Montreal - October 10, 2013 - I was wrong.
I keep telling Tony Marinaro that it's not a terrible thing to have to say. As long as it doesn't happen over and over again.
Like keeping P.K. Subban off the penalty killing unit (Total time on ice for PK on PK - 0:00. Penalty Kill success rate - 50%).
I thought the Desharnais - Briere - Pacioretty line would have a big night, especially on the power play. But if they can't generate offense against an inexperienced, defensively challenged team like Calgary, when can/will they?
Last stop Edmonton?
- Lars Eller. Has scored in all 3 games. Once again his line led the way.
- P.K. Subban. Almost single handedly brought Habs all the way back.
- Andrei Markov. Played game high 27:23 (Let's see how much ice time he logs in Edmonton). Robbed of a certain PP goal by Flames goaltender Joey MacDonald. On the other hand, the Habs - as a team - made career back up MacDonald look like Glenn Hall.
- Carey Price. I can hear the grumbling. Especially after he allowed two goals on the first five shots he faced. But he kept his team in the game with a series of spectacular saves. That was a tough rebound he allowed on the game's opening goal by rookie Sean Monahan but in reality all three Calgary goals were scored from the same spot - to Price's right, just in front of the crease, with nary a Montreal defenseman in sight .
- P.K. Subban. Took a pair of bad penalties in the offensive zone as his team was attempting to dig itself out of a hole. The cross checking penalty with less than two minutes to play was inexcusable.
- David Desharnais. I was wrong.
- Daniel Briere. He can't shoot the puck.
- Rene Bourque. 500th NHL game not one to remember.
- Tomas Plekanec & Brain Gionta. Looked like they were skating uphill.
- Ryan White - Brandon Prust - Travis Moen. The Habs 4th line got off to a bad start with a neutral zone turnover by Moen while White was caught out of position leading to the opening goal. The night didn't get much better as they finished a combined -6 with four shots on goal and just two hits. White, who also had a rough night in the face off circle (33%), needs to bring more energy and physical presence, especially with Michael Bournival itching to play. Can't help but wonder if his last two NHL scraps (one sided losses to Wayne Simmonds and Jarred Cowan) has left White a little gun shy. I really thought this line would also have a better night in somewhat familiar surroundings. White is a former captain of the Calgary Hitmen. Moen isn't a native of Alberta but it's closer to home (Swift Current, Saskatchewan) then he'll be all season. And Prust played for Calgary from 2006 - 2010. I was wrong.
- Francis Bouillon. Yes the Habs were technically killing a penalty while the final minute or so ticked away but what in the world was he doing simply dumping the puck out of the zone while the Canadiens tried to organize a final rush or two with five skaters on the ice and an empty net?
- Special teams. Power play was 1-6 while the PK unit batted .500.
- Habs blueline. Softer than the inside of a Joe Louis.
- Well, there was a very uncharacteristic giveaway by Prust who sent the puck blindly into the middle of the ice 15:00 into the second period - and Subban's late penalty - but I have to go with Michel Therrien. His total lack of faith in Subban to help a lousy penalty kill unit should have GM Marc Bergevin and the Hockey Operation department demanding a better answer than "It's very demanding". Plus, while Subban spent four minutes in the penalty box it still doesn't explain being under used at just 22:05. Bouillon, who also took a penalty, played 31 seconds less than Subban. Four days after saying he would reward players based on performance, Therrien played the NHL's most productive centreman through three games (yes that would be Lars Eller) a total of 15:59 while the ineffective Desharnais played 16:32. Other than one line and maybe one defenseman, Therrien needs to do a better job of getting more out of his players. He surely recognizes that Brandon Prust has to play with better linemates. He did throw Prust out for one extra shift in the third period to play alongside Plekanec and Gionta. He can surely see there is virtually no chemistry 5 on 5 or, even worse, on the power play between Desharnais and Briere. On special teams there is the Subban puzzle plus Therrien's insistence on using Bouillon on the second power play unit alongside Raphael Diaz. Is it too much to expect to see Nathan Beaulieu in that role instead of being used as a salary cap yo-yo? Solution? Put Prust alongside Briere and Max Pacioretty. Insert Michael Bournival. Use Beaulieu. Voila. Desharnais? Try dealing him to Dallas. For Erik Cole. Am I Wrong?