Those seven minutes are a microcosm of what seems to be off-the-rails through the early part of the season.
Sloppy defensive work on the Lightning’s first goal. Poor penalty killing on their second followed by a bad line change and questionable goaltending on the third.
Three goals in a span of 1:28 spread over the first and second period. All it took for a 3-1 Tampa win at the Bell Centre.
When the first period hit the sixteen minute mark the Canadiens were outshooting Tampa 9-2 (Petry’s power play goal was their ninth shot). Then it their game unraveled. Through the period’s final four minutes the Canadiens stopped moving the puck, were outshot 6-0 and with seven seconds remaining gave up the tying goal after the Kotkaniemi line plus Shea Weber and Victor Mete were pinned back in their own end for almost two consecutive minutes.
In the first minute of the second period Brett Kulak was penalized for boarding. On the Lightning power play Steven Stamkos was left all alone to score what was ultimately the game winner. A chaotic Canadiens line change 57 seconds led to Tampa’s third goal. Carey Price could have been better as well. It was all the Tampa Bay need for the victory.
Shea Weber and Victor Mete were on the ice for both even-strength Tampa goals. It’s obvious to anyone who’s paying attention that the 34 year old Weber has slowed considerably. It’s also clear that his partner is not making life easier for him. Victor Mete has simply not developed defensively (or offensively for that matter) the way most thought he would after a promising rookie season. Weber may be showing his age, but with some support he can still be effective. He can’t do it alone any more. Mete isn’t the answer. Unfortunately, there is no reasonable available replacement in the organization which has been an issue for GM Marc Bergevin since the end of last season.
CHANGING OF THE GUARD
In five of the Canadiens six games, Jeff Petry has logged more ice time that Weber. Unlike Weber, Petry has been dominant no matter who is selected to be his blueline partner (He started with Ben Chiarot. Now it’s Brett Kulak). Petry scored the Canadiens goal on one of his team-leading six shots on goal. His ice time was 24:04. (Weber logged 19:40 and counted one shot).
SHUFFLING THE DECK
By the third period Julien had seen all he wanted to of the Kotkaniemi/Drouin/Armia line. Seemed to me that Kotkaniemi wasn’t engaged in the game either physically or mentally. By the third period he found himself as a left winger on the fourth line while Nick Suzuki had been moved up to centre Joel Armia and Paul Byron. By game’s end the only intact forward line was Danault/Gallagher/Tatar.
The Canadiens have handed their opponents at least one power play goal in each of the six games.; allowing seven goals in the eighteen times they’ve been shorthanded. It leaves them 29th in the league with an appalling kill rate of 61.1 percent.
On the other side, the Canadiens scored on their first power play opportunity. Their next four opportunities were reminiscent of what we saw a great deal of last season and that is not good.
ALSO WORTH NOTING
….Interesting to point out that Nick Suzuki drew the second highest amount of power play ice time -5:17 to Petry’s 5:18.
….Petry’s six shots on goal led the Canadiens. Max Domi had five.
….For the game the Canadiens outshot Tampa 34-22; 25-10 after the Lighting took their 3-1 lead. Some credit due to Tampa goaltender Andrei Vasilevskiy. Five-on-five high danger scoring chances were 9-3 in the Canadiens favour.
….Should we be asking questions when Paul Byron is the one to lead the Canadiens in hits with five? Suzuki and Jordan Weal were next with 3 each.
….The Canadiens won 60% of the faceoffs with Nate Thompson winning 11 of 15 (73%).
The Canadiens are now 2-2-2 for the season and 1-2-0 on the current home stand. It wraps up with a game against the struggling Minnesota Wild Thursday. They’ll be in St. Louis and then Minnesota on Saturday and Sunday. Both will be afternoon games.