The final incident of 2013 that seemed to really renew the idea that the Canadiens needed an "enforcer", "policeman", "goon" or as we know them at Eyes on the Prize, Facepuncher. You could see it influence the Canadiens off-season decisions several times and today it is a constant debate that teams need to have the 'muscle' to play in the newly-termed Atlantic Division. This game took place on May 5th, 2013.
You can argue that the playoff series between the Montreal Canadiens and Ottawa Senators was lost in Game 1. Eric Gryba decided Lars Eller needed to be out of this playoff series, Brian Gionta tore a bicep tendon and Max Pacioretty had his shoulder seperated. One has to credit Gionta and Pacioretty with the guts to try and keeping playing through the series, but injured they just could not make an effective impact on the scoreboard. This led to the Canadiens being a little outmatched in depth by the Senators, having already lost Alexei Emelin who was probably their 2nd-best Even Strength defensemen in 2013 before his injury.
1st Ottawa Goal: Starts at 0:49 on the video.
- With two Canadiens in the box serving minor penalties, the Ottawa Senators are enjoying a 5-on-3 power play against one of the worst penalty killing team seen in the 2013 NHL regular season or the playoffs. This is especially precarious for Montreal as one of their lead penalty killing defensemen Josh Gorges is in the box on a hooking call.
- Diaz peels off after the blocked shot and Gonchar retrieves the puck. Gonchar circles back outside of the faceoff circle and sends it to Erik Karlsson at the point, Karlsson passes it right back to Gonchar who lines up for another shot.
- Gonchar does not get the shot quite through to Price, but going through the wave of bodies it hits Daniel Alfredsson's skate, who immediately realises upon his opportunity and shovels it under a sprawling Carey Price. 1-0 Ottawa.
2nd Period: Game is tied at 1-1 to start the period.
2nd Ottawa Goal: Starts at 3:53 on the video.
- A battle along the boards in Ottawa's zone sends the puck bouncing out to behind the goal line where Marc Methot retrieves it. Methot takes up the puck and begins skating it towards the neutral zone, but sends a cross-ice pass to Sergei Gonchar on the other side of the zone as Methot sees Brandon Prust moving in on him to cut off his forward movement.
- Gonchar gains the neutral zone and just as Alex Galchenyuk starts skating in his direction, Gonchar sends a forward pass to spring Jean-Gabriel Pageau through the middle of the neutral zone and into the Montreal Canadien's own end. P.K. Subban attempts to move in to cut off Pageau's drive to the net but it is too late.
- Pageau beats Carey Price clean here on a wrist shot, not a very good goal on Price and the Senators have taken a 2-1 lead in this game. Not really out of control for sure though. 2-1 Ottawa.
3rd Period: Ottawa leads 2-1
3rd Ottawa Goal: This begins at 6:40 on the video.
- The play begins in Ottawa's zone. The replay after the goal (7:04) shows the puck being chipped to the halfboards after a faceoff in Ottawa's zone between Alex Galchenyuk and Jean-Gabriel Pageau.
- Jared Cowen will retrieve the puck and pass it forward along the boards to Chris Neil. Francis Bouillon picks Neil up as his assignment but can not make a move on Neil who passes to Pageau who is already heading forward looking for the puck to begin another offensive zone drive.
- Jarred TInordi picks up the assignment on Pageau, but Pageau uses Tinordi as a screen on Carey Price to make a it a 3-1 game for Ottawa. 3-1 Ottawa.
4th Ottawa Goal: 7:59 on the video.
- The puck is ringing along the back boards in Ottawa's zone and comes out to stick of Cory Conacher who is set to intercept it. He bats it forward a little but the move is rushed as Raphael Diaz is moving in to check him to try and gain possession for Montreal.
- Alex Galchenyuk and Kyle Turris both make a move for the puck, Turris gains possession first but Galchenyuk's stick knocks the puck away, but out of Ottawa's own end where Daniel Alfredsson is already waiting and begins an offensive rush from the neutral zone. Erik Karlsson and Kyle Turris follow in support.
- Alfredsson, Turris and Karlsson all gain the zone as the Canadiens labour to counter the 3-on-1 rush but can not catch up in time. Josh Gorges is the man back and does about the only thing he can reasonably do, interferes the cross-ice pass that would likely give Karlsson an open net. The puck is deflected and Karlsson does not get a clean handle on the puck as he lightly taps it to the back boards behind the Canadiens net.
