Wednesday, December 2, 2009

I don't want to talk about it, but I guess I have to

Montreal fell flat in their worst home game of the season to the one team we can't stand losing to, the Toronto Maple Leafs.

Montreal had about 15 minutes of offensive strikes against Toronto last night, the first ten minutes of the game and the final five minutes when they decided they didn't want to be shut out. Toronto ran the game and Price came a bit back down to Earth, he wasn't particularly good on any of the goals against him and his ninth start in a row was at least one too many from what I've seen from him of late. Price is making great saves, but he is making less of them now, time for Halak to get some starts and keep the competition between the netminder going.

Toronto ran the game, despite their goaltender Gustavsson having to leave the game because of continuing heart problems and 3rd-tier goalie Joey Macdonald stepping in and holding the shutout for Toronto, although Montreal rarely challenged him during the match.

Offensively: Impotent, the team had few scoring chances, D'Agostini and Scott Gomez's return did nothing for team offence and Kyle Chipchura's trade the following day showed what Jacques Martin felt about the journeyman forward being -2 when playing under 2 minutes during the whole game. D'Agostini seems to need some time back in Hamilton to rediscover the form he had when he had his initial goal-scoring streak when first called up in the 08-09 season. Pacioretty took another couple of penalties, one was a phantom but the other was right against him and while he's been improving lately, I can't help but feel he would be better used in Hamilton, learning the game under Guy Boucher, who seems the favourite to head the Canadiens in the future. Max Lapierre had no penalty kill time, which would indicate how much Jacques Martin likes my favourite forward from last season.

Defence: A shit show, that's what you call it. The team can't clear the defensive zone or win defensive zone faceoffs to save their lives at times, it is infuriating and there are far too many mistakes. Marc-Andre Bergeron is getting better, but mistakes are made with his play and O'Byrne is a welcome revival, but their pairing is risky with Bergeron's defensive liabilities and O'Byrne is still pretty green, despite his great effort. Mara had a better game, but it's not hard to improve on the defensive miscues he's had that led to the team losing games during his time here. Hamrlik and Spacek were their usual warrior selves, but they can only do so much and these long minutes on the two 35-year old players is becoming more telling. Josh Gorges is always a hard worker with a few good moves every night, but he's just not that good and I doubt he ever will be, career 3rd pairing on any team with good defence.

Goaltending: As I mentioned after last game, Price has been making his brilliant saves, but fewer of them and is missing on more regular stops that he should casually handle. His puck handling around the net seems to be more reckless, although given the defensive ability of the team to move the puck, I honestly can't blame him at times for taking the chances to get the puck out of his zone himself. Halak's turn to get in there, get a competition going with Carey for starts and let Carey mentally decompile from having had to sit in nets for 9 straight, buy the team 4 wins, 2 OT points and preventing a 10-0 blowout in Nashville during that time.

Three Canadiens Stars

- Andrei Kostitsyn
- Brian Gionta
- Andrei Markov

They didn't play, but they're the only Montreal Canadiens I liked last night.

Ex-Habs Recognition

- Kovalev and Koivu were held without a point and were -3 and -2 respectively, ouch.
- Christobal Huet stoned 10 of 11 Blue Jackets shooters in an 11-round Shootout decision for the Blackhawks last night, he was brilliant.

Shout-out to the Blackhawks:

- Congrats to Quenville on his 500th coaching win in the NHL
- Congrats to Brent Seabrook for a slick SO goal to win the game
- Versteeg had a great dangle on a shorthanded goal
- If Breant Seabrook and Duncan Keith are not a Defensive pairing at the Olympics, it will be the greatest injustice in all selections made for the Olympic Team, they have a magnificent chemistry between them that makes for the best top pairing in the NHL I think.

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