st period was beautifully set up by Domi but was not able to finish it. Kulak should not have been paired with Benn. No one should be pared with Benn.

    So if you look at our Defense it’s: 1st pairing – Weber and Mystery Partner
    2nd pairing – Petry & Kulak
    3rd pairing – Mete/Reilly and Myster Partner #2

    So as you can see we need some help back there. Bergevin hasn’t done anything so far to deal with this except “addition by subtraction” in waiving Alzner. He needs to recall Juulsen immediately to plug the 3rd pairing up now.

    I didn’t mind Kulak on the 1st pairing with Weber but rightfully he and Petry make a solid #2. So it’s Weber for now and our next “worst” defensemen. It’s going to be up to our Captain to carry Benn until a better option presents itself. We don’t need Bergy making one of his blooper moves sending our Top Prospects away for old veterans on expiring contracts. We don’t need him giving away any top draft picks for more of his favourite types of players -> “Karacter and lack of talent” types. That is the key wors…….talent!! We still don’t ice enough of it each game. That’s on Bergevin to improve that aspect for this team. I’m sorry but trading away 1st Rounders or wasting the picks can’t happen any more. Sergatchev for Drouin was a mistake. Tampa isnt missing him and look where they are in the standings. Yyserman recognized early enough that although Drouin has some speed and talent but he doesn’t have the mental strength to show up and play his best each and every game. Especially against the Top teams! But tonite like he usually does he came out with his “don’t hit me you brute” jersey on. If you watch Drouin carefully you can see his weakness. He refuses to compete! Watch him carry the puck up ice. Oh he’s fine when no one is near him but the minute a defender closes on him he does one of two things. He either slows down and tries to make a pass or dumps it into the opposing end. But it’s the other one that disturbs me. He quits competing. He turns toward the boards and heads back for our end. He never forces the play……..for his supposed speed he doesn’t seem to have an extra gear to blow by defenders. Why? Why does he not use it like so many other talented players in the league. I’m sorry but something has to be done with his work ethic to see if there really is the “next great French Canadien SuperStar” like Bergy said he was when he acquired him. So that’s up to Julien to get on him. No more soft glove treatment. Switch him with Tatar or even down another notch to Finn-Line. Nope! Julien either won’t do that or Bergy won’t let him. But that has to stop! It’s not fair to the rest of the team‼️ He needs to fit in or its time to get rid of him. I know he’s Bergy’s little spoiled child but that has to change because it’s hurting the team.

    Price: yes maybe he should or shouldn’t have had that 2nd goal tonite. I think you’d have to ask him about it. Not sure if it knuckled on him or was just a high riser that beat him. As for the 3rd goal……that’s on Benn for being out of position once again. The Habs Defense all night once again gave up the front of the net leaving an opposing forward between them and Price. I’m not sure about this strategy because it’s not working well. If having our DMen out further in order to block shots from the point. Well Subban had no problem getting his bombs away and on target. What’s the purpose of having a great goalie if he can’t see the shots coming at him? Tonite the first goal was a result of no defender to clear a loose rebound. The 3rd goal: Price indeed did force the play by moving into the forward in front of him and push him to the outside. Problem was both his defensemen were even further away from the net. Kulak tried to get back into the play but couldn’t take the Pred forward out but failed. Benn tried to get back into the play but made things worse. Hell of an effort by the Preds forward to follow thru and get that goal.

    Julien looked lost tonite just like his players. The Preds for checked very hard tonite. They certainly got the message from their coach after their indifferent game the previous night in Detroit. The Habs had the day off after beating VCR on Thursday. So what happens……we come out totally flat once again. This pattern needs to stop!

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