- Price is sprawled in anticipation of Karlsson's shot and is trying to recover as Alfredsson beats out both Diaz and Gorges to the puck at the back of the board and sends it to Kyle Turris, who is alone in front of the net as Price is still getting his bearings back and fails to make the save on Turris's shot. 4-1 Ottawa.
- Price is a bit at fault here, but I suspect talk of him carrying injuries in the playoffs might be accurate as he is a generally athletic goalie and it seemed to be a slow recovery by the standard you usually grade Price's athletics on.
- The Canadiens skaters also own this on a bad pinch by Diaz who was not back to support the defensive effort when the team was down in a 3-1 game. Sometimes risks are necessary but Diaz is not the type of player you expect to check a player off the puck and retrieve it. Galchenyuk's attempting to poke-check the puck off Turris is a bit of bad luck in the direction it went I would say.
- The final error owes to Gorges who while he blocked the initial pass and killed Karlsson's shot attempt essentially, he failed to get back and beat Alfredsson to the puck nor blocked the pass when it was sent back to Turris. But I would not fault Gorges much here, if he had not blocked the initial pass that was almost certainly a goal if Karlsson put any lift on his shot, but second efforts do matter.
1st Scrum appears: Highlight video is incomplete for the content, for a better view, we consult here.
- This whole affair begins with Ryan White making an absurdly strange decision. White viciously slashes Zack Smith right off of the faceoff causing him to fall down and invites a gigantic scrum as a result.
- White loses his fight against Jared Cowen and as is later revealed, has a punctured lung. I've read speculation this happened pre-fight which I am not quite sure I buy as why would he get involved in such a mess if he was only working with one functional lung? Either way, White gets the worst of the exchange against the much bigger Cowen,
- Travis Moen and Chris Neil face off, this is not their first encounter since Moen joined the Canadiens but as was observed by many during the 2013 season, Moen seems to be a lesser player than when he joined the Canadiens and Neil comes out ahead in this scrap.
- Jarred Tinordi squares off with Chris Phillips, but given Tinordi's green nature and not being much of a proficient fighter in junior, nor is he physically mature so he takes a loss against the veteran Phillips. Not his fault, just bad timing to be drawn into another of the foolish antics that was Ryan White's 2013 season.
- Francis Bouillon finds himself tied up with Smith who's gotten back up, the fight goes about as well as one might expect between Bouillon and a player half a foot taller and 12 years younger.
- Colby Armstrong will drop the gloves with Matt Kassian as they got involved in the initial mash of bodies but this a very short affair and both are quickly sent right to the box by the officials before the other fights have even concluded. Kassian clearly wins here.
- Phillips, Smith, Tinordi, Armstrong, Moen, Neil, Kassian are all assigned Game Misconducts for the line brawl. The officials are trying to calm down any further hostilities at this point.
5th Ottawa Goal: 9:26 on the video.
- The Senators come out of the line brawl with a power play since Ryan White's slashing did begin the whole affair.
- Tomas Plekanec and Mika Zibanejad take the faceoff and the ensuing battle has the puck slip sideways to where Milan Michalek can pick it up, slipping past Raphael Diaz and starts heading right to the net.
- Brandon Prust and Jakob Silfverberg are caught up in a battle, but Silfverberg slips loose and moves towards the top of the goal crease as Michaelek comes out past Diaz.
- Prust sees Michalek and goes down to attempt to block the pass with his stick but fails as the pass slips through to Silfverberg. Price tries to come across in time to make the save but Silfverberg gets enough lift to get the goal. 5-1 Ottawa.
2nd Scrum Appears: Due to a lack of complete video for the incidents that I could locate, we once again turn to an alternative video to examine this incident.
- The affair begins with a shoving match between Rene Bourque and Cory Conacher.
- Bourque and Conacher break off, but then Josh Gorges of all people charges Conacher from the side and knocks him to the ground.
- P.K. Subban and Kyle Turris are now getting into it. They exchange a cross check each and start shoving into each other still holding their sticks. Subban drops the gloves first and immediately begins laying into Turris and wrestles him to the ground, still throwing punches while he has Turris on the ground. An official breaks it up. Subban picks up a game misconduct.
6th Goal: This begins at 10:16 on the video.
