(Article written by Casey Wells.)
Stop me if you have heard this before… The Montreal
Canadiens came out strong and built a 2 goal lead on Sunday afternoon.
Unfortunately, they then watched their lead diminish and suffered another loss
by a score of 4-2. Montreal
continued their battle with futility by putting on an underwhelming performance
The Habs came out strong in the
first period. They got on the board early as David Desharnais corralled a pass
from Erik Cole and outfought three Florida defenders
to put in his 12th goal of the season. Montreal then took advantage of a 5-on-3
man advantage, as P.K. Subban buried a snap shot from the point while Max
Pacioretty provided some excellent net presence. Montreal‘s
defense stood strong, and did not allow the Panthers to have a shot for the
first 11:00 minutes of play. Unfortunately for Habs fans, it went downhill from
After Peter Budaj made a sharp save on Jack Skille, it
took only moments for Stephen Weiss to bury a rebound after a point shot from
Keaton Ellerby. The Panthers took control from here
and were able to draw a penalty on a late period breakaway that would leave the
Montreal Canadiens shorthanded to start the second period. After the final
buzzer in the first, Ryan White and Erik Gudbranson had a lengthy tilt that
resulted in fighting majors for both.
The Panthers made quick work of their man advantage
in the second as Sean Bergenheim got the outside edge
over Yannick Weber and scored on a poor angle shot
that Budaj should have stopped. Less then three minutes later, Weiss would score
his 15th of the season and second of the game after
collecting the rebound from another poor angle shot by Mikael Samuelsson.
In the third, Brian Campbell showed why he is a favorite
of Panthers GM Dave Tallon by putting in the insurance goal with a little over
10 minutes left in the third. An uninspired Montreal team played out the third
with the sole bright spot coming from a beautiful pass from Alexei
Emelin to Raphael Diaz that lead to
a decent scoring chance on Scott Clemmensen
just as Diaz stepped out of the penalty box.
The Montreal Canadiens remain 15th
in the Eastern Conference and 28th overall. With 19
games remaining, it may be safe to say that this season is done. Meanwhile, the
once pitiful Florida Panthers have been jostling for position with the Winnipeg
Jets (68 points) and the suddenly resurgent Capitals (67 points) for the lead in
the Southeast division. With
70 points, and 3 games in hand over the Jets, Florida may get the coveted home
advantage for their first playoff appearance since 1999-2000.
Interesting enough, topics of trade speculation
Chris Campoli and Mathieu Darche were scratches before the game.
This was Peter Budaj’s first game since a loss
to the Washington Capitals on February 4, 2012.
Florida has a 3-0-0 record this season against
the Habs with 1 more game remaining in the series.
This was Montreal‘s
fourth loss in a row and they were 5-4-1 in their previous 10.
Is it time to trade Plekanec?
I believe that there can be a case made to trade Tomas
Plekanec. Though he wears the ‘A‘
for the Habs, and some fans have the perceived notion
that ‘Turtleneck Tom‘ is a
perennial candidate for the Selke trophy, his stats and play tell a different
story. He appears to be one who disappears when the games are the biggest,
performing worse in the playoffs then in the regular season, and is the worst
among Montreal forwards with a minus 18 rating. Simply put, Tomas Plekanec does
not have what I believe is a winners‘ edge.
The winners’ edge is when a player is able to bear down
when it matters most, and do what it takes to win. Erik
Cole did this with the Edmonton Oilers and Carolina Hurricanes. Carey Price did
this with the Hamilton Bulldogs, and Hab fans favourites
Scott Gomez and Brian Gionta did it twice with New
Jersey and led the charge to the Conference Final in 2010. I believe the winning
edge is what has separated a determined Sidney Crosby to the enigma that is Alex
Ovechkin. Simply put, winners do, what losers don’t.
In the playoffs, Plekanec has been a minus 7 player over 5
seasons with the Montreal Canadiens. In a grand total of 47 playoff games,
Plekanec has accumulating only 10 goals. Is this what one expects from a second
line centre? With 5 years remaining on his contract, is it time to trade