GAME #57 – NOT ENOUGH OFFENCE – Nashville-3 Canadiens-1 (Feb. 14, 2019)

Feb 15th, 2019 | By | Category: Canadiens, Canadiens Game Story, Latest News

It’s always a matter of talent.

Sometimes hard work can overcome a talent deficit. In Nashville it wasn’t to be.

Carey Price kept the Canadiens in the game through a scoreless first period. In the second period they shook off whatever rust they seem to have accumulated in their four days off but couldn’t score on any of their 21 shots and 11 high danger scoring chances.

Two of the Canadiens mistakes wound up in the net; Jonathan Drouin on the first goal and Jordie Benn on the game clincher and Nashville ended a three game losing streak with a 3-1 victory.

THE MISSING LINK

After being dominated in the first period the Canadiens were outshooting the Predators 11-1 in the second when Drouin had one of his all-too-frequent brain cramps. His forced cross ice pass attempt from his own zone was intercepted by Craig Smith. Ryan Hartman batted Smith’s rebound past Price for the game’s important first goal. Drouin’s night included only one shot on goal, two giveaways and minus-2. In other words, we saw the bad version of Drouin.

GAME CHANGER

Just before Nashville scored the game’s first goal the Canadiens had a power play opportunity that could have changed the complexion of the game. They didn’t get a shot on goal. Twenty-nine seconds after the power play ended the Predators had their 1-0 lead. The Canadiens managed only four shots in their six minutes of power play time.

For the last three years the power play has been in the hands of Kirk Muller, who returned to the Canadiens with the reputation of being a special teams guru. It might be time to bring some new thinking into the mix.

THE FOURTH LINE

Twenty-three seconds into the game Claude Julien put his newly formed Nate Thompson/Dale Weise/Nicolas Deslauriers line on the ice. It wasn’t much of a debut. In the span of seven seconds the Predators took four shots on Carey Price and registered three high-danger scoring chances.

After their shaky first period I thought they started to get a feel for each other. Ultimately the line combined for six shots on goal and five hits. Thompson won 6 of 11 faceoffs (55%) and Weise won 2 of the 3 he took. The line also produced six shots on goal which can be considered a bonus. Thompson also logged 3:07 of the six minutes the Canadiens were shorthanded. Weise also energized his teammates with a key block of a Ryan Ellis shot.

SUBBAN VS. WEBER

Much like the meeting of the teams in January, I didn’t find either P.K. or Weber particularly inspiring in this game. Playing in his 900th career game, Weber was steady defensively but contributed little to the Canadiens offence. P.K. drew first assist on the game-winning goal and had five mostly harmless shots on goal. We’re told Subban is still working on fine-tuning his conditioning after a long stint on injury reserve.

ALSO WORTH MENTIONING

…..Tomas Tatar scored the Canadiens only goal. He had seven shots on goal, three of them ‘high danger’.

…..A difficult night for the Danault/Drouin/Gallagher line.  Gallagher and Danault were on the ice for all three Nashville goals.  Drouin was minus-2.

…..They don’t score a lot but the Kotkaniemi line continues to control offence when they’re on the ice.   Kotkaniemi/Armia/Lehkonen attempted 9 shots to the Predators 5  for a Corsi rating of  64.29%.   Of their eight scoring chances, five were considered ‘high danger’.

…..It should be mentioned that, while the Canadiens came into the game with the league’s 30th ranked power play, the Predators are ranked 31st and equally inept.

….Carey Price stopped 35 of the 38 shots he faced. He is now 7-1-1 in his last nine starts.

….The loss left the Canadiens holding the first Eastern Conference wild card berth, two points ahead of Pittsburgh and three points behind Boston and third place in the Atlantic Division.

MOVING ON

The final of the four game stretch against Stanley Cup contenders comes to an end on Saturday night against the league-leading Tampa Bay Lightning. Most agreed that picking up half of the available eight points over the four game stretch would be an accomplishment. So far they have three of a possible six points. They’ll complete their road trip at Florida on Sunday before facing Columbus at the Bell Centre on Tuesday.

2 Comments to “GAME #57 – NOT ENOUGH OFFENCE – Nashville-3 Canadiens-1 (Feb. 14, 2019)”

  1. david deVries says:

    I called this game the ‘Great Give-away Contest’. The defense made
    some bad passes, Kulak and Benn did not have a good game. Petry tried
    a slapper that ended up a break away. Thank goodness Price was on
    his game.
    This team has no ‘finishers’. So many chances and no goals to show
    for it. How can the Power Play be so inept? When on the Power Play
    Canadiens look like they are the man short. For me it was a hard game
    to watch. The outcome could have been different except for so many
    give-aways that let Nashville win.
    It was painful to see P.K. high-fivefing all his teammates after the game.

  2. Ned Stark, Warden of the North says:

    There shouldn’t be a surprise on why we can’t win those games in the past week CS Leafs, Preds and Lightning. You only need to point the finger in the direction of Bergy. Inept trading and drafting since he got here. This is year 7 and after almost 80 or so trades he has only added 4 Top 6 forwards and 2 Top 4 defenders. Although the way Drouin is playing you might have to tag him lower as a 3rd or 4th liner. Speaking of 4th liners. This is Bergy’s forte. Bergy loves these so called “character” players who are used sparingly to spell the other lines. They are supposed to bring energy but are more known for their lack of scoring ability. This is another characteristic of Bergy’s acquisitions -> they don’t score much. He isn’t big on that. He still isn’t aware that the NHL still requires you to out score your opponent by one goal to win!

    As for why our deadly Power Play units don’t score more often? Well when you are ranked 30th out of 31 in the league for that category and 20th in PK then it tells you a couple of things. You either have the wrong people or you have the wrong systems or a combination of the two. Our Power Play units tend to enjoy just passing the puck. They entirely enjoy passing the puck way too much! Bergy traded for Weber because he scored lots of goals in the past on the PP. Unfortunately, for the two of them Scouting and PK Defensive play have gotten much better. Teams are defending Weber differently now. One of the ways is playing closer to him in order to block or deflect his shots away. Weber makes it easy because he is practically stationary and hardly moves at all. He also can’t carry the puck very far up ice. Almost always he passes to his partner before he reaches our blueline. But the rest of the unit plays along the perimeter throughout the PP. We hardly ever challenge inside. By being on the outside we make ourselves so much easier to defend. How many times have we seen the results of the most recent PP opportunity end with no shots on goal or even worse than that giving up a short handed goal.

    Something has to change. Julien is now running the PP and all I can hope for is for him to bring out one of his old tricks. When he was in Boston he used Chara playing in front of the goalie. That’s what he needs to do now and put Weber in front of the net. Then put Petry in his spot on the point and take Drouin off the ice. He’s useless out there. He’s the team’s biggest liability right now but because he’s Bergy’s “Pet” he can do whatever he wants without any accountability. You know how he QUIT on his teammates on Saturday in Tampa. Of all the teams that should bring the most out in Drouin’s play it doesn’t. In every game he’s played against his old team he’s been a non factor and invisible for the most part. Of course he showed up Saturday nite in the 3rd with that soft across ice pass that was easily intercepted by the Tampa forward who then scored on the turnover. Gee we hadn’t seen that happen with Drouin for at least 1 game…..exact replay of the Preds game Thursday.

    Things need to change and some hard decisions need to be made. Bergy needs to step up and make some proper decisions to fix this team.

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