Location: Washington DC
Loss: 2-3 (SO)
Habs Goalie: Budaj (L)
Opposition Goalie: Neuvirth (W)
Habs goalscorers: Cole, Plekanec
Opposition goalscorers: Perrault, Beagle (Hendricks, Semin, SO)
Erik Cole - Game Puck
Let's face it, no shootout shot for Cole in this one was an admission of defeat. He was the most dangerous shooter all night and he's been the most dangerous all season. IN this game, he scored of course, but impressed at many other points as he recognized the standoffish defending to cut to the middle on many more occasions than usual. His best play came when he did this, had his shot blocked and proceeded to recover the puck, walk around more defense and get an even better chance away.
On RDS they were talking a bit about Eller. I heard but wasn't really registering. I think they were saying that he needed some wingers. It was very apparent in this game. What Eller can do well is baffle that first defender. Often after that he opens a great passing lane or just walks into second coverage. Get him a pure scorer who knows positioning (imagine we had had one of those to gel with him...) and he'll make these plays count for more than good impressions.
Pleks is having a sub-par season and has played most of the time with slumping (sometimes incapable) wings. So when he notched his 16th goal and 50th point, it was an opportunity to remember his quality. In better circumstances, he's a 70-point producer who can make a scorer's life easier. He was good in this one. His goal was outstanding.
I've already alluded to his PP skill. IN tonight's game, I thought he stepped up from recent games his defensive play as well. The Habs really did play quite a good defensive coverage after that 2nd Caps goal and Markov was a big part, often seen ushering his mar wide or stealing the puck from unexpectant stick.
It's perhaps a bit boring that Subban keeps getting the write ups. He is earning this recognition now by simply being the best defender on the ice. There's a lot we already take for granted with Subban. It's important we shouldn't forget that much of that are things others simply could never do. He'll be as disappointed as anyone that the season ends in a week. However, for him that lottery is guaranteed to mean something.
Budaj ended with a familiar clatter in the shootout. 0 saves, 1 miss, 1 loss. In the game he was adequate and was complicit in gathering the unwanted point. In the comments for yesterday's game, Bruins24 mentioned the complete black hole after Carey Price in Canadiens goaltending, and I'd include Budaj here. He's been OK, but not an option to replace Price in the event of injury. For that reason, one must think his last minutes as a Hab were played out in a Washington shootout.
When they make the playoffs, they squeak in. This team appears to want to squeak in the other way too. They played a heck of a last 40 minutes plus OT to get a point. They should have and so nearly won. Fortunately, that bad luck that placed them in this scenario made a timely return to halt the unfortunate.
All will be thrilled to hear that the Leafs also won to prepare a 4 point gap and leave the Habs in the losing seat. Minnesota have a point as I write in OT, and we'll hope for another. The Habs look poised to go bottom 5 and possibly bottom 3 with a team that really needs a defender. The possibility of Grigorenko, Yakupov or Galchenyuk is getting pretty exciting.
The big game this week, however, takes place in the boardroom as any decision on GM will be 100 times more important than even a 5-draft pick swing at this stage. The rumour is that Molson and Savard are formalizing the list come Monday for the hunt. I don't agree with CBC panels who suggest a wait for a failed GM. I think Molson would have waited to fire Gauthier if he agreed with the Milburys of the world. It could be a week as exciting as any playoff push. Hold onto your hats.