The love of my life and formidable ally, Laura Ryan, said it best in summing up this evening`s pathetic and discouraging loss by the Habs at the hands of the New Jersey Devils: “You would think that an opportunity to get within 4 points of the 8th and final playoff position would be enough motivation for the Montreal Canadiens to show up tonight.“ She is gorgeous, a great cook, and as usual, absolutely correct. As my readers will know, i will accept a loss any day of the week when the game was hard-fought, but i am quick to turn on the team when it provides me with no reason whatsoever to watch the game.
I am also quite agitated as far as the predictability of this team is concerned. I suppose that not even the most optimistic fan genuinely believed that Montreal had the slightest chance of emerging victorious against the Devils. I don`t get it. Something has to change. There is nothing logical to explain the domination that the Devils franchise continues to enjoy over your Montreal Canadiens. I am certain that my corresponding bitterness is coming through loud and clear and while i am considering making an apology for this i have not decided that i am obligated to so just yet…
Four (4) shots on goal in the first period by the home team?! Four?????!!!!! Unacceptable. Inexcusable. I am blogging soooooooooo angry at this time…. maybe i should stop…They did not even get a bloody shot off when Volchenkov was cast away for hooking early on the first. Perhaps that is not entirely surprising given that the Devils do have the 2nd ranked PK in the NHL. I suspect that fans of other teams feel the same way when their team ’ s powerplay efforts get thwarted by Montreal ’ s vaunted PK.
Roughly 18 minutes went by between the 3rd and the 4th shots that were directed at Martin Brodeur in the first. Imagine how those who shelled out some dollars to see the game in person must have felt during a good part of that stretch. Well, at least the tribute to the last Gary Carter was inspiring. RIP, Mr. Carter, and accept our thanks for the memories. The only real highlight of the opening frame was the goal scored by Zach Parise with just under 2 minutes remaining. Carey Price had very little chance on this brilliant deflection on a shot from the point. The original shot was fired by red-hot Ilya Kovalchuck. He had 17 points in the 9 games that he participated in since the All-Star Break. Not bad. Not bad at all. It should be noted that NJ managed 12 SOG in the first 20 minutes of the contest. This represents 3 times the output from the Habs.
The lack of intensity was not cured during the first intermission. By the time that the game was 30 minutes old (the halfway mark in the contest), Le Bleu-Blamc-Rouge had only mustered 6 shots at Brodeur (this stat courtesy of a tweet by Arpon Basu). They were on pace at that point in the match for a grand total of 12 SOG!!!! Are they kidding us?! More accurately: are they mocking us? Marc Denis of RDS joked that Brodeur could play until he is 45 years of age if he faced such little action game in and game out.
The 2nd was not quite as boring as the 1st but it would not rank on any list compiling exciting periods in the history of the NHL. Another demoralizing, end-of period goal by the Devils was scored by David Clarkson as the middle frame was drawing to a close. Again, a deflection off of a point shot, this time by Patrick Elias. I should, begrudggly, acknowledge that Le Tricolore did eventually register 9 SOG in the 2nd. This does represent a significant improvement over their performance in the first and Brodeur was forced to make a couple of nice saves. Not enough, though…far from it. Insufficient desperation was manifest by a team that claims to have not given up.
Of course it was comforting that the home team would enter the final period trailing by 2. Better that, than to go in with a phobia of losing the lead. As mentioned previously, your Canadiens are predictable. They managed to create and sustain some good powerplay pressure to open the final frame and were rewarded with a goal by Max Pacioretty who tapped in a Kaberle rebound. It was Max-Pac ’ s 25th of the campaign. You gotta love this guy!!! That was, however, all of the offence that Montreal would manage. Their shot total on the game was 22. Certainly it ended better than it started and one must be curious as to why the team could not, as on so many nights, compete for the full 60 minutes…especially with so much at stake…and on home-ice no less!!
The Devils would add a third goal with 8:27 elapsed in the third. Again, a shot from the point created the damage. I do not believe that there was a deflection involved but certainly a screen in front of Carey Price did not help him as he tried to track the one-timer off the stick of Matt Taormina, 3-1 Devils.
Too bad. Yup, too bad but certainly not heartbreaking given that the home team did not deserve to win. Certainly, some credit must be given to the Devils who regularly play a very sound defensive game. Tonight was no exception. And, while the visitors blocked 33 shots (Nos Glorieux blocked only 15…where is Hal Gill when you need him, eh?), this accounts only in part for tonight ’ s defeat at the hands of Brodeur and Co. For the remainder of the explanation, look no further than the fact that the Montreal Canadiens failed to show up in the first period. Guy Carbonneau, during a post game show, insisted that fatigue would not be an acceptable answer for this time of the year. Pressure? Maybe so, but they had better learn to deal with that pretty quickly as the team is running out of games.
Next up: Dallas comes to town on Thursday to square – off against our 13th placed Canadiens…