Tuesday, 4 November 2014

Game 13: Canadiens 0, Blackhawks 5

Remember last season when Marc Bergevin went into the dressing room after the horrible game against the Capitals, and told every player they had to be there to answer questions from the journalists, that there would be no hiding from the cameras in the physio room?  I guess tonight they will receive the same treatment, because it was the same kind of effort, a lackadaisical, uncoordinated 5-0 loss against the Blackhawks.

Before the game, Vincent Damphousse returned to the subject of Alex Galchenyuk at centre versus on left wing.  He again used himself as an example, seeing how he was a high-scoring centre in junior but started his pro career as a winger, and did quite well there.  He explained that as a twenty-year-old, Alex could focus on developing his game without worrying about defensive responsibilities, a Tomas Plekanec could handle that aspect.  He mentioned how Alex was explosive as a winger so far this season, and even lead the team in hits, but when asked to play centre against the Flames played his worst game of the season.

Mario Tremblay chimed in to support Vincent's analysis, saying that when the team put Alex at centre and Lars Eller at left wing, it was weakening itself at both positions.

During the four-on-four in the first, Lars earned kudos from Pierre Houde for his work in front of Corey Crawford's net.  Mr. Houde asked whether this would be a constant for the Canadiens going forward, that it was a sorely lacking component on this team, and that Lars has "le physique de l'emploi", the size for it.

Second period sees some back and forth, lots of icings.  On one sequence, Nathan Beaulieu tries an overly ambitious pass out of his zone, when he had two very easy options I could see right on the screen.  As a result, Mike Weaver has to make a great play to thwart a 2-on-1.  Maybe Nathan is feeling the pressure, thinking he has to rack up points, instead of just playing safe, dependable hockey.

René Bourque streaking into the opposition zone, but putting on the brakes and trying a centering pass instead of driving to the net with that big body and skating ability of his, kind of created that situation that almost trapped Nate.  His centering pass didn't connect, and the Hawks went the other way on a zone break with it.  Later, René was unlucky, returning deep into his zone to support the 'D', and partially blocking the pass from the corner by Kris Versteeg, but it still bounced up so that Krueger could bat it into the net.

Another isolated moment that goes unnoticed, David Desharnais winning a puck battle against Ben Smith in the corner.  He used his stick a couple of times but soft-pedaled it and avoided the hooking penalty.  Instead, he gained positional advantage and squatted down low and dug the puck out.

P.K. Subban pushing/tripping a Blackhawk in front of his net, while Chicago is globetrottering in our zone, then taking a look at the refs to see if he's earned a minor.  During the whistle, we see him talking to a ref, who tells him to pipe down and get back to the faceoff circle, in clear terms.  Not a lot of love for P.K. from this ref, and seemingly most others.  P.K., stop arguing, campaigning, lobbying, stop looking for a ref's decision during play.  Play the game, play hard, and stop looking so damn guilty.  And hush.  Let your play do the talking.

I'll say this for P.K., he delivered a hard shoulder check that stopped a Blackhawk in his tracks.  It was a nice change from one of his bee-sting butt checks that often miss and leave the opponent free and clear.

But then again...

On Chicago's third goal earlyish in the third, P.K. was kind of aimless on the play, hanging in the corner behind the goal line, and left Brad Richards unattended, unfettered in front of Carey Price, from where he deflected Patrick Sharp's shot.

I often say that the coaching I received playing hockey is obsolete nowadays, things like “don’t try to block shots, you’ll only tip it past the goalie, let him make the saves.” One thing that still applies though is “That guy in front of the net? That’s your guy. Don’t leave him an inch of room.”  Brad Richards must have been wondering where everybody was, he was so lonely all alone out there by his lonesome.

P.K. did better later on, leaving Jonathan Toews little room in front of the net, being all over him until the whistle went.  That's great, but we shouldn't be applauding instances of solid basic plays from P.K.  With the amount of cap space he is taking up, he needs to be the absolute stud defenceman who plays thirty minutes and barely breaks a sweat, makes everything look easy.  With the amount of the budget he eats up, he doesn't allow us to have a Kevin Bieksa or Jay Bouwmeester on our second pair.  He needs to eat up the lion's share of icetime while being error-free and producing points.

And I won't break down the fourth goal by the Hawks, other than to mention that it was scored by Patrick Kane on a Jonathan Toews assist.  There's no real defence on that pair, they're going to get their share eventually.

As for the fifth, well the boys are just axing for a bag skate now....

After the game, Vincent Damphousse was saying the team and the young veterans gave up in the third period, that Carey Price gave René Bourque a stare after the Patrick Kane goal for his lack of effort, and that P.K. is -7 over the last couple of games.  He and Mario Tremblay couldn't settle on who to blame, the offence which can't score or the defence which can't stop anyone, allowing 11 goals in two games, and now ranking as the worst in the league.  Mario Tremblay rattled off that Alex Galchenyuk has one point in five games, Tomas Plekanec has none in eight.  Alain Crète helped him along: "Desharnais, Pacioretty, Gallagher, ..."

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