Monday, 21 December 2015

Game 35: Canadiens 1, Predators 5

Notes on the Canadiens 5-1 loss to the Nashville Predators tonight.

--Continuing on a theme:

DUSTIN TOKARSKI   SA: 14    Saves: 11   SV%: .786

MIKE CONDON   SA: 4   Saves: 3         SV%: .750

PEKKA RINNE   SA: 36   Saves: 35 SV%: .972


--Pierre Houde of RDS explained after the Predators went up 1-0 on a Shea Weber blast, a shot on which Dustin Tokarski was screened and probably helpless, that the Canadiens were repeating the same patterns as in previous games, swarming the opposition net and doing everything but scoring, and falling behind early.

Marc Denis went further and explained that it's not that the goalie(s) can be blamed for individual goals, but that they're not able to chip in some big timely saves like Carey Price can.

--As a fan, I'd love to say that Jarred Tinordi did well out there, and he did kind of look good, all rangy and surprisingly mobile, sometimes pinching in, sometimes thwarting a Preds chance.  I liked the concept of Jarred Tinordi and Mike McCarron being in uniform at the same time.

As a cold-eyed realist though, it's hard to overlook that he was on the ice for three Nashville goals.  On one of them, through no fault of his own, he kind of rubbed against Dustin who then couldn't move laterally and make a save when the puck ticked off Lars Eller's interception attempt and bounced into the net.

On the others, he didn't do anything wrong, anything glaring you could point to, but then you start to wonder, would Jeff Petry or Nathan Beaulieu have had slightly better anticipation, puck handling skills, passing acumen, and would they have cleared the puck earlier, before the scramble began, before the threat even materialized?

--That disallowed Daniel Carr goal is symptomatic of the rot at the NHL's core.  Brendan Gallagher has already spoken on this, and predicted that defenders will voluntarily bump opponents into their own goalies to create the 'incidental contact' that negates goals.

And that's precisely what happened.  Shea Weber took Alex Galchenyuk and pushed him through the crease and into his goalie.  If anything should have rightfully resulted from that review, it should have been that She Weber get an interference penalty.  It was clear as day, Alex didn't have the puck, Shea Weber wasn't allowed to touch him or impede his movement.  He certainly wasn't allowed to hook/shove him.

But that's the NHL for you.  Creating its own system of video review, vastly flawed, that is now expanded to watch for offsides, that most trivial, inconsequential of infractions.  If you need a HD slow-mo to detect the offside, obviously no advantage was gained, it was a question of a few millimetres.

Punches to the head behind the play, slewfoots, spears in the groin, those are 'judgment calls', and cannot be reviewed though.  We wouldn't want to muddle the picture.  The ref didn't see it, what can we do?

Plus, revenues are growing.  Gary Bettman's and his cronies' savant strategy of charging more for everything is just a stroke of genius.  Give that boy-wonder a raise.

The Daniel Carr goal should have counted.  The Predators caused their own misfortune, they shouldn't benefit from that.

And the day will come when a player will tear his own goalie's ACL by using this little tactic.  It's only a matter of time until one gets kypreosed by his own teammate.  Department of Player Safety, indeed.

--Pulling Dustin Tokarski after the third goal, especially one as unlucky and unblameworthy as that, seemed like an impulsive, unwise move to me.  It's not like Dustin looked particularly bad on any one goal.  Sure, he didn't make any big saves, but relatively speaking, Dustin was doing as well as can be expected.  We should have rested Mike Condon for the next night.  This game was already lost, we should have saved our bullets for Minny.

--We could riff on the point that the Canadiens essentially doubled the Preds' shot totals, 36-19.  But I'm not taking as much comfort from that anymore.  I won't harp on shot quality or anything, stats show that the old gripe that the Canadiens' shots come from the periphery isn't correct, the Canadiens shots break down pretty much along league average in terms of location.  We get as many scrambly battles with a skittering puck in front of the net as we should.

What we don't do is finish those, or finish on the powerplay.  Sportsnet showed a graphic during the game that the Canadiens were shooting at an 11% clip early in the season, when every trio was producing, and the Fleischmann-Desharnais-Weise line was a gift from the gods.  Now, since the losing streak began, they're at less than half that success rate.  Combined with the .880 save percentage, that's some fall from grace.

How long before the need to change things up becomes too great to resist, and we see David Perron or Jordan Eberle land here, at much too great a cost?

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