Penguins and Canadiens - Game One Goals Broken Down

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Going into this game, if anyone had suggested that the Canadiens would score two even strength goals, another on the powerplay, and outshoot the Penguins 31-24, you'd logically conclude that their chances of winning the game would be fairly sound.

Many conclusions on this Canadiens loss seem to have settled on fatigue being the cause, but I maintain that a lack of preparation time for fending off the Stanley Cup champs is the true reason behind the Canadiens poor showing, especially on the penalty kill.

Perhaps within the Canadiens ranks, coming off the win over Washington, it was felt that after nullifying the league's best power play, the area that needed the least attention was their PK. If so, such a belief has been a grave error, as Pittsburgh are not Washington, and the Habs were clearly unhinged on three of four Pittsburgh man advantages.

To emphasize that it could not be fatigue that cost the game, the Canadiens fared well in other areas, matching the Penguins hit for hit (30-30) and winning 55% of faceoffs.

In sum, the Canadiens Game Two corrections today, will cast more light onto what truly occured in Game One.

Note: There are no graphs, vids or analysis for the empty net goals scored in the game. They are simply listed.

Goal 1 P.K. Subban (1), unassisted

On ice for Montreal: Cammalleri (13), Plekanec (14), Hamrlik (44), Kostitsyn (46), Subban (76)

On ice for Pittsburgh: Eaton (7), Dupuis (9), Staal (11), Cooke (24), Letang (58)

 

Goal description:

Plekanec wins the faceoff and Cammalleri grabs the puck and turns towards the Pittsburgh defense, firing a shot that hits a Letang in the chest. The pucks drops at his feet, and he swats it directly to Subban at the point. With no Pittsburgh forward immediately in front of him, Subban wrists a shot on net through a crowd and it beats Marc-Andre Fleury.

What Montreal did right:

Plekanec won the faceoff, Cammalleri was quick on it. Subban chose the option of firing a simple shot on net. All three Canadiens forwards formed practically a straight line in the trajectory of Subban's shot.

What Pittsburgh did wrong:

Lost the draw and barely had puck possession off the faceoff. Letang's rushed clear went straight onto Subban's stick, while their was no forward presence in front of him. Merely by consequence, three Penguins were also in Fleury's line of vision.

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Goal 2 Sergei Gonchar (1), assists Kris Letang (1) and Evgeni Malkin (5)

On ice for Montreal: Plekanec (14), Gorges (26), Gill (75), Pyatt (94)

On ice for Pittsburgh: Guerin (13), Gonchar (55), Letang (58), Malkin (71), Crosby (87)

Goal description:

Pittsburgh are on the powerplay as a result of the Gionta penalty and score 26 seconds in. The Canadiens are in a box formation low in front of Halak, allowing Letang, Gonchar and Malkin to move the puck in a triangle form with alarming ease. Five passes are made, as Guerin settles in front of Halak with nothing more than a harmless shove from Gill. Gonchar, on his third reception, one times a point blast past a screened Halak.

What Pittsburgh did right:

The Penguins took advantage of there being no puck pressure from Montreal, at all, on the kill. All three Penguins who passed the puck had good looks, but Gonchar had the best straight line, no angle option. With Guerin successfully blinding Halak's view. Gonchar's drive was timely and precise.

What Montreal did wrong:

The Canadiens coverage was backed in and Plekanec was too far over into Pyatt's area of coverage, thus allowing puck movement freedom for Pittsburgh. Plekanec was never able to find position and inhibit the lane between Gonchar and Letang high to his right. Guerin was allowed to do what he does best, with barely any contact or coverage.

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Goal 3 Jordan Staal (2), assists Alex Ponikarovsky (3) and Alex Goligoski (3)

On ice for Montreal: Gionta (21), Gorges (26), Moore (42), Gill (75)

On ice for Pittsburgh: Goligoski (3), Staal (11), Kunitz (14), Ponikarovsky (23), Gonchar (55)

Goal description:

Gomez, Moen and Eaton are all off with roughing minors following the Markov / Cooke incident, giving the Pens their second power play in five minutes. With a half minute left in the man advantage, Ponikarovsky carries the puck across the Montreal blue line, where he is confronted by Gionta, who gives him a bump. Ponikarovsky dishes off to Staal at the side board. Staal battles for the puck between Moore and Gill, who's all the way over against the boards. Moore swats back to Gill who misfires it off Staal and it redirectly to Ponikarovsky near the corner. Meantime, Staal has eluded Gill, and Ponikarovsky feeds him a pass as he'd between Gionta and Gorges, who are both skating in opposite directions from Staal. Both players coil towards the net, as they should, but Staal brilliantly opts for a higher path, eluding them both once again. He's thirty feet out when he fires at the Canadiens goal, with Kunitz left and a sprawling Gionta making for a light screen.

What Pittsburgh did right:

The Penguins were quicker to the puck on two occasions, one which blocked the Gill clear. Ponikarovsky's pass went into a loaded zone, but found Staal in a unique position. Staal was extremely elusive on the whole play.

