Really? The Detroit Red Wings did the Canadiens in?
Possessing the league’s worst offense, worst defense and worst record the Red Wings were still capable of taking advantage of third period Canadiens defensive blunders to come from behind and hand them their seventh straight loss. The Red Wings have won only eleven of their 45 games this season. Three of them, almost a third of their wins, have come against the Canadiens.
There is a point when a floundering team finally gives up the ghost and resigns itself to an early spring. Despite this recent losses Tampa, Pittsburgh and Winnipeg I felt the Canadiens were still showing a desire to compete. Against the Red Wings it just wasn’t there. There is a point when a floundering team finally faces the reality of a lost season and mentally gives up the ghost resigning themselves to the fact that spring will come early. Based on the lack of commitment shown Tuesday night in Detroit, that time may have arrived.
There have been good times and bad times with the Canadiens defense this season. This one ranks in the latter category.
With the Canadiens leading 2-0 Charlie Lindgren stopped two close in shots with no defensive protection before Frans Nielsen finally made it 2-1. Detroit then tied the game when Ben Chiarot coughed up the puck. 2-2. The Canadiens took a 3-2 lead but Shea Weber decided to pinch up in the neutral zone allowing Nielson to break away and tie it again. And then to cap it, Bret Kulak had his pocket picked in the corner for the game winner. No wonder Claude Julien was in a foul mood after the game.
NOT WHAT WE EXPECTED
For somebody who had not shot a puck in anger for almost two months, Ilya Kovalchuk has put in two pretty good nights work. I didn’t think he had as much jump as he did Monday night against Winnipeg which might be expected under the circumstances. Still he collected his second and third assists in two nights. The no-look pass to Victor Mete for the go-ahead goal in the third period was especially remarkable. He also had a good game defensively and that was totally unexpected. After starting the game on the Danault line, he was quickly shifted to the left wing with Suzuki and Domi where he collected both of his points. Kovalchuk logged the most minutes among forwards at 21:22.
As previously noted, Charlie Lindgren could wish for a little more help than he got from his defense. The Wings had 12 high danger scoring chances in the game. They scored on four of them and there was nothing he could do about any of them. Lindgren has taken losses in both of his starts since his call up. In the first appearance at Carolina he had no offensive support. In this game it was the defense that let him down.
ALSO WORTH MENTIONING
….Artturi Lehkonen’s shorthanded goal was his third in three games and his tenth of the season.
…..Nick Suzuki scored his 8th goal and with 25 points now ranks fourth among the league’s rookie scorers
….The Canadiens remained in 25th in the overall league standings but dropped to 13th in the Eastern Conference with a below .500 record of 18-19-7.
….New Jersey, Ottawa and Detroit are 29th, 30th and 31st respectively in the overall league standings. Against the three of them the Canadiens have a record of 1-4-2; three of a possible fourteen points. The only win came in overtime vs. the Senators.
….From the stats report – Tomas Tatar and Victor Metes each posted four shots on goal. Marco Scandella recorded six hits. Shea Weber played close to half of the game – 28:24.
The Canadiens have returned home. They’ll face the surging Edmonton Oilers Thursday at the Bell Centre. Only New Jersey and Detroit have fewer home ice than the Canadiens so far this season. Saturday night the Canadiens conclude their week in Ottawa against the Senators.