Friday, 4 November 2016

Game 11: Canadiens 0, Blue Jackets 10

I tried to watch the game live, but had to resort to a stream thanks to Gary Bettman, and couldn't find one reliable enough to properly follow the game, so I had to call it after the first period, an early-onset weekend nap was about to befall me anyway.

So I shut 'er down, and came back to the game with RDS' "Canadiens Express", ready for the Canadiens to valiantly storm back and win this game, to continue The Streak.

I rewatched the first period, and saw the 3 goals and 2 posts allowed by the Canadiens as the Blue Jackets cakewalked all over our zone.  Sure, some of that was on the powerplay, but our penalty kill has been a strength of this team, has it not?  Historically, at least?

I blamed Tim Peel.

Some astute commenters on social media had claimed that while The Streak was nice, and that the early-season points were as valid as March points, Al Montoya wouldn't maintain a .950 Sv% all through the season.  The relatively easy schedule so far, loaded with creampuffs like the Leafs and Canucks and Senators and Blue Jackets, would eventually turn more nasty.

There's not much to say about the second or third period, I found out.  Pierre Houde had the quote of the game when he said, about six goals in, that he was tired of hearing "ce très désagréable canon."

Forget the canon, I hate that "Wo-oh, oh, oh, oh, oh, oh, uh-ho" goal song.  I never want to hear that again, like Roberto Luongo never wants to hear "Chelsea Dagger" ever again.

I understand the reasoning behind not replacing Al Montoya, that you want to save Carey Price for the next night's game, conserve his energy, but once it's 7-0, and the team has collapsed, and the substitute goalie's nerves are shot, maybe you don't have a choice in this matter, really?  Maybe at some point a bad loss leaches into a toxic waste dump of a disaster of a loss that no Superfund can never clean no way nohow?

At 9-0, I started thinking that this is like a horror movie, just gore and ugliness, and I'm not forced to submit myself to it, I can walk out, or delete it from my PVR.  The other way I'll often get through a horror movie is by ceasing to suspend my disbelief, by telling myself that this is not real, that it's just a movie.  That second option, unfortunately, was not available to me tonight.

Marc Denis, as the end of the game approached, mentioned that the Canadiens had allowed 120 shots in three games, 38-42-40 against the Leafs, Canucks, and Blue Jackets.  This would necessitate some adjustments, some changes.  I'll find it hard not to panic, to overreact, and I'll hope that the GM and Head Coach don't succumb either.

I posted this prior to the game:
Un Canadien errant
Last season, Nick Foligno and Brandon Dubinsky among others pushed us around and embarrassed us, that’s what’s foremost in my mind, I want to see if we’re more intimidation-resistant with Shea Weber, Andrew Shaw, Alex Radulov and Greg Pateryn in the lineup.
But then I think back, and it was Cam Atkinson that we couldn’t handle, he had a hat trick in one game, we couldn’t handle his speed.
So while on paper this lines up as a pre-ordained win, there are some interesting dynamics going into the game. The Jackets know they can beat us, and the Canadiens may have something to prove, may be more invested in this game than we might think.
There's a famous quote from the world of basketball, where a coach, explaining the makeup of his roster, says "Fast guys get tired.  Big guys don't shrink."

We may have seen this in action.  As some observers have mentioned, the simple uptempo system of the Canadiens is easy to install, and may give the Canadiens an edge in the early season, as demonstrated by the Canadiens' October records under Michel Therrien 2.0.  The thinking is that while other teams are trying to get in sync, trying to find their groove, we're outskating them and buzzing all over the ice, and racking up wins.

The thing is though, the success of the team is reliant on 20 guys putting out full effort, and no more than one or two having an off-night.  If the Canadiens have some bad shrimp on the flight in, or if four or five aren't feeling it, still loaded down with Hallowe'en candy, then the other team can easily exploit our weaknesses.  If our undersized, undertalented team isn't clicking, isn't firing on all cylinders, then it's 'easy to play against'.

Tonight, the Blue Jackets did push us around, but not all that much, the game was out of hand early, and our boys ran up the white flag in the second period.  But there was an arrogance on the Columbus team, that they aren't afraid of our boys physically, they were the bullies if they chose to play that way.  They stood in our crease and put pucks in, and weren't intimidated, by our size certainly, or our speed, or our scoring threat.

Why would they, when Paul Byron was the most salient forward in bleu blanc rouge?

And as far as the Canadiens having something to prove, and maybe being invested in this game, I'll give myself a big fat zero, and take that back.

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