Tuesday, 8 November 2011

Game 14: Montreal 1, Edmonton 3

The Canadiens let another one go tonight, allowing the Oilers to slip out of town with a 3-1 win. This is worrisome to those who saw the Canadiens as a high seed in the Eastern Conference. We can gradually see as the season progresses that the Canadiens will be in a battle to make the playoffs.

We could point to various reasons to explain the loss, but we are running out of excuses. The team we iced is essentially our team. We can point to some players missing due to injuries, but nowadays we have to expect these, at no point in the season will we or probably any other team ice a fully healthy and complete lineup. The refereeing was not a factor. We didn't get sand kicked in our face by a bunch of meanies. The win wasn't stolen by a red-hot goalie, not with 4 shots at their net in the first period and 29 total. We can't blame our own goalie, not when the only goals he lets in are on a short-handed breakaway, and another which bounces in off his own defenceman.

It was the first game back in the lineup for Alexei Emelin after spending a few in the pressbox, and he acquitted himself relatively well, and shined on a hip check early in the first period. He was lowlighted on l'Antichambre for being behind the net instead of in front of it on a sequence which allowed a scoring chance by the Oilers, but he wasn't the reason for the loss. He needs to play, and he will get better, but only if he plays.

PK Subban kept things under control all game, except when he was creamed into the boards by Theo Peckham and spent a couple of seconds looking at the ref with the WTF posture instead of getting back in the game. He didn't make any mistakes or take any big risks at the wrong time.

Raphaƫl Diaz once again committed a big showy blunder, which led to a breakaway by Ryan Smyth, the second of the game by the Oilers shorthanded. If he makes many more of those, he'll punch his ticket to Hamilton, once Andrei Markov and Chris Campoli come off the injured reserve.

Mike Cammalleri and Erik Cole seemed to be the best of our forwards, outskating the Oilers all night and being dangerous with puck. Earlier on in the game, they seemed to form a mutual admiration society, each trying to find the other with delicate passes, and I was yelling at my best friend Plasma that they should shoot instead of insisting that the other should take the puck. They did start to fire the puck at the net more as the game wore on, but they hit posts or Mr. Khabibulin's pads, instead of the back of the net. We need these guys to score with regularity if we are to win with regularity.

The powerplay was abysmal again, and it's time to revisit whether Tomas Plekanec is the solution at the point. It doesn't seem to be working, and tonight Tomas was the reason for the turnover which led to the Oilers' first and winning goal. I would advocate we use our defencemen for that role, once again giving the rookies the icetime and the experience. They have shown creativity with the puck, and probably can't do any worse than the current crew. The powerplay needs to be lethal for us to win, and to keep the meanies away.

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