Notes on the 3-0 loss to the Kings, based on my Canadiens Express viewing, the 1 hour condensed version by RDS. I was blacked out, couldn't watch the regular game, like a human being. Thank you, Gary Bettman.
--The edited version skipped over a lot of the first 10 minutes, just showed a few sequences, during which the Canadiens were bottled up by the Kings, and struggled to leave their zone. Yet PIerre Houde informed me that so far the shots were 6-5 in favour of the Canadiens.
Were the editors trying to editorialize? Not show the Canadiens' shots to impress upon the viewers how dominant the Kings were? Or were the Canadiens shots little flips from afar, of no great consequence, or risk to Jonathan Quick?
--Amazing how much obstruction the Kings are getting away with. When the Canadiens try to chip the puck behind their defencemen and give chase, they unfailingly put up their stick and raise a barrier, forcing the Hab to go around them, to fight through a block, as an offensive lineman would set up on a passing play, trying to prevent a pass rusher from getting home.
Offand, I saw a d-man do it on an onrushing Alex Galchenyuk, with the puck well behind him, and later on Andrei Markov as he tried to support Max on his shorthanded partial breakaway.
Yet the refs allow it. It's that NHL tolerance. It's the Kings' style, so you can't call them on it, right? Like you wouldn't call the Bruins for finishing a check right? Or for flipping the bird at the crowd, or spearing someone in the nuts, or barreling into the Sabres' goalie? I mean, if you did, they'd spend the entire game shorthanded, and that's not fair, right?
--And don't get me started on all the axe-chop slashing. Let them play, indeed.
--Sure enough, P.K. gets called in the second period for interference though, for obstructing the path of a King to the puck. Sometimes, I just don't know...
And the Kings capitalize for the 1-0 lead.
--Pierre Houde described the change in momentum halfway through the first period in favour of the Canadiens as a 'chavirement', a capsizing of the advantage in territory and possession. Before they gave up the lead, they were leading 26-10 in shots, something like that.
After the goal, he observed that the game was unfolding as they have lately, with the Canadiens controlling the play yet not able to take a lead, to show that control on the scoreboard.
And that was before the Kings scored again. His voice dropped an octave or two.
And the crowd, which had tried to fire up the building with an "Olé! Olé!" chant earlier, started moaning and muttering.
--It's open season on red jerseys when they have the puck near the Kings net. Slashes, holds, crosschecks, anything goes.
--Hard to not respect the honest work being done by Jonathan Quick though. Some quality saves, and then a couple miracles thrown in, which is what you need from your superstar goalie.
--It's not so much that the Kings are so physical and big, although they are that, but more that they are hermetical in their defensive coverage. A Canadien tries to gain the zone, and without fail, he looks up there are three white jerseys in his face.
--Completely disagree with the few fans who booed the team near the end. You can boo when the boys don't work hard, when they're being dominated, but this is a case of poor puck luck. They barraged the Kings net with rubber, but couldn't get lucky.
--Actually, scratch that. At the price they pay for tickets, those good folks can do whatever they want.
--Since the slide started, it's been fashionable to say that the Canadiens are missing 'just' Brendan Gallagher and Carey Price. But really, when we think about it, it's the entire right side, the right wing that's missing.
Last summer, when we were doing up our line combos, when Michel Therrien was moving his magnetic name tags on the dry erase board, we all had Gally and Alex Semin in the Top 6, depending on who centred who, how that fell. Then we had Zack Kassian on the third line, Dale Weise on the fourth. Some of us flipped Devante Smith-Pelly over to the left by necessity, some had him being waivered to the AHL (honest, check the tape). And we all discounted any possible contribution by Brian Flynn, but that's a different story.
But anyway, out of our five right wingers, only one is playing right now, good ole Weissy. Devo should come back soon. But we're still short Brendan, and the two acquisitions brought in to solidify the right wing and chip in some offence.
So four out of five RW's aren't there to play. Which is how you get a lineup with Paul Byron on the Top 6.
We can blame Marc Bergevin for miscalculating on Alex Semin and Zack Kassian, but the mood was generally positive this summer that at least one of those two would work out. Those were pretty good odds.
I had Zack penciled in for fifteen goals, and Alex Semin twenty-five, easy. I'm a glass two-thirds full kind of guy. I was counting those fourty goals as hatched, and was already spending the bonus that was sure to come on top of that.
But yeah, that's a lot of NHL talent our lineup is devoid of right now. And we're having to rely on AHL'ers to pick up the slack, instead of being complementary, secondary pieces.
--Still, it's hard to get mad when you're the victim of a 45 shot shutout. We careypriced opponents last year, tonight they did it to us.