Number one was the brilliant work of Carey Price.. Number two, the lousy effort put in by the Canadiens in support of Price.
The game was an inexplicable reversal of Tuesday night’s win over the Bruins in which Price’s work was criticized and the play in front of him was outstanding.
What we are seeing in the early stages of the season is an unsettling pattern of the Canadiens following a well executed win with a terrible team effort.
TEN MILLION DOLLAR MAN
Carey Price has had his share of critics this season, including in this column. Although he came into the Philadelphia game with a winning record, there was nothing remarkable about his statistics or any of his outings.
Thursday night we saw the Carey Price that earned that ten million dollar annual contract. While his teammates were stumbling around in total disarray, Price was facing a barrage. Halfway through the game, the Flyers had 21 scoring chances, 11 of the high danger variety. The score was 2-0. It should have been 6-0. Up until the overtime he was on-the-puck and his positioning and goalcrease movement was by far the best we’ve seen this season. That work allowed the Canadiens to get their act together in the third period and to tie the game. It’s ironic that after all that, Sean Couturier’s game winning overtime goal was one he’d like to have back.
There was a strange pattern to the Canadiens game. Early in the first period they were actually outshooting the Flyers 9-5. Then for some reason they completely fell apart. The rest of the period shots were 13-3 Flyers and by the end of the second period it had ballooned to 29-10. At one stretch in the Canadiens failed to test Flyers goaltender Carter Hart for almost thirteen minutes. The Canadiens were marginally better defensively in the third period and managed to tie a game that they surely deserved to lose in regulation time. The Canadiens picked up a point on the road without earning it.
Tomas Tatar silenced a lot critics with his play last season after coming over as a throw-in component of the Pacioretty trade. This year he seems to have reverted to the inconsistent effort that had earlier made him expendable in Detroit and Vegas.
Tatar took two more penalties against the Flyers. He had just come out of the box when the Flyers scored their second goal. Penalties are part of the game. What drives coaches crazy is lazy penalties; unnecessary restraining fouls usually caused by a players lack of effort. Tatar has ten minor penalties in sixteen games, most of them because he was playing catch-up on his opponent. In this game it was ‘holding the stick’ and ‘hooking’. After the second penalty, Claude Julien relegated him to the fourth line and in the third period Tatar was given only three shifts. This is the second time Julien has demoted him. Patience is clearly running thin.
….Defensemen Shea Weber and Ben Chiarot accounted for the Canadiens scoring. Going back to the Boston game, the defense has scored the last four Montreal goals.
….There has been a little critical noise about Weber’s play this season but he has eleven points in the season’s sixteen games leaving him only two points behind team leaders Gallagher, Drouin and Tatar. He led the Canadiens with five shots on goal.
….Canadiens penalty killers had a rare good night. The Flyers came into the game with the best power play in the league. The Habs killed all of them, although James Van Riemsdyk scored only six seconds after one of them expired. Price also stopped a penalty shot.
….Bullies no more. While the Canadiens were assessed those six penalties, the Flyers played the game penalty-free. Led by six from Joel Armia and five from Chiarot, the Canadiens also out-hit the Flyers 34-27.
….Canadiens won 50% of their faceoffs against a team that is at the top of the league in that department. Danault was 62% and Thompson 55%.
….A rare bit of good news out of the game came from Paul Byron who over the last three games has shown a gradual improvement in his skating. He again failed to register a shot, but progress is noted.
The Canadiens have taken nine of twelve possible points over their last six games (4-1-1). They have a chance to fatten that Saturday night at home against the 30th ranked LA Kings. Tuesday they’re home to Columbus before back-to-back games at Washington Friday and New Jersey Saturday at the Bell Centre.