In their first game since the death of a man who best represented what the Montreal Canadiens were all about, both on and off the ice, this Habs team was outshot 30-10 through the first 40 minutes by a Ryan Suter-less Minnesota Wild team and eventually dropped a 2-1 decision during Wednesday evening NHL action.
Montreal - December 3, 2014 - In their first game since the death of a man who best represented what the Montreal Canadiens were all about - on and off the ice - this Habs team was outshot 30-10 through the first 40 minutes by a Ryan Suter-less Minnesota Wild team.
Inexcusable, indefensible and inexplicable.
I'll let others try to take out 7th or 8th defenseman Bryan Allen. It was the Habs best players who were largely responsible for the no-show in the first two periods. Except for their goaltender who saved his teammates from an embarrassing loss.
I thought wearing the number 4 on their helmets would have produced a better effort. Maybe I'm just caught in a time warp.
When pride still mattered.
Carey Price. Allowed a weird, bad goal just 19 seconds into the game. And a borderline high stick deflection goal by Jason Pominville. But he kept his team within reach. Too bad they didn't seem interested in winning it until it was much too late.
Dale Weise. The Habs best player. He's playing very good hockey indeed. But if Dale Weise is your best forward you're in deep trouble.
Habs killed off a five minute major in the third period. Held the Wild scoreless on five power plays overall. But then again, everybody seems to be able to stop Minnesota's power play. It's the second worst PP unit in the league (9%), trailing only Buffalo (7%).
Alex Gachenyuk finally broke his scoring drought. It took an extra attacker on the ice and a wide open net but Galchenyuk scored his first goal since November 11 against Winnipeg (12 games). It was just his second goal in 16 games. Let's see if this ignites his stick. I think it will.
Where to start? How about the leadership group? I expected a passion-filled performance from the four players who are vying to be the next captain. Instead it seemed like the moment might have been too much of a burden. The Tomas Plekanec - Brendan Gallagher - Gachenyuk trio was a non-factor, with two shots on goal between them before Galchenyuk broke Darcy Kuemper's shutout bid. The Lars Eller trio was just as flat. And David Desharnais - Max Pacioretty - P.A. Parenteau/Jiri Sekac/Dale Weise looked far removed from a genuine offensive threat.
There were dumb penalties by Alexei Emelin - again (he actually had the audacity to question what he did wrong after cross checking Zach Parise in the chin) and Eric Tangradi who might have penalized himself out of a job after zapping what momentum the Habs had built up by the six minute mark of the third period by slamming Christian Folin's face into the glass from behind. Tangradi got Folin right in the numbers to draw a five minute major and a game misconduct. Not too bright with a healthy Michael Bournival ready to jump back into the line up. The Habs had only one power play opportunity. It lasted a total of 26 seconds after Sekac - with a rare opportunity to start a PP shift - interfered with Jared Spurgeon.
As the Habs limp into the one-third mark of the schedule (one win last five games; outscored 16-9) the big picture remains ok. But GM Marc Bergevin must be keeping a close eye on how things are going in Hamilton. Especially for Nathan Beaulieu and Jarred Tinordi. And maybe Charles Hudon as well.
He had zero shots on goal against his former team in nearly 17:00 of ice time, including over 6:00 of power play time. He has scored two goals in 24 games this season. Remember when many in this city were urging Bergevin to back up a Brink's truck to the front door of Thomas Vanek? But enough about him.
Mitch Melnick is the host of Melnick in the Afternoon on TSN 690 - Montreal's Sports Authority. Mitch also has his own website at MitchMelnick.com where you can find his blog, music links, upcoming events, neat photos and more. Listen Live to Melnick - weekdays from 3:00 - 7:00 pm. If you have questions or wish to contact Mitch, you can email him at firstname.lastname@example.org