Rabid Habs

Postgame: Pathetic. Arizona Wins 5-4

Pathetic.

On a night where the worst team in the NHL comes into town, Montreal could afford a bit of a poor start. Just about a minute into the game, Karl Alzner took a delay of game penalty, and Montreal had to kill an early penalty. Another quick goal against could be a backbreaker for an already fragile team.

Montreal managed to kill off the first powerplay of the game, and they built momentum off of it.
Midway into the period, Charles Hudon transitioned the Canadiens into a two-on-one rush with great foot speed and agility. Hudon fed Brendan Gallagher, who put on a move in front of the net and beat Antti Raanta for the 1-0 lead. Then nearly four minutes later, a similar play developed. Jonathan Drouin forced a turnover at his own blueline and kept his man from getting to the loose puck. Instead, Alex Galchenyuk took over the rush and waited for the defenseman to bite before throwing a tape-to-tape saucer pass over the defenseman’s to Paul Byron. Byron’s one-timer trickled in past Raanta for the 2-0 lead. Gallagher gets his team leading eighth goal of the year, while Byron picks up his fifth of the year.

The second began with some fireworks, as recent call-up and LaSalle native Nicolas Deslauriers dropped the gloves with Zac Rinaldo. Pumping the crowd up, Deslauriers walked away with the decided victory. Unfortunately, the Coyotes seemed to take most of the momentum away from the fight, as Brad Richardson scored his first goal of the season to cut the Habs’ lead in half. His slap shot from the point beat Charlie Lindgren on the ice. I bet if you asked the goaltender about that one, he’d say he would want it back. 2-1 Habs with fifteen to go in the period.

If the fight energized the Coyotes, the goal only made them better. Shortly after getting on the board, the Coyotes drew a hooking penalty from Jacob De La Rose, and the Habs were forced back to the penalty kill. Then Shea Weber took the Habs’ second delay of game penalty of the game and put the Coyotes on the two man advantage. Arizona spent nearly the entire extended powerplay in the Habs’ zone before scoring just as the penalties expired. Alzner, preoccupied with Christian Fischer in front of the net, moved to the right of Lindgren as the shot came in. This small move left Christian Dvorak wide open for the rebound, and he beat Lindgren for his third goal of the year. The period wasn’t even half way through and the Coyotes had tied the game.

Getting out of hand, Montreal needed to start skating again, but first, they needed to stop the Coyotes’ attack. That’s where Lindgren comes in. After Lindgren stopped Coyotes’ rookie phenom Clayton Keller on a breakaway, the Habs went back the other way. Coming down the left wing, Tomas Plekanec got to the hash marks on the faceoff circle before dropping a pass back to Joe Morrow. Morrow leaned into the puck and one-timed it off the post and into the net. 3-2 Habs.

But the Coyotes answered in the final minute of the period. After two saves by Lindgren from just in front of the net, the puck bounced to Tobias Rieder. Rieder fired it immediately into the net, tying the game before the end of the period. Jonathan Drouin, Alex Galchenyuk and Paul Byron were out on the ice, and you could blame all three of them and the pairing of Alzner and Jeff Petry for this one. Just a disaster in front of Lindgren.

The tie wouldn’t last. On an icing call with 13 seconds left in the period, Plekanec won the draw immediately to Shea Weber, who did what he does best. One timer. Top shelf. 4-3 Habs.

And then a bunch of shenanigans broke out. I think Plekanec was… Fighting? Anyway, that second period was bananas.

The chaos at the end of the second period gave Montreal a powerplay to start the third, and therefore a chance to take control of the game. They failed horrifically, and Lindgren was forced to come up with at least one breakaway stop on Derek Stepan. Stepan got another breakaway on the same penalty kill, but it’s unclear whether or not Lindgren even needed to make a save.

Stepan eventually got his due on a powerplay goal. Fischer tried to put the puck through the slot, but Jordie Benn bounced it right to Stepan. His third of the year tied the game 4-4.

Then the Coyotes would take the lead on their second (basically their third) powerplay goal of the game (Arizona has the worst powerplay in the league). Fischer would get credit for the goal with assists from Keller and Brandon Perlini. The Coyotes took a 5-4 lead with under ten minutes to go in the game.

Montreal thought they scored on an Andrew Shaw net-mouth scramble, but it was reviewed and overturned. Definitely kicked in, Shaw’s goal wouldn’t count, and he would actually rush to the locker room with an apparent injury. He returned right after the goal was reversed.

A late Habs’ powerplay would be unsuccessful and the Coyotes would capture their first regulation win of the season.

That’s as embarrassing as losses come nowadays. Trap game? Maybe. Whatever you want to call it, don’t call it fun.

Karl Alzner

I hate to dump on the guy, but he’s been Montreal’s worst player for the last few weeks. Consistently a step behind the opposition, Alzner starts out with a disadvantage. His inability to move the puck quickly only exacerbates his issues. He’s the kind of defenseman the league is moving away from, and that’s obvious by his play. Every other defenseman on the team has moved in the right direction (some more than others). Alzner is moving backwards, and fast.

Charlie Lindgren

I will talk about Lindgren’s game, but first, let me talk about how we evaluate goaltending. It’s very easy (read: lazy) to grade a goalie by looking at the goals he gave up, but at some point the team in front of the goalie should be held accountable. Lindgren made a ton of tough saves against Arizona; a breakaway stop on Keller, two great saves before Rieder scored, and several on the penalty kill. To that you can add the shorthanded breakaway stop on Stepan. At some point, the players in front of Lindgren (or Price, Montoya or Niemi) need to pick up their goalie and straighten out things in their own end. Yeah, he gave up more goals than he has in a single game. He also bailed his team out way more than he should be expected too.

Tomas Plekanec and Company

Have a night, Pleky. Undoubtably his best effort of the year, Plekanec was a force against the Coyotes. I really like the look of his line. It has a bit of everything; a strong two way player in Plekanec, a Swiss army knife type guy in Brendan Gallagher, and a finesse player in Charles Hudon. With Byron fitting in nicely on the top line, I’d keep this unit together for the foreseeable future. Four points for that line against Arizona may kick start them going forward.

Drouin and Galchenyuk

I thought tonight was going to be a real chance for this duo to break out. They looked fine offensively, but they were probably the worst line in their own net. Maybe Claude Julien’s comments about their defensive play became a bit of a self-fulfilling prophecy, but they need to be better.

On a night where the Canadiens could have jumped right back into the playoff race, they fell flat on their collective face against the worst team in the league. Every fan has the right to question what they just saw.

Talk soon.

Go Habs Go.

Follow Ian on Twitter @BoisvertIan, and follow @RabidHabs for more updates! 

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