Three steps forward, four steps back. That’s how it seems right now as the Habs found a way to lose a game (remember the Marcus Foligno quote following the Sabres win in Montreal?) they could not afford to lose, without at least a loser point against a bad team that would have been run out of their own rink by almost any other NHL team. With a few exceptions this was the Canadiens team we’ve seen in disarray since December – long stretches of dispassionate play, too many no-shows, too many defensive errors, an inability to finish, and no saves.
The Sabres were badly beaten the night before in Philadelphia, had lost four in a row and had allowed 12 goals in their last two games. The Canadiens needed an all out attack in the first period. And while they did score early, they stopped playing. By the time they picked it up again they trailed by three goals.
Plus ca change…
- Alex Galchenyuk. Happy Birthday. His one-timer from above the right face off circle has become the Habs go-to power play weapon. His two goals puts him on pace again for his second straight 20 + goal season. His second goal made up for a bad neutral zone give away which sent Foligno in alone and resulted, eventually, in the Sabres forward scoring on a penalty shot. If you’re among those who still have doubts about Galchenyuk consider this – He’s in his 4th season in the NHL without a day spent in the AHL and because of an injury played all but two games in Junior at Sarnia during his draft year. And he’s just 22.
- Sven Andrighetto. If you combine his Montreal and St. John’s season totals Andrighetto has scored 16 goals in 48 games. An offensively challenged team could use more of that.
- Lars Eller. Did everything but score. Needs better line mates.
- Tom Gilbert. When Tom Gilbert is your best defenseman…
- David Desharnais. Finally showed some signs of offensive life with two assists including his first power play point in over 30 games. But he also muffed a couple of legit scoring chances from in close. He has scored just one goal since the Winter Classic (16 games).
- Max Pacioretty. Outplayed by Desharnais and Andrighetto. Too quiet against a team that is not difficult to play against. Recent power outage (one goal in 10 games) has resulted in Galchenyuk becoming the #1 left winger on the team. For now.
- Andrei Markov. His two assists on Galchenyuk’s goals gave Markov his first multi-point game since October 23 when he had a five point night – also in Buffalo. But it wasn’t enough to erase his horrid giveaway which led to Buffalo taking a 2-1 lead with just 18 seconds to play in the first period. Not surprisingly, the Sabres scored two more goals early in the second and the game was pretty much decided.
- Alexei Emelin. Misses Jeff Petry.
- Greg Pateryn. First game in five weeks. I didn’t expect anything more than what we saw – which was a stay at home defenseman struggling in his own end. Did the coaching staff expect more? We’ll find out Monday in Arizona since Nathan Beaulieu appears ready to play again.
- Paul Byron. At least he’s back. Played like a guy who missed three weeks.
- Tomas Fleischmann. Enough already. I know the effort is there. But surely the Habs could get better results (one goal, two assists in 31 games) with Bud Holloway or Charles Hudon.
- Torrey Mitchell. Couldn’t even win face offs (30% – but he had company. Sabres ate up the Habs on the draw 62% – 38%. Tomas Plekanec was even worse losing 12 of 16 face offs).
- Devante Smith-Pelly. So much for third line status. Is it asking too much to see more than two periods in a row of NHL level intensity?
- Dale Weise. Impressive disappearing act. Moping because Andrighetto has replaced him alongside Desharnais and Pacioretty? Two goals in 20 games. Second straight game his ice time was under 10:00.
- Ben Scrivens and Mike Condon. Didn’t make a single save of note. Bad enough they were outplayed by a ready-to-be-beaten-again Chad Johnson (allowed seven goals last time the Habs were in Buffalo). But Scrivens-Condon were even outplayed by Peter Budaj. As bad as Scrivens was I’d go back to him in Arizona. Unless Marc Bergevin has other plans.
- Carey Price. La Press story suggests Habs know Price is unlikely to return this season but there’s been a “marketing aspect” to the news blackout while he continues to skate on his own. I can recall one talk show host who urged the Habs in early December to get an experienced NHL goaltender.
- P.K. Subban. Extremely disappointing. This game ached for Subban to take it over. But he seemed distracted from the get-go. His antics on the empty net goal by Evander Kane were downright embarrassing. He had a right to be angry at linesman Brad Kovachik for not getting out of the way but if Subban expected a whistle – as he explained post-game – then he clearly is not aware of a basic NHL rule. He’s played enough to know better.
- 3-12-1. Habs record on the road since December 5th. Six of their next 10 games are on the road.