Rabid Habs

Postgame: Habs Tie Rangers, Still Lose

Well just about all of that seemed unfair. Montreal’s only journey into Madison Square Garden this year ended with a 2-0 Rangers victory.

Montreal flew out of the gates with instant pressure by all four lines. The Rangers weren’t able to create a whole lot of anything, and Montreal just wanted it more. A point shot would find its way to Henrik Lundqvist before being poked away by Andrew Shaw. With his stick tied up, Shaw would square himself up with the puck as it sat next to the goal post. Shaw undoubtedly kicked the puck back towards Lundqvist, who’s glove pushed the puck into the net. After a review, the NHL determined that the goal would not stand. Makes enough sense.

The Habs, undeterred by the letdown, got right back to work. With Pacioretty battling with Ryan McDonagh in front of the net, Shea Weber released an absolute bomb from the point that hit Lundqvist in the chest, hit McDonagh in the leg, and found its way behind Lundqvist and into the goal. Called a goal on the ice, the Rangers would successfully challenge the goal on the basis of goaltender interference. This was a bad call, and I’ll talk about that later.

In case things weren’t going bad enough for Montreal. The Rangers would capitalize on one of their few chances in the first, as Brady Skjei would centre the puck off of Weber’s leg and into the net. Montreal would head to the intermission down by a goal, despite the first period looking like this:

Even though they left the first down by a goal, things looked like they would be okay.

Nothing of any consequence happened in the second, so we move to the third with the Habs down a goal. The Rangers would add another goal in the third to take the game 2-0. Mika Zibanejad with his fourth of the year put the dagger in the Canadiens.

Carey Price looked great in a 23 save effort, but Montreal couldn’t score (legally, apparently).

Okay, I’ve got a lot on my chest.

Video Reviews

First, the Shaw goal. The kicking rule:

If the Video Goal Judge / NHL Situation Room determines that it was put into the net by an attacking player using a distinct kicking motion, it must be ruled NO GOAL.

That’s all well and good. I still think Lundqvist pushed this into his own net. The league makes a distinction for deflecting the puck with you foot and kicking it when you’re an attacking player, but no such provision seems to apply to defending teams. I guess Lundqvist pushing the puck into the net is just a forceful deflection. Okay then. The next one.

The NHL has a problem with offense, yet goals like this are still disallowed.

Max Pacioretty makes his way to the slot and tries to stop about two feet outside the crease. McDonagh pushes him into the crease, and Lundqvist flops like a there was bee chasing him. And not for nothing, but the puck was already behind Lundqvist before Pacioretty even touched him.

I really wish I had more to say about this, but I don’t. The NHL needs to make it clear that defensemen can’t push attackers into their goalie to avoid goals against. They have failed to do that for years, and goals like this continue to be coin flips. Video review is supposed to make things more conclusive, and with conclusiveness being the goal, it would be impossible to say reviews have been successful.

And this wasn’t the only time the NHL based arbiters made a mess of this game.

Penalties: Shades of Spring

In the third period alone, the Rangers got away with their fair share of penalties. In fact, Pacioretty and Shaw both took Rangers sticks in the mouth in the third, both bled, and both went uncalled. Shaw’s injury looked eerily similar to the cross check given to him last playoffs by Brendan Smith. Outside of stick infractions, Paul Byron was boarded by McDonagh at the end of his breakaway. The play was already over, and the Rangers captain gave Byron a lazy shove that put the speedy winger into the wall. The shove did nothing but put Byron in some discomfort, and warranted an interference penalty at the very least. Montreal spent most of the game with the puck, but drew only one penalty all night.

But none of this should be new. It feels all too normal for these two teams…

New York State of Mind

As a Connecticut native, I have to deal with Rangers fans on a regular basis. That makes games like this increasingly frustrating; a game Montreal basically had won in the first few minutes; a game Montreal has taken away from them by horrific officiating. The sad part is that this is all too normal. Think about it; when was the last time Montreal played a game against the Rangers that didn’t have some controversy go against Montreal?

Whether it’s missed calls, Price getting pulled into the pie-slice in the corner of the rink by a Ranger, Dale Weise being robbed of a goal that was certainly in the net, or Chris Kreider intentionally taking out Price in the conference final. Hell, maybe the Rangers are just better than Montreal. But we’ll never know, because every one of the games between these teams has a moment that flips the outcome of the game, and the officials always have their fingerprints all over it. Not one contest against the Rangers ends without me thinking “I don’t know if either team decided to win this game.” No, I’m not indicating some sort of conspiracy against Montreal. It just seems like marquee matchups like this are officiated differently. It just so happens that Montreal comes out on the wrong side of things.

Okay, done griping about the Rangers. Let’s talk about the Canadiens.

Offensive Struggles (Again)

This is the easiest section to write. Habs fans like me have been writing it for years. This team has had a terrible time scoring goals, but this year is different. As I mentioned last night after the loss to the Caps, Montreal usually scores a lot this time of year, only to cool off considerably heading into the meat of the season. I pointed out that Montreal might benefit from a dry spell early on.

That might still be true, but to say they aren’t engaged in the offensive zone would be incorrect. Sunday night showed me that Montreal is just missing in the offensive zone. I really do think it’s just a matter of time until the Habs figure it out. It doesn’t help when you face two elite goalies in your first three games (sorry, Robin Lehner). They’ll figure it out, but it may take some maneuvering. Julien moved Galchenyuk to the top line in the third period, and there might be a chance that sticks moving forward. More changes may be coming, and just about anything will be welcomed.

Defense Getting Better

It wasn’t a perfect night from the defense, but only allowing 25 shots should be a victory for them. Benn was much better tonight, and the only truly weak link was Jeff Petry, who just seemed to be on the wrong side of the puck all night. He’s struggled to start the season, and Montreal will need him to figure it out sooner rather than later. Victor Mete and Shea Weber are still a formidable top pairing, and Brandon Davidson was a much more reliable option than Mark Streit.

As fans, we tend to analyze hockey with offense and defense remaining separate. While the two have a lot to do with each other, tonight seemed different. The defense held up their end of the bargain. The offense tried, but had no luck.

But the whole picture needs time to come together. There are too many new pieces to expect this to be perfect in October. Sunday, the Habs probably deserved a better fate.

In the future, I think they’ll get it.

See you Tuesday night after the Habs home opener.

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One Comment

  1. Bay_Bye

    October 9, 2017 at 1:37 pm

    the sad thing is where is the great offensive machine we are suppose to have..Why is Mete our best dman….Weber looks awful slow …streit,Benn and Azner are a disaster….Schlemko will not help as he is at best 3-4 dman…going to be a long year…

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