- Ottawa is once again on the power play, owing to the penalties from the 2nd scrum that just occurred.
- The initial video does not give a good angle on the play development so I shifted to the replay at 10:52 on the video.
- Daniel Alfredsson has possession at the point, who passes it forward to Eric Condra who is waiting along the boards. He skates into the faceoff circle and immediately passes it Jean-Gabriel Pageau.
- Tomas Plekanec tries to get his stick in there to poke check, but it is too late as is Brian Gionta's attempt as he does not catch up in time. Pageau shoots it through traffic and it dribbles through in to the Canadiens net and behind Price once more. 6-1 Ottawa.
3rd Scrum Appears:
- Once more, a lack of a complete video of the fights has me calling upon a different source.
- This is pretty much a non-event in terms of importance at this stage of the game but does illustrate the frustration that boils up from being blown out and sometimes how players seem eager to get their 'piece of the action' when fights have already broken out.
- Brendan Gallagher engages Cory Conacher in the battle of the featherweights, but the officials step in before anything is decided.
- Price did not have a good game but this is not like the Montreal-Toronto game where the score more gradually built up, Ottawa racked up 3 goals in the first 7:08 of the 3rd period and by then a circus had already broken out with the line brawl. I would say he owes at least partial fault on the 1st, 2nd and 4th goals of the game. Not entirely but he had a propensity to allow the 1st attempt beat him far too routinely in this playoff series.
- Therrien likely knew that it was fruitless to switch goalies as the game was essentially done when the score suddenly racked up and the Canadiens were not in a position to make a credible comeback.
- Diaz finds himself in a bit of trouble as well, he blocked the initial Gonchar shot for the 1st goal but then did nothing about the puck when it was right in front of him, he seemed to peel off fighting the sting of the shot but at the least he should have made a reach for the puck and try to gain possession for a clear. The 4th goal was not a good effort on his part either as his pinch would lead to the breakout by Ottawa. He also found himself standing still on the 5th goal and essentially let Michalek skate right by him. It was a tough season for Diaz and this game was a stark reminder he is not suited to be a Top-4 defensemen.
- Ryan White is definitely the catalyst for the line brawl, a 4-1 score does not make a happy team but this was not the first time the Canadiens had taken a beating on the scoreboard this season and not gotten into a string of fights. White's screw loose all season had seemed to be a bit tighter for Games 1 and 2, but it only took him a moment to start a gigantic line brawl. His teammates could have been smarter about getting involved but not actually getting involved in fights. Still, Ryan White creates a giant problem because he apparently needed mood altering medication this past year.
- P.K. Subban is not doing himself any favours having a fight like that, he has been accused of faking players out before dropping the gloves to try and gain an edge. He keeps hitting Turris after he is done, which just is not respectable, not that fights really are. I Have to say I was disappointed in Subban here, yes he had been targeted through the series but going after Turris who while Subban is not a fighter, he clearly outclassed him physically and kept throwing punches even when he had Turris down on the ice. Frustration kicked in I understand but this was not a very appropriate finish to a fight on his part.
- Looking at the brawls themeslves, I am not sure what carrying Parros, a healthy White and even having Prust out there might have done. Maybe they each take their fights but that still leaves Smith beating up Bouillon and Tinordi outmatched by Phillips. If you go even further and Maybe some of the results flip but it occurs because Price and the team let themselves get run up on the scoreboard and Therrien skated his most unpredictable player who had previously cost the Canadiens games earlier in the year with his antics.
- Overall the game went out of control on some bad goaltending by Price, some missed defensive cues and Ryan White lacking any sense of impulse control. It is not something I would advocate changing the roster over. The Canadiens were missing 2 players in Eller and Emelin they really could not afford to be without while top wingers like Pacioretty and Gionta were walking wounded. The series was arguably lost on those injuries, this just threw in a touch of humiliation to be so blown out and lose a series of fights that were really meaningless. The game was done, Ottawa had beaten Montreal down where it mattered and where it had and then the fights occurred.
More from Eyes On The Prize:
- The Canadiens lose their line brawls and that's okay, why they happen is not - Part 1
- The Canadiens lose their line brawls and that's okay, why they happen is not - Part 2
- An Eyes on the Prize meetup
- CONTEST: Tell us why you hate or respect Habs rivals and win a True Rivalry tee
- The Great Fighting Debate (and other links)