It was my contention this summer that the Canadiens don't have a Stanley Cup-worthy lineup yet, that this year should be devoted to developing our young players instead of spending assets to cobble together a playoff roster. Tonight's game is a textbook example: the Canadiens get outplayed by a Penguins team missing Sidney Crosby, Evgeni Malkin and Kris Letang.
Scott Gomez being hurt once again prevented any forward line stability or continuity. I wonder how much of Erik Cole's struggles can be attributed to this. I also wonder if the Canadiens will play better with David Desharnais and Lars Eller having more icetime at centre. In any case, it was time for the Whistler Marmots, who are tearing up the HIO Memorial Fantasy League right now, to drop Mr. Gomez from their lineup, and they did. Five games with only one assist was enough of a trial period for him. The Hail Mary fell incomplete out of bounds.
I noticed Alexei Yemelin get flattened by the Reverend Lovejoy. I imagine he's still being surprised by the strength and speed of NHL'ers. He may not have expected a defenceman to step up in the neutral zone and lay a hit on him. We were dreaming of him being a tank on our blueline this summer, it may yet happen with more exposure to our game and more confidence, but we'll need to be patient with him.
The powerplay was anemic, but what was unforgiveable was how it played without passion or determination. The Canadiens seemed lifeless during the game, and during the man advantage seemed to be wondering how in the heck they would ever score, instead of passing and shooting the puck with authority and playing like it was just a matter of time. Again I wonder if Mathieu Darche should be on the powerplay when Erik Cole is on the bench. We need to get that guy going, he has a lethal shot and is a better option than Mr. Darche.
Andreas Engqvist took a punch to the mouth on the play in which Brian Gionta crashed into Marc-André Fleury. He was standing near the crease and a Penguin popped him good, his intentions I imagine being partly to create space after the whistle, as is unfortunately too often seen in the NHL, with rarely a penalty called. I suspect there was also a desire for retribution after Mr. Fleury was run over. In any case, neither Mr. Engqvist or a teammate stood up to this affront, he meekly skated to the bench and got his bloody nose fixed. Word is rapidly spreading that the Canadiens are an easy target, with no consequence for transgressors.