While a quick look at the current standings predicted the outcome of Thursday’s contest between the Habs and the Kings, this game did not follow its supposed script, making the 4-0 Los Angeles victory a disappointing outcome to the effort deployed by the Habs on this night. Much like the score did not reflect the Panthers’ effort on Tuesday, the Habs surely did not deserve the four-goal gap in scoring on this night. However, one must start to consider the regularity to the inability to score for the bleu-blanc-rouge. This should not and can not continue to be ignored by fans and management. In the end, it was an overall good effort spoiled by untimely turnovers and an inability to be mentally tough to get back into the game.
The opening period started much like a championship chess match. Both teams mostly studied the board, making sure that they weren’t going to be the first team to commit a costly mistake. Luckily for both teams, the few chances that did get through the defenders were quickly met with all-world goaltenders in Carey Price and Jonathan Quick. Both netminders made a few saves but were forced to make quality saves in the opening 10 minutes of play. With 5:09 to play in the period, Victor Mete lured the Kings forecheckers into a penalty. The Habs PP will be a topic of discussion later, as this was the first example of getting a ton of zone time and not looking dangerous at all. Montreal really controlled play for a few minutes after the man advantage. However, the Kings would strike first with a minute to play as Price moved the puck up which surprised Paul Byron (How? No other goaltender handles the puck like Price!). The turnover proved costly as Adrian Kempe tipped home a point shot. 11 seconds later, Victor Mete coughed up the puck during a zone exit which allowed Tyler Toffoli to walk in uncontested on Price and slapped one through Price, who likely would love a second chance at that save. Unfortunate but familiar story to this period as they dominated most of the period, but gave up a pair of goals to find themselves trailing after one.
Philip Danault and the Canadiens came out flying on the first shift of the second period and were quickly rewarded with a second power play. Jonathan Drouin found Shea Weber for a few bombs, but Quick was ready for it. The domination on the period continued and before the five-minute mark, Montreal was headed back to the man advantage, which would prove to be as effective as the first two chances. After the penalties were expired, the Canadiens continue to absolutely dominate the period. After Drouin hit the post, Danault was robbed by Quick on a savvy redirect. Montreal was then gifted a third advantage which turned out to be rather short thanks to a Jeff Petry penalty.
During the 4-on-4, Anze Kopitar broke in offensively and fooled Price with a high shot, a second goal on the night that Price won’t be happy about. It was a nice shot by Kopitar, but Price usually makes that save. The ice continued to be tilted heavily in favour of the Habs, but Quick continued to make the saves look easy, notable saves on Artturi Lehkonen and Andrew Shaw demonstrated his dominance on this night. After two periods and 39 minutes of solid hockey, the score was 3-0 Kings nonetheless.
Both teams came out rather flat to start the third as the outcome appeared to be accepted by both teams. Montreal got a few scoring chances, but nothing was unnerving Quick on this night. At the other end, Mete sent a bit of a suicide pass toward Max Pacioretty who didn’t get the puck out of the zone. The outcome was point shot that bounced over Price after a deflection from Shaw. This goal completely deflated the Habs as the last 15 minutes of the game went uncontested for the home team. They were awarded one last power play, but the team had clearly stopped skating by that point even if Drouin hit his second post of the game at this time. It was a disappointing game and period, and fans in attendance were heard loud and clear as they booed throughout the last two minutes of play.
1. $8M on offence
While many fans are rightfully sarcastic when quoting Marc Bergevin regarding his claim that this year’s blueline is better than before, it is necessary to admit that they have settled down over the last few games. On the other side of the puck, the team continues to create a ridiculous amount of chances on the opposition net without having the required skill to finish said chances. This leads me to an obvious conclusion: The money sitting in the bank needs to be spent to acquire some talent up front.
2. Place the PP to succeed
This is, at least, the third time that this point is brought up, but it’s just so painful to watch the Habs on the man advantage right now. Never mind the recent statistical success of the power play because two if not three of those goals were scored off the rush. The fact remains that this team looks incredibly dangerous yet is unable to score when up a player because the players are not deployed on the ice in positions to score. This point starts and ends with Pacioretty on the right shooting spot. He’s been there for a long enough amount of time to conclude that he isn’t comfortable there, that he can’t get the one-timer off. Move him down where he can put in rebounds, or even in the middle to get a shot off from the left side. Place Alex Galchenyuk on the right where he’s scored most of his goals over the last two seasons. If Galchenyuk is off (which has happened often since the start), then Lehkonen also looks more comfortable than Pacioretty shooting from that spot. Time to finish plays after all of that zone time.
3. Davidson vs. Petry
This discussion is too early, but let’s entertain this thought anyways. If Jakub Jerabek were to be called up, or if David Schlemko were ready to play tomorrow, which defender is being removed from the lineup? For the better part of the last two weeks, Brandon Davidson has shown to be much better than his preseason self. Jeff Petry, on the other hand, has been an unmitigated disaster all over the ice. As of right now, he’d be my pick to take a seat if someone needed to be removed. However, I must specify that in no way or shape should he be removed from the lineup in favour of Joe Morrow.