Up 2-0 after one period, this one had all the makings of an easy win for the Montreal Canadiens. But then they decided to take the rest of the night off, and Florida used those last 40 minutes to score four unanswered goals to come out with a 4-2 win. It was an inexcusable effort, and one wonders if the day off they were given under the Florida sun or the absence of a sparkplug like Bégin contributed this disappointed result.
Montreal 1-0: Florida starts off strong, so honestly when you think about it the Habs didn’t even play 20 good minutes all night. But their first goal gave them some momentum for the rest of the period. Ribeiro gains control of the puck behind the net, then finds Zednik in the slot with a nice backhand pass… even though Zednik is closely covered he still manages to get the one-timer off and puts it past Luongo.
Montreal 2-0: Odelein is called for cross-checking, and the Habs first line keeps producing on the PP. Koivu wins the draw over to Markov, who slides it along the blueline to Souray. He lets his booming shot go, Luongo is powerless to coral the rebound and Koivu pots his third of the season. At this point the Habs seem in full control of the game.
Florida 1-2: The Canadiens come out for the second period completely listless, and Florida grabs the momentum for the rest of the night. With the Ribeiro line on the ice with Quintal & Bouillon on defence, the Habs are completely lost in the defensive zone. Florida controls the puck for what seems like an eternity, the eventually break the defence down… Biron shoots from the point, then Kozlov & Jokinen both get a crack at the rebound, the latter finally puts it in.
Florida 2-2: Despite being completely outplayed, the Habs are still clinging to a 2-1 lead as they come out for the 3rd period… but that doesn’t seem to motivate them in the least. Perreault add to his ineffective play by taking an interference penalty two minutes in and it takes Florida all of 3 seconds to cash in. Juneau wins the faceoff in the defensive zone, which should be a good thing, but Quintal is so slow in retrieving the puck and he has it knocked away from by Jokinen right in the slot to Kozlov who knocks it.
Florida 3-2: The only positive for the Habs at this point is that they are still tied… so they take care of that right away. This time it’s Ryder who gets careless in the offensive zone, he turns the puck over which sends Florida on a 3-on-2 break… Cullen shoots it off Bouillon who was battling with Horton in front of the net, and it deflects past a helpless Theodore.
Florida 4-2: Then to seal the deal, another mistake by a rookie. Komisarek tries an ill-advised cross-ice pass in the neutral zone that gets picked off… the defence are surprised by the quick counter-attack, Kolnik finishes off a nice play by Cullen on a bad angle shot into an open net as Theo never had time to get over. The poor goalie was left out to dry tonight.
- Julien decided not to dress Bégin even if he insisted he was healthy enough to go, and a healthy Juneau was allowed to return to the 3rd line… a line that was probably the team’s most effective 5-on-5 tonight. What seemed to hurt a lot more was the absence of Breezer, because the team was left with a pretty bad Rivet, a really struggling Quintal, and a green rookie in Komisarek.
- In a shocking turn of events, Florida was called for goalie interference twice as the Panthers kept running into Theo as all teams do these days. But that doesn’t help much when the Habs PP doesn’t make them pay.
- The 4th line of Kilger-Perreault-Audette was totally ineffective, even when they were used on the power-play… none of these three deserve to be on the team, let alone in the lineup. Bégin & Ward get healthy quick, please, and let’s get Langdon back in there.
Habs’ hero: Theodore was on his own tonight… I never thought I’d say this but the defence was really missing Brisebois out there. José held the fort and kept them in it as long as he could. Besides that the 3rd line of Sundstrom-Juneau-Dackell used their puck-control style to create some good chances… although it’s not a good sign when those three are creating the most offense.
Habs’ zero: It has to go to the defence… as a whole. Besides Souray who threw his weight around and used his great shot to get an assist on the PP goal, the rest of the defence was bad tonight. The worst was Quintal, who continues to really struggle after a surprising good start to the season. Bouillon was couldn’t handle his man in front of the net and he ended up screening Theo and having the puck deflect off him into the net. Rivet & Markov were turning the puck over all night, and Komisarek cost the last goal with his bad pass in the neutral zone.
The first line did well on the PP, and the second line scored the opening goal… but besides that neither had themselves a good game, not to mention the 4th line which was plain awful.
After the first period I was ready to write about how the Habs seemed more confident these days, that they were playing like a team and seemed about to collect another important 2 points in their race towards the playoffs. And then it all fell apart, from the start of the second you kept waiting for the Habs to snap out of it… but momentum is not something you can switch on & off. Once you let it go, you might never get it back and that’s what happened tonight.
I can’t put into words how disappointing the effort was tonight, but what’s done is done. What concerns me more at this point is how bad the right side of the defence is without Brisebois in the lineup. The Habs can’t afford to have both Rivet & Quintal not playing well, and if neither can turn their games around soon that will be something Gainey will have to address if he hopes to make the playoffs this year.
The only good news is that the Habs get back on the ice right away, the face the Tampa Bay Lightning Saturday night.