Rabid Habs

Rainfall Over Phoenix

Habs' Alex Galchenyuk

“Go ahead, work hard and never be afraid to try something. Even if you don’t make it, at least you can say you tried.” – Guy Lafleur

For a team sitting at 28th in the league, the Arizona Coyotes would be considered a ‘low blow’ team with no chance against any high ranked team and an easy target to attack on the ice and considering the last time they met at the Bell Centre the Habs had a three to one win over the Coyotes with Max Pacioretty finding the back of the net twice while also assisting the final goal from Andrei Markov, it didn’t seem that the Canadiens would have much to worry about when it came to getting their sixth win in a row. However, the last two times the Coyotes and Habs met in Phoenix the Habs fell five to two in the desert. Arizona has struggled this year, especially when it comes to being a defensively-sound team but they would be fighting the good fight and trying to put their own Saturday afternoon’s seven to two loss against the Ottawa Senators behind them during Sunday’s matinee match. Montreal on the other hand would need to start becoming more physical and ‘in the game’ with goaltender Carey Price out and backup Dustin Tokarski in the net. This game would be the perfect test for the Canadiens to see if they could push forward with their skills without their savoir in pads at the net.

With just one minutes and 15 seconds into the first period, Alex Galchenyuk gave the Habs their first goal of the game which was assisted by Brendan Gallagher which also led to Galchenyuk scoring slipping another puck past Louis Domingue (assisted by David Desharnais and Jiri Sekac) right after a beautiful power play played by the Canadiens. The Canadiens were setting the pressure high while the Coyotes still struggled to keep the pucks deep in the Montreal zone and put pressure on the forecheck. However, the Habs were able to keep the Coyotes away and took the two to nothing lead to the end of the period.

With two minutes and 17 seconds left, the Coyotes finally got their first goal of the game thanks to Lauri Korpikosi (assisted by Martin Erat and Keith Yandle) and took the one to two score to the end of the second period. Despite effort from both sides of the ice, the Coyotes were ahead with 14 shots while Habs were with 5. The Canadiens also seemed to struggle keeping the puck away from Arizona, a struggle they had not developed in the first period.

The third period didn’t start on a happy note, as Oliver Ekman-Larsson scored 32 seconds into the second period, bringing the game to a tie. If that wasn’t making the Habs’ faces turn red, Lauri Korpikosi (assisted by Sam Gagner and Keith Yandle) were able to slip another one past Dustin Tokarski, with Arizona now taking the lead. The Canadiens were speeding up and fighting back to bring the game back to a tie and get their lead back. However, the Arizona Coyotes fought off the Canadiens and took their three to two lead to the end of the game.

Here are my thoughts on today’s game.

  • Whenever Dustin Tokarski is in net against a team that the Canadiens have struggled with either away from or at home, every automatically tweets or says “*insert name team here* is going to win.” Why only assume the Habs will lose? Tokarski is a great goaltender for someone who hasn’t played in the NHL for that long. He holds a 5-3-1 record and 0.917 save percentage following nine starts. That’s not even worth saying ‘god awful’. Also, the perks of having Tokarski in net is the fact that the Habs actually have to work to win. They can’t rely on Carey Price to save the day and that’s a good thing, because if the Canadiens want to play in the playoffs and win the playoffs then they’ll have to be their own saviours instead of relying on one man to help them win. Be happy Dustin was sitting in net today against the Coyotes. They didn’t win, but at least they tried to.
  • The energy and power the Montreal Canadiens had in the first period of the game was beyond incredible. Their puck control and team work was something that was extremely rare to see (once again, thank you Tokarski) and they ruled over the Arizona Coyotes. However, during the second period they had seemed to come to a slump despite their ‘best’ efforts. I don’t know whether they lose confidence or what but the Habs need to figure out a way to get out of that slow state they usually develop around the second period. It’s just awful to watch.
  • I should clarify something for the people who read my so called ‘headlines’ for this article on Twitter – I’m not easy to please. Could the Habs have played better than they did? Of course they could have. Did they struggle offensively and defensively on the ice? Yup, indeed they did. However, as a fan I will still be proud of the Canadiens regardless of their losses. I’ll say they played well when they probably didn’t, because I’m one of those fans who’s still cheery after the hope is lost. You should be too.

The Montreal Canadiens play the Buffalo Sabres at the Bell Centre on Tuesday at 7:30pm.

(Purchase your Canadiens tickets here. | Achetez vos billets des Canadiens ici.)

Follow Jessica-Lyn on Twitter: @strucxtures.