Smart, passionate and somewhat biased commentary about the Montreal Canadiens (HABS) from a lifelong fan now living in Toronto (LeafLand).
Dec
22
2010

Gamus Horribilis — Habs Shot Down in Dallas

Sure, you can’t win ‘em all.

And I have no problem with the Habs losing a game where they are soundly defeated.

But last night’s game left a bad taste in my mouth for a variety of reasons. This was the kind of game that makes me wonder “Why the hell do I waste my time watching this shit!?”

The Habs beat themselves in this one and were never in the game. From the first shift where Spacek took a puck right off his knee, to Benoit Pouliot missing an open net, to Carey Price looking quite mortal, nothing went right for the Habs and nobody was firing at full capacity last night.

And it’s not that the Stars even played a good game. They were outshot and outchanced… so how come such a commanding 5-2 victory??

Turnovers and the inability to finish. The Canadiens plain and simply played a terrible game… a gamus horribilis.

Jack Ruby shoots Lee Harvey Oswald
1964 Pulitzer Prize, Photography, Robert Jackson, Dallas Times Herald

Bound to happen right? I guess… but there are some major issues this team is going to have to address, if they want to show the fans and the league that their start to the season wasn’t just a blip on the radar screen.

Finish the Offensive Plays

This is where the size issue that everyone in the media harps on seems to play out. And since goals are at a premium for this team, they better start taking advantage. Now.

The Canadiens can’t finish their plays!!! MaxPac, who is the rare player who can honestly say he had a strong game, had a couple of goals on his stick but made Lehtonen look good. But he’s new. What about the rest? Plekanec and Cammellari were complete no-shows last night, with Eller’s presence on their line barely making an impact. Do we blame Kostitsyn for this too!? He didn’t even play, which was a mistake in my view. More on that later.

Pouliot missed an open net on a 2-in-1 with Lapierre. Be stronger, hungrier on the puck man!! That goal would have made it 3-2 and put some wind in the Habs’ sails. From the replay, it looked like you just had to extend your stick to tap it in. You had the man beat. Lapierre looked pissed. What happened soon after? Dallas made it 4-1.

How many times did Habs players whiff, fan or get off a half-hearted shot in the scoring zones last night!? Wayyyy too many times.

They couldn’t get their sticks on the juicy rebounds Lehtonen consistenly provided last night. Get a freaking rebound goal for crissakes!! Man, they’re off in the corner getting rebounds, shooting from sharp angles praying to bounce the puck into the net off the goalie. Pretty pathetic. Get some net presence. But even when players park themselves in front, they don’t win battles and don’t come out with the puck.

But start by going to the net! Scott Gomez, stop pivoting at the top of the circle. Pass, sure. But then go to the net. Even on the Gionta goal, he stood watching the Captain shoot instead of launching himself towards the net looking for a rebound.

The only one who seems somewhat good at crashing the net is Darche… who scored the Habs’ first goal. And MaxPac is doing it, but let’s see how long it lasts. He wasn’t even in anyone’s thoughts 4 weeks ago. This team regularly loses battles in front of the opposing net and they need help with this. Enter MaxPac. Because Maxwell or Desharnais down on the farm are not the answer…

Stop the Turnovers

Lord, how many times did the Habs turnover the puck last night in their end? I’m going to start calling them the Pillsbury Doughboy turnovers!! What happened to their solid defensive play? Suddenly they look very unconfident an unsure of themselves in the D-zone.

Everyone can have an off night, but last night had to be Josh Gorges’ worst game in a Montreal uniform. His turnover at the Dallas blueline led to the Stars’ second goal of the game — shorthanded; and the 4th goal, he deflected past Carey Price when he tried to stop a Richards shot from the point that Price would have saved with his eyes closed.

He also “donated” the puck quite a few other times. We all know what you can do Josh, so we’ll forget about this one. Try not to remind us of it.

Picard’s play also for the first time put some doubt into whether opting for him over Ryan O’Byrne was the right decision. He’s been solid, but his play is also starting to lag.

Subban had a rough night too. Looked like he hurt his finger in a fight, then got clocked to the head later in the game which left him stunned.

Man, do we miss Markov.

Poor execution — in all zones

This speaks to the team’s inability to finish their plays, but they couldn’t make or receive a pass last night for their collective lives!! Passes consistently in the skates, fumbling shots, trying for stick checks and missing, skating over the puck, skating over each other… the Habs could have lost against their farm team the way they played last night.

Is this a lack of skill or practice!? Definitely not. This is going on between their heads… someone call in the team psychiatrist.

I am not sounding the alarm or pushing the proverbial panic button. The Habs are stumbling and we know they can play better. Now it’s a matter of rolling up their sleeves, and maybe winning some games for their prized goaltender, instead of counting on him to save their asses night after night.

——————————-

Undoubtedly, it was a frustrating night for goaltender Carey Price. Although he hasn’t been as sharp as he was earlier in the season, it’s hard to blame the guy:

First goal, weird one off a deflection — because Burrish went to the net hard and interfered with Price. This shouldn’t have been a goal, but not because of Price. Who was watching the point?

Second goal, shorthanded breakaway — again, not Price’s fault. He can’t be expected to save all breakaways. That said, he essentially made the save, but when things go bad, you don’t get the bounces. And the puck fluttered over his right pad and into the net.

Third goal, speaks to above points. Turnover in our zone. Puck comes back to the point. Price makes the save, falls on the puck. But then one, count ‘em, one Dallas Star player in front is able to beat four… that’s right, four Montreal Canadiens to the puck and put it past a beleaguered Price. Ech!

Fourth goal, after Darche scored to give the team some hope… which was quickly dashed. The aforementioned Gorges, I mean, Richards goal.

Fifth goal, another deflection by another Stars forward going to the net, uncontested.

Should Martin have put in Alex Auld for the third? He’s sick apparently, and if for some chance the team was able to rally, better to keep Price in. It’s a game he needs to forget, for sure.

Well this game really blew up in Coach Martin’s face. Sitting Kostitsyn may have sent a message to him and the rest of the team, but ended up badly. Eller didn’t have an impact on the Plekanec line. Remember, Brother Andrei is third in team scoring. With the Habs not scoring… he must re-enter the lineup, and let him play through his drought. We did that with Gomez… but it must be said that chances are, Kostitsyn is not one of Martin’s favourites and is on a short leash. He could be trade-bait.

As for Martin, well he looked kind of exasperated after the game and who could blame him? Now a down in the dumps, looking for answers team heads to Raleigh where they typically lose, even if the Habs are the better team. Typically, Cam Ward plays his best games against the Habs.

After the loss in Denver, Mario Tremblay quipped on RDS’ “L’Antichambre” that if the Habs lose the first two games on this 7 game road trip, uh oh. Unfortunately now his theory will be put to the test, and we’re all rooting for Mario to be wrong.

I had hoped the team would come out of this with at least 10 points. To achieve this, they have to win the next 5 in a row. Toughie.

Possible? Of course. Probable? I wouldn’t bet on it.




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