What Montreal did wrong:

What should have allowed for routine coverage in the final seconds of the powerplay was messed by Gill, who ill-advisedly tried to play an opponent he had no business covering. His lack pf poise with the puck created a costly turnover behind him and it conspired to catch both Gorges and Gionta (who was covering for him) off guard. Two odd bounces, if you will, had the Habs pressured and in panic mode.

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Goal 4 Kris Letang (3), assist Sidney Crosby (10)

On ice for Montreal: O'Byrne (20), Gionta (21), Hamrlik (44), Gomez (91)

On ice for Pittsburgh: Guerin (13), Gonchar (55), Letang (58), Malkin (71), Crosby (87)

Goal description:

The Penguins are on a third powerplay, resulting from a "too many men" call on the Canadiens bench. A little over a minute has elapsed into the penalty and the Penguins first unit are out. Crosby carries the puck towards the Montreal blue line, but the play is broken when his feed to Malkin gets caught in his skates. With Malkin battling Gomez for the puck, Crosby smartly skates in to support him at the boards. Crosby intercepts Gomez's clearing attempt, just as Hamrlik has come way out of position, seemingly to inhibit a cross ice feed to Letang at the opposite point. Just as Hamrlik coils back, that's exactly where Crosby puts it, and Letang strides in a good twenty feet, and with only a kneeling O'Byrne between him and Halak, he fires a wrister that beats the Canadiens goalie.

What Pittsburgh did right:

Much of the smart work was Crosby's, not surprisingly. After noticing his feed to Malkin did not work out, he moved in to support both his player, the puck possession, and block the clear. He emerged with the puck due to his tenacity, and spied Hamrlik turning one way, and passed the puck behind him, creating huge swath of ice for Letang to create for himself. Letang, poised, moved in for the kill with time on his side, and beat Halak with a low shot to the corner.

What Montreal did wrong:

On the Malkin lost feed, Gomez had the puck sitting in front of him, and he was unaware, slow to react to react to it. Gomez, through lack of physical presence, lost battles with both Malkin and Crosby in the span of a second and a half. Two Montreal forwards were off to one side, immediately upon Pitsburgh entry into the zone. Regardless of Gionta being in the general area, Hamrlik ventured to cover an area that was not his. The Canadiens were basically scrambling around on what was initially playing out to be nothing more than a broken Pittsburgh entry into Habs territory. An ounce of composure would have helped.

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Goal 5 Michael Cammalleri (6), assists Scott Gomez (4) and Brian Gionta (3)

On ice for Montreal: Cammalleri (13), Gionta (21), Bergeron (47), Subban (76), Gomez (91)

On ice for Pittsburgh: Eaton (7), Ponikarovsky (23), Talbot (25), Gonchar (55), Malkin (71)

Goal description:

Cammalleri is moved up to play with Gomez and Gionta for a shift against Malkin's line. Subban's feed from the point to Gionta just misses as he's cruising toward the goal. Gionta recovers well, gains the puck off the backboard behind him. Through Eaton's pushback, Gionta somehow manages a harmless shot on Fleury that turns a simple play into a scoring chance at the net. The rebound off Fleury is scooped up by Gomez, and he heads behind the goal, drawing the attention of both Gonchar and Talbot. As soon as they move to face him, Gomez fires a pass to Cammalleri, open in the slot momentarily, and he one times past Fleury, who's yet to position himself from the initial shot.

What Montreal did right:

Gionta was luckily in position to regain a missed pass, and with Eaton in his face, chose to put the puck on goal as his safest option. That choice seemed to catch a Penguin or three off guard.

Gionta turned a countered situation into a scoring chance by simply putting the puck on net as he was about to be checked. Gomez smartly headed for open space upon retrieval of the rebound. Cammalleri stayed put in the slot.

What Pittsburgh did wrong:

Fleury offered a rebound off a soft shot, Talbot abandonned his coverage of Cammalleri and Gonchar was focused on Gomez, but not in a postion to block the pass. Off the top, Eaton was covering Gionta, whereas that should have been Talbot's responsibility. Talbot was at the net concerning himself with Cammalleri. Malkin, perhaps unrecognicent of his winger role at the time, was nowhere near to helping Eaton with Gionta.

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Goal 6 Craig Adams (2), assists Pascal Dupuis (4) and Matt Cooke (2)

On ice for Montreal: Gionta (21), Bergeron (47), Pouliot (57), Subban (76), Gomez (91)

On ice for Pittsburgh: Goligoski (3), Eaton (7), Dupuis (9), Cooke (24), Adams (27)

Goal description:

The Penguins only even strength goal on the night came with their third line semmingly playing against the Canadiens top line. The Plekanec line was just heading off the ice, as Andrei Kostitsyn fires a soft dump rather than driving the puck deep, and enabling a swift line change. The Piitsburgh defenseman (Letang or Gonchar?) reconizes the error, and capitalizes on it, sending a feed up ice that hits Dupuis at the Canadiens blue line before the Habs line change is fully complete and in place. Dupuis flips a shot into the slot that is gloved by Cooke and then passed back to Dupuis, who hits a streaking Adams, cruising into the slot. Adams burries the one-timer past Halak, as practically all five Canadiens were required to focus elsewhere to cover the quick Penguins transition.

