Location: Tampa Bay
Habs Goalie: Price (L)
Opposition Goalie: Desjardins (W)
Habs goalscorers: Pacioretty
Opposition goalscorers: St. Louis, Kubina, Stamkos (2)
Want to know how worthwhile this game was to watch? The play of the game was our goal. It happened in the first minute. It wasn't a shot on net. Pacioretty did make a nice play by putting in the effort to get a round a defenceman. We'll chalk that up to the element of surprise. Other good plays included the first line change after the two too many men penalties - they got right back on track with the one player on, one player off routine.
The one piece of good news is that Plekanec's slump may be nearing an end. he looked good at points even. Using speed is key to his success and he's remembered that after a month or so of searching. It was a game with few great chances, but Tomas had 6 shots and 10 attempts on net. He was the best of the forwards for me.
This may never happen again, but Cammalleri makes the dome over on the strength of his PK duty. Some of the Habs best chances came shorthanded (I guess they had ample time to play down a man) and Mike was at the heart of a few o them. Really, as the offensive leader of the team, he should be better, but I thought he looked like he was trying.
Ultimately, with his single act, Pacioretty did the one thing Canadiens forwards as a group seem to have been unable to do for a couple of weeks now - put a dangerous puck on net. I didn't notice how he played the rest of the game really, but that goal was enough to dome him.
PK Subban - Game Puck
I lied, there's more good news. PK is regaining his mojo. The play of the game apart from the goal was a hit he timed on Thompson. At other times, I noticed him edging in on strong skates to swipe pucks like he used to. He even got a PP shot on net without it being deflected. The pairings need work, and the team misses Gorges, but get PK into more important minutes - he's turned a corner.
Puck control on the PP - how refreshing. He's no Markov, but he can handle a hard pass and block a clearing attempt. We didn't really get chance to see much of his shooting (thanks, Weber), but that should come. I'd say this acquisition has pleasant surprise potential. Replacement for Markov right now, and auditioning for Hamrlik's replacement in the future?
Not player of the game material, but Carey did alright. A penalty shot allowed against the best scorer in the league on the best move in the league is no black mark. Nor, to be honest is letting in a goal on a 5-on-3 (2x too many men!). Carey made some big saves and kept his team alive for a long time while they decided whether they were going to try and put their embarrassing "when trailing" records behind them.
RDS must get pretty excited for these games. A smorgasbord of French Canadiana down there in Baie Tampa. The Habs less so, as they continue their suffereing at the hands of St. Louis and now add Desjardins to the list of goalies they make look NHL calibre (keeping in mind he's a 0.900 AHLer this season). Personally I find this all a bit embarrassing. The fawning over everyone and anyone by the team of "pros" we must watch, but more importantly the way the Canadiens can't anticipate or ever rise to occasion themselves.
I don't have the tally of scoring chances for the Habs yet, but I wasn't lying when I chose the play of the game. I thought there may have been one, and it went in. In the first minute.
The defence on the team is a problem, but there's a solid explanation. Gorges is missed, Weber is teething and Wisniewski is used to treating 4 goals against like a moral victory. The offense on the other hand is a great concern. We'll no doubt be regaled with tales of Kostitsyn's secheresse next game, but Darche, Pouliot, Lapierre, Eller, Halpern, Moen, Gomez, none look like they'll be scoring very soon - or that they're particularly concerned about that. I'd still be looking to find a player who can actually play top line wing minutes, because apart from the art of having bad passes be deflected in, Pacioretty hasn't exactly ignited the goals since his recall. Barring that, I suppose it's a reshuffle. If that must happen, I'd hope that Pouliot is involved in some upward minutes following a session to view video of his play from October to December 1.
Finally discipline. What a shambles. The reffing was atrocious, and maybe even biased. However, the Habs need to adjust. This must mark at least the tenth straight game where more penalties have been yielded than drawn. It's a simple equation for defeat that. Hamrlik in particular just has to be told to cut it out. He's a costly penalty a game now.
Habs can wait till the cold light of day. All the better if they ring in the year with a win. If not, I'm sure it'll pale against the hangovers we're fighting.
Happy New Year everyone. Go Habs Go.