“We weren’t sharp” In his post game interview Canadiens coach Claude Julien used that phrase five times. He said it in both official languages.
It was an understatement. The Canadiens were flat, sloppy, incohesive and uncoordinated. Basically it was a culmination of much of what we had been seeing sporadically since the season opened. This time they paid the price.
Most think Detroit is a team that will be battling with Ottawa to avoid the Atlantic Division cellar. The Canadiens made them look like Stanley Cup contenders and but for Carey Price they might have scored seven or eight goals. Shots on goal were close; 35-34 in the Canadiens favour.
But, dig a little deeper and you find a completely different story.According to naturalstattrick.com scoring chances favoured Detroit 27-16 and with his defense running around in front of him, Price had to deal with 12 high danger chances while the Canadiens produced only four. In other words an excellent start by Price was wasted.
BLUE LINE BLUES
If there is ever an area that needs a good shaking up it’s the defence. Nothing is working. In three of the four games the top pairing of Shea Weber and Victor Mete have been operating in parallel universes. Weber is looking slow and Mete is supplying little or no support. Jeff Petry is doing his own job while also worrying about Ben Chiarot’s struggle with Claude Julien’s system. Meanwhile Brett Kulak, last year’s best left-side defenseman sat in the press box the last two games. Odds are Kulak will rejoin the lineup Saturday against St. Louis and it won’t be on the third pairing.
Since the season started the line of Kotkaniemi, Armia and Drouin has been the steadiest and generally most effective. The Kotkaniemi line recorded exactly half of the sixteen Canadiens scoring chances. Drouin posted six and Armia five.
Armia scored his third goal of the season thanks to a great setup from Drouin. Drouin has a point in each of the season’s four games. Armia has his three goals plus an assist in the last two games.
ALSO WORTH MENTIONING
….The Canadiens power play has been very good; operating at 33% with goals in each of the four games – 4 for 12.
….Canadiens penalty killers have also been scored upon in every game – 5 for 15 – which at a 66% kill rate is horrible.
….Tomas Tatar continues to struggle. He started the game in his usual spot on the line with Phillip Danault and Brendan Gallagher. He was quickly shuffled down to the Domi/Suzuki line with Artturi Lehkonen moving up to finish the game with Danault.
….Part of the improved Canadiens power play is the play of Jordan Weal. Weal equaled Shea Weber in power play time at 2:58.
….Detroit had not won a game in regulation time at the Bell Centre in 12 years, dating back to 2007.
The Canadiens will play their third game in four nights on Saturday against the defending Cup champion St. Louis Blues. The home stand will continue next week with games against Tampa Tuesday and Minnesota Thursday.