Rabid Habs

Speed Racers Vs the Ghost Riders

Edmonton Oilers

“He probably wants to beat me as much as I want to beat him.” – Alex Galchenyuk on facing Nail Yakupov

It was a battle between “Let’s Go Oilers!” and “Go Habs Go!” chants last night at the Rexall Place. The last time the Montreal Canadiens had faced the Oilers was on October 22nd of last year at the Bell Centre, where the Habs had lost 4-3, but this time the Oilers faced a different team; they faced a stronger, more powerful team who we’ve seen great success from this season so far. But could the Canadiens keep a hold of their power and pull off a fifth straight win? Sadly, the Habs gave that opportunity up for the Oilers to achieve a four game winning streak.

The first period saw 4 penalties against Montreal; the first penalty went to Andrei Markov one minute and 20 seconds into the game for hooking Mark Arcobello. The second penalty went to Brandon Prust three minutes and 21 seconds into the game for interference on goalkeeper, Ben Scrivens. The third penalty went to David Desharnais ten minutes and 31 seconds into the game and only a few seconds after the start of Montreal’s power play for high sticking against Andrew Ference; nine minutes later, the Oilers got their first goal by Benoit Pouliot. And the final penalty went to P.K. Subban, twenty minutes into the game for tripping Taylor Hall. I’m not a huge fan of referees. I always find that there are two kinds of refs in the NHL: the refs that make reasonable calls against both teams and the refs that decide they only like one team for the entire night. It’s also sad to see that Montreal always gets goalie interference calls as often as they do. Fantastic puck distribution and movement that led the Habs to no goal and a lot of pissed off Canadiens fans (“Brendan Gallagher was clearly pushed!”).

While the score quickly became 2-0 for the Oilers, my eyes were constantly focused on Alex Galchenyuk’s stick handling and moves. He at least gave us some hope for a Habs come back during the second period. The Canadiens started to seem disorganized and more of singles instead of a whole team, but you have to give them credit though. For a team that played at an incredible speed for a whole three periods, the Oilers were hard to keep up with and that in itself was unexpected for the Habs. However, I felt the Canadiens became a bit too slow on Nail Yakupov’s goal. It wasn’t the best goal, but he had the right position at the right time, which made me question why a team whose strength is speed made themselves look amateurish. You’re better than that, boys. Montreal continued to fight off the Oilers and apply the pressure during the third period, but the Oilers got their best opportunity when Dustin Tokarski was pulled from the net. With three minutes left in the game Taylor Hall scored, leaving the Canadiens blank and with their second loss of the season.

Here are my thoughts about last night’s game:

  • I understand why Michel Therrien thought it would be a good idea to keep Dustin Tokarski in the net for all three periods. The Edmonton Oilers have never been the team’s biggest threat, and like Therrien said, “It’s a new role for him. He has to adjust to it. If we don’t give him a chance, we won’t know if he’s capable of doing it.” Stopping 16 out of 18 shots isn’t bad for a guy new to the NHL.
  • David Desharnais always seems to go the extra mile, which wouldn’t be so bad if the extra mile didn’t cost the team a penalty every time. Desharnais isn’t a stranger to penalties, and only ten seconds into the power play? What was this guy thinking? I understand wanting to make a slapshot, but you are not P.K. Subban. If anything, a pass or a wrist shot could have worked out to bring Montreal up to at least one goal throughout the whole game.
  • While Tom Gilbert is very mobile, moves the puck quickly out of the defense zone, is good on the pinch, and knows his way around the offensive zone, there are just too many giveaways. He needs to work on his stick handling and practice his passes.

While tonight’s game surprised and disappointed many Habs fans, the fact of the matter is that it’s only the end of October. Every team is going to have their off game, but the Montreal Canadiens have plenty of time to gain victory and slide into the Eastern Conference finals with ease. Now, onto the next game!

Follow Jessica-Lyn on Twitter: @strucxtures