Not much to say about this one. After a fairly quiet trade deadline day for the Canadiens, they played a similar ho-hum type of game against the Flyers. The Canadiens, as you already know, picked up Davis Drewiske for a 2013 5th round pick, shoring up some defensive depth with the absence of Raphael Diaz. He was largely a spare defenceman on the L.A Kings, but he fits some Canadiens needs: he’s a 28 year old pending UFA that’s 6’2 and 220 pounds. Beyond that, Marc Bergevin was quite happy to stay the course and see what he can do with the current roster, particularly once Raphael Diaz and Rene Bourque return. For the Flyers, they picked up Adam Hall on waivers and traded for….STEVE MASON. Clearly, the Philadelphia Flyers have a knack for picking up the worst goaltenders in the league, and I’m sure that Mason will find his game playing in the goalie graveyard that Philadelphia has become. A terrible move though they did get to get rid of Michael Leighton. Not sure how much longer Paul Holmgren will have a job. Plugging holes on a rapidly sinking ship I guess.
Speaking of sinking, I wasn’t really impressed with the effort level or execution in this game. There’s isn’t much positive to say about the process or the results tonight, and the Canadiens might have two huge injuries on their hands. The good news? This team has shown through the season that it can bounce back after bad efforts (the Leafs drubbing, several Islanders games). I think getting back onto the ice will work wonders for this squad, though tonight was pretty dismal. They can thank Ilya Bryzgalov for the fact that this game was even contested at all – would have probably been a huge win for the Flyers if it wasn’t for the completely shaky goaltending from Bryzgalov (sensing a theme here?) and Price’s play in nets. Going back to the injuries, Tomas Plekanec played only 7:41 over two periods and left the game with a lower-body injury – Therrien confirmed in his presser that he was day-to-day at this point. Similarly, Max Pacioretty sustained an ankle injury and is also day-to-day, though he was able to finish the game. Hopefully these are really “day-to-day” and not longer, for obvious reasons. Tomas Plekanec is probably the best all-around forward on the Canadiens, and Pacioretty is a key cog on offense.
The first period was the only one where the Canadiens bothered to show up. The Canadiens outshot the Flyers (for the only period in this game!) 11-8 and scored on Alexei Emelin‘s 3rd of the year, with helpers going to Max Pacioretty and David Desharnais. At the tail end of the first period, the Flyers seemed to get some life after P.K. Subban laid down a hit on Brayden Schenn, who was cruising over the blue line with his head own. In typical Flyers fashion, they objected to an otherwise clean hit (and one that Subban bore the brunt of anyway) and it seemed to give them some life heading into the second period.
In the second, the Flyers would tie the game on a Sean Couturier goal, assists going to Ruslan Fedotenko and Simon Gagne. They would go ahead 2-1 about 15 minutes into the period on a Simon Gagne‘s 3rd goal of the season from Olivier Lauridsen and Luke Schenn. Bryzgalov, in his typical way, handed the game back to the Canadiens with two quick goals (in exactly 20 seconds). The first was a nice play by Alex Galchenyuk to feed a streaking Jeff Halpern off a turnover in the Flyers zone and he fed Brandon Prust for his 5th of the season. Shortly after that, David Desharnais took what looked to be a fairly innocuous shot from the half boards and Bryzgalov’s inexplicable response was to put his arms over his head and duck. On a related note, Aaron Ward very aptly described it as a “praying mantis” in his criticism of Bryzgalov‘s reaction to what should have been a routine save. The Canadiens were outplayed and outworked in that period, to the tune of only taking 4 shots and giving up 12, but thanks to some shoddy Flyers goaltending found themselves ahead by 1 heading into the third, a good place to be recently for this Canadiens team that’s gotten pretty good at closing out games. Conversely, the Flyers had been 1-11 when trailing after two this season.
The third was more lackluster effort and the Canadiens seemed to lack execution. Again, they only managed 2 shots and the Flyers were able to finally break through for 3 goals on 14 shots in the third, from Wayne Simmonds, Erik Gustafsson and then Jakub Voracek into an empty net. This would seal a pretty deserving win by the Flyers, who seemed to have more jump in them than the Canadiens tonight. They outshot the Canadiens 34-17, continued their mastery of the Canadiens at home and won 3 in a row to climb to the 11th spot, 4 points back of 8th. Pittsburgh also lost and Boston was idle, so the Canadiens remained in the second spot 1 point ahead of the Bruins and 4 points back of Pittsburgh.
– None of the Canadiens deserved a star tonight. Terrible effort all around, but it’s bound to happen on some nights and thankfully Philadelphia isn’t a team that’s directly challenging them.
– Speaking of Philadelphia, I was impressed with their effort but I’m not sure how much of that was the Canadiens just sitting back and allowing them to dictate the play. They were sloppy in their end, choppy offensively and their goaltending was atrocious. Not sure how anyone from the coach to the GM still has their job there. And injuries? They’ve definitely been affected – but ask Ottawa about how to deal with those effectively.
– I thought Davis Drewiske played a solid and unremarkable game, which is a good sign for a defensive d-man. He had some good plays, cleared the zone and was pretty effective in only 15:31 of ice time. He finished a -1 on the evening.
– I think David Desharnais played an excellent game, finished with 1G – 1A, +1 in 19:24 of ice-time. I’m still concerned about center depth if Plekanec is out medium-long term but he played well tonight on the road. Lars Eller was somehow a -4 tonight in only 16 minutes of ice-time and lost all but one of the 7 face-offs he took. Not good tonight thought he displayed some nice moves in the Flyers zone on occasion.
The Canadiens play again tomorrow night at the Bell Centre against the Winnipeg Jets with Peter Budaj in nets. I’m looking forward to an excellent rebound game from them!