What Pittsburgh did right:

The Pittsburgh blueliner and Dupuis were astutely alert off Kostitsyn's soft dump. Dupuis smartly positioned himself ready for a long up ice feed at the Montreal blue line. Dupuis happend to still be open (?) for Cooke to feed, and he spotted a charging Adams flying towards the goal.

What Montreal did wrong:

Should read nothing less than "what Andrei Kostitsyn did wrong." Subban was the only Hab left in the vicinity with a compromised chance to cover Dupuis, but his help on the play was still coming off the bench. The goal was a game turning point, as the Canadiens, three minutes earlier had reduced the score to a 3-2 Pens margin. If you were wondering why you did not see Andrei on the ice until late in the third....

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Goal 7 Alex Goligoski (2), assists Sidney Crosby (11) and Bill Guerin (5)

On ice for Montreal: Plekanec (14), O'Byrne (20), Gill (75), Pyatt (94)

On ice for Pitsburgh: Goligoski (3), Guerin (13), Gonchar (55), Malkin (71), Crosby (87)

Goal description:

The Penguins are on their fourth power play of the game thanks to a delay of game penalty assessed to Gionta, for accidentally flipping a pass 75 feet across the ice's width over the opposite side glass. (If ever there were a clip telling that this call such be a judgement decision by the refs, this is it!) There is fifteen seconds remaning in the Canadiens penalty kill when Pittsburgh score.

Four Canadiens are in a scrum in the slot against three Penguin forwards, but it is Crosby who finds it first and feeds to Gonchar, left open at the point. Gonchar feeds left to his partner Goligoski, who has no option other than taking the only offered pass lane, which results in Crosby picking up the purposely errant feed off the wood behind him. Crosby does little more than look up, scanning the entire Canadiens four man box focusing towards him, all to one side of the ice. As Goligoski sneaks behind them, Crosby hits him with a feed few mortals can make through traffic, and the Pens defender one-times and riffles the feed past a late arriving Halak.

What Pittsburgh did right:

Goligoski, with no line on the Canadiens goal, smartly fed the puck back the one player capable of making something out of nothing.

What Montreal did wrong:

Failed to come up with some sort of scripted conspiracy and corrupted bribe that would have enabled them to draft and sign Crosby in the summer of 2005.

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Goal 8 Brian Gionta (3), assists Marc-Andre Bergeron (3) and Scott Gomez (5)

On ice for Montreal: Cammalleri (13), Gionta (21), Bergeron (47), Subban (76), Gomez (91)

On ice for Pittsburgh: Cooke (24), Adams (27), Orpik (44), Gonchar (55)

Goal description:

Cammalleri is again shifted with Gomez and Gionta, one minute into a power play midway throught the third period. Subban follows the puck he has played into the right side corner, allowing Gomez to win with a brief battle with Adams, and feed the puck back to Marc-Andre Bergeron at the point. Bergeron passes off to Gionta, (in a rotation cover for Subban going high) at his left. Gionta blasts a point drive that beats Fleury.

What Montreal did right:

Subban pursued a play that did not work out to his liking. A calculated but entirely daring risk considering the score, it enabled the Gomez puck possession. Gomez chose the most open option in Bergeron. Gionta, in a low percentage scoring chance, opted for a shor on net that eluded Fleury.

What Pittsburgh did wrong:

To be fair, Adams barely had the time and opportunity to suggest he'd been outmanned by Subban and Gionta. But he was, and no fault of his own. Fleury was beaten by a very stoppable shot from Gionta, who rarely ever scores from a range six times his height.

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Goal 9 Bill Guerin (3), assists Kris Kunitz (5) and Brooks Orpik (1) EN

On ice for Montreal: Cammalleri (13), Gionta (21), Bergeron (47), Pouliot (57), Subban (76), Gomez (91)

On ice for Pittsburgh: Guerin (13), Kunitz (14), Orpik (44), Letang (58), Crosby (87)

Final Analysis

The Canadiens penalty kill was panicked and abysmal (or "a bylsma" if you're dislexic and still reading) on four occasions. On the first, likely not knowing or being comfortable what to do, they allowed the Penguins to set up at the blue line unchallenged. On the second, Gill compromised every teammate with a terrible read, On the third, Gomez was victim to the whirlwind that can be Crosby when he is possessed. On the forth Penguins PP, little else other than the Crosby vision accounted for the goal.

Other than that, and it's a whole lot of other, the compete in the Canadiens showed they could measure up. A subtration of a few bonehead moves, a day of studying the Penguins PP against them, and the realization that Crosby hands must be entirely taken away from him, should result in a closer score.

Thanks always to Chris Boyle for graphics and added insight.

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