We knew the Habs would start to lose on a more regular basis without Carey Price and Brendan Gallagher. But to see a couple of their best players directly contribute to a loss was a rare sight. Maybe it was just their turn. Otherwise it was more of what we’ve seen through this losing skid – Montreal out skating and outplaying their opponent but with an inability to finish. And no production on the power play. Throw in some shaky looking goaltending and you have a team still searching for a solution beyond good health. With the rested and ornery Kings up next at the Bell Centre (following a loss in Ottawa and a couple of days in Mt. Tremblant) followed by an eight game road trip, it could get worse before it gets better. Much worse.
- Nathan Beaulieu. It wasn’t just an awful game by Montreal’s oldest player that resulted in Beaulieu being moved up to the top D pairing. He was one of the very few Montreal players to follow up on a very strong game against Ottawa.
- Dale Weise. Finally. First goal in 12 games. After all the near misses from in close, Weise breaks out via a shot that deflected in off Marc-Edouard Vlasic. Funny how that works. His more regular line mates – David Desharnais and Tomas Fleischmann – were also on the ice. The goal was his 10th of the season matching his career high, scored in 64 games a season ago. Maybe Weise is starting some kind of streak with three points in two games.
- Daniel Carr. One of the reasons Christian Thomas was traded.
- Alexei Emelin. The other Montreal defenseman who didn’t treat the puck like a live grenade.
- Torrey Mitchell. Welcome back. Somebody had to fight Barclay Goodrow. Didn’t hesitate for a second even though he was way out of his weight class. It says a lot about the guy.
- Carey Price. Winner of the 2015 Lou Marsh Award. Needs one more trophy.
- Andrei Markov. Who was that? The last time Markov played as little as 17:07 in a game was the final game of the dreadful 2011-12 season after he had just returned from his second knee injury.
- P.K. Subban. Caught up the ice on the opening goal after “trying to do too much”. Had trouble keeping the puck on his stick in his own end. But at least he led the rush that resulted in Montreal’s only goal.
- Tomas Plekanec. Might have left it all on the ice during that late third period PK shift Saturday against Ottawa. His only shot on goal was a soft backhand which he failed to lift off the ice against a prone Martin Jones.
- Paul Byron. Useful guy but not with Plekanec and Max Pacioretty.
- Alex Galchenyuk-Sven Andrighetto-Lars Eller. Did they play? Combined for one shot. Eller got nearly 90 seconds of power play time (to Galchenyuk’s 28 seconds) but still couldn’t generate anything.
- Power Play. The Mojo is gone alright. All the talk about zone time and possession means nothing if it doesn’t result in actual goals. Back to the drawing board for J.J. Daigneault.
- Dustin Tokarski. God-awful. If Christian Thomas can lose his spot in the lineup and subsequently the organization after taking a dumb neutral zone penalty-thus losing the trust of his coach-then what does this performance say about Tokarski? I know the goals were giveaways but he looked lost. How does a goalie end up on his stomach facing in the opposite direction of the goal scorer after a two on one is buried behind him (Joel Ward to Patrick Marleau)? Tokarski was off balance and slipping and sliding even when he stopped the puck. Maybe he was unsettled by seeing Price receive a standing ovation. It’s difficult to not like the guy and his back story. But if he can’t put more than two solid outings together then I don’t know if Therrien can go back to him. He had already lost the coach to start the season but appeared to be battling back. The Sharks are not a very good team. But the Habs needed a save. And as much as the Markov-Subban duo (and top line) contributed to the San Jose goals, Tokarski simply did not look like an NHL goaltender. I figured Mike Condon would start against Los Angeles even if Tokarski looked ok and won. But now it’s Condon’s job again. What happens if he gets smoked by the Kings? Nothing, unless Marc Bergevin wants to revisit the waiver wire.
- Kelly Sutherland. Veteran NHL ref allowed a 4th line “energy” player to take out a star defenseman with a dangerous looking hit from behind. So Torrey Mitchell did what Sutherland failed to do. As I said when discussing this issue on the air with Pierre McGuire this week – if the NHL is serious about eventually heading to a fight-free zone than their referees have to do a much better job of protecting star players. This could be Exhibit A.