Thursday, 10 December 2015

Game 30: Canadiens 2, Red Wings 3

The Canadiens seemed to be in good position to win a game, end a three-game losing streak, until they gave up two quick goals in the third and fell 3-2 to the Red Wings.

Nice start to the game, the first period had lots of flow, back and forth action.  We sometimes argue whether the NHL needs more scoring, but this opening frame shows that as long as the players can skate and generate breakouts, as long as the hooking and slashing can be limited, we can enjoy exciting hockey without needing lots of goals.  Which would normally come under these free-flowing conditions anyway.

The coaches may not appreciate the show as much as I did though, they must have picked up a few more grey hairs, seeing all these partial breaks and outright breakaways.

Which led to quite a few open looks for Detroit at the Canadiens net.  And I winced everytime, expecting the worst.  I don't think I'm being uncharitable, it's just that Dustin has had a few rough outings the last few times we saw him, we wondered if he was up to the job.

Ah, who'm I kidding, I wince when they shoot at Carey too.  Although maybe not with so much  body english, with so much vigor.

Speaking of vigor, good to see Brad Richards performing well, after being thought at the end of his rope in New York.  Always liked to see him skate, he's not a speedster or anything, just a really pleasant skating stride, and fun to watch with the puck.

Speaking of speedsters, that Darren Helm guy, wow.  Any chance he lands on waivers?  'Cause I'd take him aboard too.

Chances are slim though, after seeing him score the opening goal of the game, on another break.  Of which there were many again in the second period.  The pace slowed down somewhat, but there were still end-to-end rushes, lots of breaks, lots of defencemen overwhelmed by opponents and their speed.

Never fear though, the IceCaps come to the rescue again, with Sven Andrighetto scoring to even up the game.  Charles Hudon is another rookie who picked up a point in his first game, after Daniel Carr a couple games ago.

When I saw the fourth line, with Sven and Charles on the wings with Brian Flynn at centre, I wondered if the veteran talked to them and told them to play like they do in the AHL, to rely on each other and look for each other since they know each other, and not defer to him as the NHL regular.  Flynn is playing a strong game again tonight, giving the club as much as as it can expect out of him.

Dustin Tokarski made a Fleury-in-the-Cup-final-in-the-dying-seconds type save, throwing his entire upper body at an incoming puck/wide open side of the net.  I was prepared to say he did the job tonight, except that by the time the dust settled he'd let in 3 pucks on 29 shots.  Again, it's hard to fault him on any individual goal, but he needed to make one more save.

Or maybe, the Canadiens needed to score a couple more goals?  Pierre Houde spoke about how the game had the same fishtail ending as last night's against the Bruins.  I had a good feeling tonight, that if we kept at it eventually the dam would break, except it broke in our own end.

Some brain cramps from the defencemen didn't help.  Greg Pateryn will rue his failure to make a 'strong play' on his giveaway that led to the third goal, they'll show him that in the video room over and over.  His attempted pass or clear flubbed weakly off his backhand, while he should have boomed it off the boards off his forehand.

Of course, it's easy to say that when you're siting on your couch and you don't have two Red Wings on top of you committed to taking away your 'time and space'.

And P.K. Subban put the final nail in the coffin by shooting a puck in the stands with less than two minutes to go, earning a delay of game penalty and dashing any reasonable hope at a comeback.  P.K. could be excused by his strongest supporters, who'll argue a bad bounce, but, even with my vow to this season take it easy on him and enjoy him for who he is, I can't be lenient on this.

This is when he, as a leader, alternate captain and the highest-paid player on the team, has to bear down, focus.  This isn't a good time for an 'aw-shucks' screwup.  You have to think of the situation, and act accordingly.  This was going to be the last storming of the ramparts, the last shot at a win, and it was stillborn, because he again tried a risky play, trying to bank a puck high off the glass, instead of choosing a safer option.

So four losses in a row, with the team playing decently, all things considered, but injuries and cold streaks combining to halt our early-season momentum and making us come out on the short end of the squeakers.

As Pierre Houde said, it's encouraging that the kids from the AHL are chipping in and showing they aren't cowed by the opportunity, but now the veterans have to take a step forward and carry the load.

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