Canadiens Express notes on the 6-4 loss against the Sabres tonight.
As always, my gratitude to Gary Bettman for making it so that I don't have to waste a full night watching hockey, I can watch this condensed, accelerated broadcast, the 'I don't really care anymore' version.
--As a rational, thinking fan who knows when opportunity knocks, I want the Canadiens to place high in the Draft Lottery. Which means that when we face a bottom-feeder like the Sabres, a dreaded competitor of ours for Auston Matthews, we have to find a way to outgaffe them, to fumble away the game.
Even when it will be unseemly to lose, since they played last night in Philly and had to travel back to Buffalo. We can't lose our resolve in situation like these, weaken, and pounce on a wounded foe. We must lay down.
--But when I hear a Sven Andrighetto slapper ping off the crossbar, and see the red lamp glow, I can't help but jump off my couch and cheer. Beauty pass by Max, and one-timer by the erstwhile IceCap.
--Justin Bailey was a star at a pre-draft combine held by the Canadiens the year he was drafted. The story went that some coaches and scouts knew his father, who had played in the NFL, had a prolonged chat with him on the ice and shook his hand before he left the ice. They reportedly loved his combination of skill and size.
That's the kind of talent you can accumulate when you stockpile draft picks like the Sabres have.
--The transparently obvious conspiracy theory last year was that Sabres goalie Michal Neuvirth was too competent, and wasn't piling up the losses to boy-genius Tim Murray's satisfaction, so got shipped out of town for inferior goalie Chad Johnson and a third-rounder.
That diminished goaltending assured the Sabres their guaranteed 20% odds in the lottery, from which lofty perch brainiac Sabres GM Tim Murray felt he couldn't possibly lose out on Connor McDavid.
--Seeing Chad Johnson operate, I can see that the Sabres pro-scouting isn't deficient. That young man will indeed lose you a lot of games.
But we shouldn't bring that up, the Sabres' problem is obviously that they don't score enough, and it's the only aspect of their ineptitude we should discuss.
--We're not going to discuss it, but those were some dribblers that Ben Scrivens let through.
--Bad luck for Mark Barberio tonight, one shot on net which should have found mesh but stayed out, and he got caught flat-footed on the early breakaway goal by David Legwand, held the blue line and didn't recognize the incipient threat. I suspect the coaches' ire on that play will be targeted on Tomas Fleischmann though.
--Andrei though, that was a beauty giveaway in our zone, on the fifth Sabres goal.
--P.K. Subban still has a long way to go yet in terms of his self-control and maturity. When we start playing, when we're five years old, we're told that the refs are part of the playing surface. He knows that.
I get that he's frustrated, that it's a bitter way to give up an insurance goal, but honestly, that's not why the Canadiens lost. They lost when they couldn't capitalize on their scoring chances.
P.K., refs have a long memory. You're a leader on this team. You wear the 'A' on your sweater, and will need to approach referees in the future to argue your team's case. You have to cultivate these relationships, not burn bridges.
--On L'Antichambre, Jacques Demers, Guy Carbonneau, Denis Gauthier and Gaston Therrien didn't have much positive to offer beyond Sven Andrighetto and Alex Galchenyuk's play. They felt that the loss was inexcusable, and P.K.'s reaction to the bad bounce was childish and unbecoming.
--I posted recently how we've slowly, in drips and drabs, in a series of perfectly reasonable decisions and roster moves, frittered away a lot of our size and toughness. Travis Moen, René Bourque, Jarred Tinordi, Zack Kassian, Brandon Prust, all traded away, and not really replaced, and we're back to a Jacques Martin-era lineup, a slew of undersized speedy forwards who get pushed around by the Blues and Bruins and Sens.
Jacques Demers made a similar point with respect to leadership. He agreed that Josh Gorges and Brian Gionta were too highly-paid to remain on the team, they had to go, but that the team sorely misses their leadership. He expounded that during the game, Josh and Gio were frequently seen talking to their young teammates, giving them their marching orders.
Marc Bergevin felt that his young leadership corps was ready, they needed to take over from the old guard. It may be that this was a faulty assessment. Their loss, along with Brandon Prust and Manny Malhotra, may not have been replaced by Max and P.K. and Gally. There may be a vacuum on the team where Prusty and Gio were before.
--And Guy Carbonneau wondered "Was Carey Price the only real leader on this team?"