Whitby - November 26, 2011 - It is a good thing the American Thanksgiving holiday only comes around once a year. The Montreal Canadiens were in the festive spirit to give thanks to the Philadelphia Flyers and Claude Giroux for an awesome display of physicality and offensive skills on Friday afternoon.
The Canadiens were totally dominated by the Flyers in the second period of Friday’s matinée contest and suffered a 3 - 1 loss at the Wells Fargo Center. If it weren’t for the heroics of Canadiens’ netminder Carey Price, the score could have been a whole lot worse. Price stopped 33-of-36 (.917 save percentage) Flyers’ shots, but one man, a team does not make. Price could not be faulted for this abominable loss.
In a game that Montreal did not deserve to win, Flyers’ netminder Sergei Bobrovsky made some key saves in the game; the most notable coming at the six-minute mark of the final frame when he stopped Erik Cole from in close quarters with a left leg save.
The Canadiens did open the scoring at 18:14 of the first period when Petteri Nokelainen recorded his first goal of the season. The Flyers turned over the puck too many times in the first 20 minutes, giving the Canadiens ample opportunity to build a commanding lead, but such was not. Les Bleu-Blanc-Rouge only managed the one goal and in the second period, ‘Habs’ fanatics saw the Canadiens collectively disappear from the contest and allowed Philadelphia’s offensive skills to dominate for 20 minutes.
Claude Giroux would score two of the Flyers’ three goals in the period with Jakub Voracek registering the third. Giroux was impeccable in the contest as he handled the puck very well all afternoon. Giroux has quickly become one of Philadelphia’s leader on the ice.
Hockey fans (such as this writer) in both Eastern Ontario and Quebec continue to enjoy watching his offensive game ever since Giroux’s early days in the Central Junior Hockey League with the Cumberland Grads and later with the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League’s, Gatineau (Hull) Olympiques.
This contest for Montreal could have been a lot worse had Flyers’ captain Chris Pronger and veteran goal scorer Jaromir Jagr suited up. Both players were held off the Philadelphia roster as they were nursing injuries. With the loss, Montreal now owns a 10-10-3 record going into Saturday evening’s contest versus Sidney Crosby and the Pittsburgh Penguins at the Bell Centre.
Netminder Sergei Bobrovsky (3rd star, win, 23 saves, .958 save percentage), Jakub Voracek (2nd star, one goal and one assist, plus+3) and Claude Giroux (1st star, two goals, plus+3) were the announced three stars of the game. There were 19,991 spectators on hand at the Wells Fargo Center.
For a complete statistical review of the game and individual Canadiens’ player performances, please see the NHL.com link below.
Game Stats Review
Canadiens’ captain Brian Gionta led the team with 25:18 minutes of icetime, was a minus-2 and had 4 shots on goal.
Rookie defenseman Alexei Emelin was a force on defence once again, delivering six of his team’s 23 hits.
Montreal was outshot 24 to 36 in the contest. The second period was definitely the team’s worst as they were peppered 18 to 5 in shots on goal.
Montreal was dominated (Tomas Plekanec excepted) in the faceoff circle by Philadelphia:
David Desharnais went 9-for-19 (.474 winning faceoff percentage)
Lars Eller went 3-for-7 (.429)
Petteri Nokelainen went 1-for-8 (.125)
Tomas Plekanec went 7-for-11 (.636)
Montreal’s too many men penalty in the first period was the Canadiens’ sixth bench minor of the season to date. The Canadiens lead the league in bench minors so far and were also the winners of the same statistic in the 2010-11 NHL season.
Habs’ coach Jacques Martin indicated Andrei Kostitsyn may return to action on Saturday night. (Don’t be surprised to also see Andrei Markov return on Wednesday evening versus the Anaheim Ducks as he has been skating with the team for some time now).
Scott Gomez was the sole scratch of the game for Montreal.
Jaromir Jagr, Chris Pronger and James Van Riemsdyk were the scratches of the game for Philadelphia.
Until next time, play every game as if it is your last.