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.

THE GOOD

  • 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.

THE BAD

  • 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.

THE UGLY

  • 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.

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6 Responses

  1. Raw man

    2 only bright moments of the game:

    – Nesterov’s goal
    – Radulov’s rejection to be flattened out on the ice

  2. dra58

    What is going on with our penalty kill? Do the coaches not watch game film or at least watch what JMartin has done for the Pens PK. We have some of the same players we had on the PK from his day still hear and now it seems they have either forgotten how to play or been told to do something different. If it’s the later then someone needs to go because Captain Kirk can’t resurrect the PK like he has with the powerplay but someone needs to soon as playoff time is not far away and we look like a high school team on the PK not an NHL team. Also what is with not showing up AGAIN for a game… these guys get paid very well to play a game and I understand people have bad nights but does the whole team have to have them on the same night and so often this season. I can only guess what the fans will be saying if we play this way this weekend and get only a point or two. Someone will be calling for their heads or try to hang them on a cross. Relax people there is plenty of time to get the kinks out of the offense but only so much much time to fix the defense and from a coach who prides himself on a defensive system first we are looking bad. Can someone say bye bye JJ soon and find a good defensive coach please.

  3. sled ed

    Just FYI, The Habs won in Philly in October 2014 in a shootout.

    • mitch melnick

      11 straight without a win in regulation time. Thanks.

  4. habinvancouver

    I think the uproar about Shaw being the ambassador for the You Can Play initiative has some merit. As I understand from what I have read about the initiative, the ambassador is the go to person for a LGBTQ teammate to go to if they want someone to talk to.

    As a LGBTQ person, I would be somewhat leary of approaching Shaw if I had a LGBTQ issue to discuss. It was only last spring that he made his comments that got him suspended. Yes people can change. However the comments are still fresh in some people’s minds and I would wonder if he has made a complete 180 in his thinking in such a short time.

    I do commend him for stepping up, taking responsibility and taking on this new role.

  5. Ian London

    look at the Elite teams of the league, Washington, Pittsburgh, Columbus (atleast for now), Minnesota – with very few exceptions they show up every game and play full games. Habs my very well win the Atlantic (altho with three games in hand and owning the tie breaker don’t count Ottawa out to win the division) but they are in the second tier of good but not great teams (including Ottawa, Chicago, NYR, Anaheim, San Jose and even Edmonton) and these teams take nights off and lose, they sit back and don’t play the full 60 and sometimes win, sometimes lose.

    It’s time for the players to decide which group they want to be in. The Elite look like cup contenders. The 2nd tier team look like one or two playoff rounds at best.

    in a game like the Philly game, we needed 6 players to step up and we win because Philly isn’t a great team. And despite as bad as we played, we were one break/goal from tying it. But we didn’t step up to score that goal.

    This win-loss alternating scenario has to stop. We need a winning streak desperately. Take atleast 3 points this wkend (not likely) and we’re looking good with two must win road games next week. come out with one or possibly no points this weekend and look for a possible tank and we lose top spot to Ottawa.

    and that once again comes back to the coach. Line shuffling doesn’t usually work. it’s desperation time. MT needs to motivate (hard to do when you have zero emotion). He needs to know when to call a timeout – no rule says you need to keep it for the last 5 minutes of the third period. Anything less than making the conference final is not acceptable this year. therefore fail to do that and find a new coach. I’d like to see Guy C or Patrick (with maybe a little less emotion) lead these guys. They can relate to the players far better than MT and they’re obviously fluent in French. Obviously Cpt Kirk relates better than MT. Is he our next head coach? Only if he speaks French fluently. and again that’s a decision that eliminates us from getting the best coach available. I love the fact we’re a bilingual/bicultural country. I left Montreal in my 20’s but I love what Montreal is and the history that is La belle Province. And our history as the Flying Frenchmen is well known but the times have changed. American teams have taken over. Time to stop the bleeding.