Hmm. How to describe a no-show just one game out of the All Star break?
Not sure what happened to the Habs in Philadelphia other than they just didn’t feel like pushing back.
The Flyers are in desperation mode to get into the playoffs. They were trounced while sleepwalking in Carolina on Tuesday. They’re always tough at home. And in Montreal’s 10 previous visits to the city, they failed to win a single game.
So wtf were the Habs expecting – the Flyers to just roll over once they grabbed an early lead?
Do they think they’re so good, especially back at (nearly) full strength, that they can summon up tic-tac-toe passing plays a la Tuesday at home against Buffalo on demand?
Maybe it’s just a one-off. And they’ll make amends this weekend. But in the meantime they have a day to ponder perhaps their most disturbing loss of the season. And an ornery head coach who had to dip into flashback mode.
- Nikita Nesterov. That was a shot we never saw from Mark Barberio – and one we never see from Nathan Beaulieu. Sold.
- Andrei Markov. He was solid again. If Therrien and J.J. Daigneault can resist the obvious temptation to over use him we might actually get to see Markov at his best at playoff time.
- Jacob de la Rose. I liked his game. Had a chance to give Montreal a two goal lead when he broke down the left side and fired a strong shot that handcuffed Michael Neuvirth. De la Rose didn’t stop moving. He picked up the loose puck behind the net and centred it to – nobody (was there). He was one of the few Habs to use his body and he blocked a shot while killing a penalty.
- Artturi Lehkonen. I liked his game too. Didn’t create any offense but was willing to compete.
- Alex Galchenyuk. Welcome return to the line up. Took him less than five minutes to get back on the scoresheet by feeding Nesterov for the one-timer. And with about three minutes left to play he forced a turnover at the Philadelphia blue line and sent the puck to the net, only to watch his older line mates foiled by Neuvirth. The Habs desperately need a healthy Galchenyuk to find his rhythm.
- Carey Price. Was in all but perfect position to make saves. Screened by Wayne Simmonds on the Giroux wrist shot, Price had the puck hit his glove but couldn’t catch what he couldn’t see. And the Matt Read game winner was much like the Zach Bogosian game winner in overtime 12 days ago at the Bell Centre. Read had the time to tee up and blast a rolling puck blocker (cough) side right under the crossbar.
- Phillip Danault-Alexander Radulov-Max Pacioretty. With apologies to Pierre Mcguire that was just stinky. Enough with the Danault-locked-in-as-number-one-centre talk. He was invisible. A bad night. Even missed a perfect set up in the slot where he was alone, which would have tied the game late in the third period. No matter where the Flyers are in the standings or what kind of night it is, it’s always a test for an opposing player to go into Philadelphia. The Habs #1 trio (with Galchenyuk replacing Danault to start the third period) failed miserably.
- Shea Weber. The kind of night that screamed out for somebody to make a statement. Again, it’s not an easy rink to play in (I don’t recall P.K. Subban ever enjoying himself in Philly) and there are plenty of nights where a solid, controlled game by Weber is all Montreal needs. But in this one – they needed more. Also victimized on the game winning goal with an unusually passive move at the Flyers blue line, followed by a weak stick check attempt along the boards.
- Jeff Petry. Overall he played a good game. He was even uncharacteristically physical. But not when he needed to be, failing to move Simmonds away from Price on the Giroux power play goal. Plenty of NHL defensemen have that issue. It’s where Weber should have been but he had just completed a shift.
- David Desharnais. Not a left winger. Although it was his pass to Danault that could have tied the game. The pass came from in front of the net. Not the wing.
- Tomas Plekanec. Lost another key face off in his own zone which led to the Giroux goal. It’s happening too often. The Habs simply don’t have an experienced guy they can count on to win a lot of the more important draws that take place during the course of a game.
- Power Play. Turning point. Already ahead 1-0 on the early Nesterov goal, the Habs had an opportunity – their only one of the night – to put a stranglehold on the game when Chris Vandevelde took a slashing penalty six and half minutes in. The power play went nowhere. They managed one shot on goal and gave the Flyers a chance to come back. From that point on, Philadelphia forced the issue, finishing every check (led by Radko Gudas) which seemed to rattle the Montreal forwards. And there was no response by anybody on the Habs. There was simply, as Michel Therrien put it after the game, no compete factor for Montreal. Inexcusable. But it started on the power play.
- Andrew Shaw. Dumb penalty. Undisciplined player. Cost the Habs the game (really?). I completely get the benching. (I would have thrown him on the ice late in the game while the Habs still trailed by one.) But for the umpteenth time already – this is what you get from a player like Andrew Shaw who is always straddling the line – a line that becomes thinner and thinner with each goalie interference call, or hook or slash behind the play. At the end of the season there is a simple question to ask – Does he bring more to the team than the moments where he hurts them? Shaw is a gamer. The bigger the game, especially in the spring, the better he seems to play. His teammates love him. Right now, his coach hates him. It’ll pass. Here’s a more direct way to put it: Andrew Shaw – take him or leave him? Even uglier was the reaction to the news that Shaw had been named the Habs ambassador to the NHL’s “You Can Play” LGBTQ initiative. As if a human being is incapable of maturing. By the measure of hatred spewed at Shaw after his appointment you’d think he had called for the elimination of homosexuals, instead of yelling an anti-gay slur during a game, for which he apologized. Do drug addicts resist treatment centres which feature former addicts as counsellors? If members of the LGBTQ community are striving for inclusivity they ought to learn the meaning of the word forgiveness.