Well that didn't take long... With less than half of the first period gone, the newly signed Alex Steen had already potted two goals to the Canadiens zero. Then with about seven minutes left on the clock, Chris Stewart made it three and the rout was on. The first was really, really bad. I cringed at the thought of checking extra skater for some fancy stats, but did anyways after the horn went. The Habs went 42.9% Corsi and 36.4% Fenwick. That combined with serious defensive zone coverage lapses should sufficiently explain a three goal deficit.
In the second, things seemed to get a bit better. The Habs were finally generating a little pressure and killed off a Brendan Gallagher penalty quite expertly. Then a Douglas Murray shift happened, sticking the Habs in their own zone for what seemed like an eternity, and things turned crappy again. After that the Habs seemed to wake up a bit and start actually playing hockey. Brendan Gallagher Did some of his usual stellar net crashing, breaking up Halak's shutout bid, and giving us all hope that a third period akin to that against Phoenix would win us the game.
I mentioned that the team seemed to wake up a bit. I should also mention that it was not near enough to get them back to positive possession for the game. The even strength numbers actually weren't the worst ever. The thing about that is Montreal spent a lot more time in the box than their opponents. Some of those were deserved, but the officiating was pretty poor overall last night if you ask me. The sad part about this is that the Penalty Kill was amazing last night and seemed to spend an abnormal amount of time in the Blues' end even for a team that kills penalties as well as this one.
The third period in it's beginnings was giving me some real hope. The Habs got a powerplay, which wasn't great but at least they maintained some possession in the offensive zone. (Side note, it's sad that this alone is enough to give me hope these days.) They seemed to actually play a lot better as this period went on, and I started having warm, fuzzy, Phoenix like feelings.
Those feelings were much ado about nothing though, as some poor neutral zone decision making by Andrei Markov allowed for a two on one, with T.J. Oshie sliding the puck to Jaden Schwartz for the insurance marker. You'd figure at that point the game is pretty much over, right? Well Douglas Murray would disagree with you if you think that, as he felt it entirely necessary to give Maxim Lapierre a free goal against his former team to make it an extra annoying five to one.
I'm going to take a moment now to talk about how annoyed I am; not only that Douglas Murray gets dressed and plays for my team, but that he's even signed as a member of the club. He is entirely useless, and is a black hole of suck that not only hurts the team by playing, but drags down anyone who is on the ice at the same time as him. Carey Price didn't deserve to have four goals scored on him last night, let alone a fifth given away by "crankshaft." Being that his trade value is a big fat zilch, I'd love to see him go to waivers, or at least be scratched for the rest of the year. How both Jarred Tinordi and Nathan Beaulieu are plugging away in Hamilton, while he consistently finds ways to be terrible, is so far beyond me that I'd require a spaceship to get there.
Now I'd like to talk about Carey Price. He's being hung out to dry lately and it's entirely unfair to him. He deserves better from his team and he's just not getting it. This is a guy who I think should be in the conversation for the Vezina AND the Hart trophy if the Habs do make the playoffs, as they should. If the team keeps putting forth zero effort in front of him, they might even wind up ruining his shot at an award. That says a lot about how bad the team is playing right now. Price is the best player on this team right now, he'll be the starting goaltender in Sochi for Canada, (book it) and he's right there with P.K. Subban in terms of deserving the "franchise player" tag.
I was watching the extra skater stats throughout the game, and they were really ugly. At one point in the second the Habs were an abysmal 32% Corsi and 31% Fenwick. At game's end things weren't that bad, but still really bad based on where this team should be. They finished the game at 45.8% Corsi and 46.3% Fenwick. Something serious is going to have to happen soon to turn things around, and I'm not sure that I have a definitive answer on what that thing is.
After what we thought was a potential turnaround win against Phoenix, the boys came out and put up another total stinker. I wish I could be a member of the Montreal media right now so I could ask Michel Therrien some questions. Questions like why in god's name he's employing a dump and chase strategy that is taught to players in Tyke? Why is Douglas Murray a better option than Jarred Tinordi or Nathan Beaulieu? Why is Murray even considered viable at all? I have many questions, and the final one would probably be; how long do you figure you've got before you're fired?
I get that this is a pretty long recap, and I'm getting to the point where it could be described as a rant. But maybe I'm just holding out that someone important in the Habs organization reads this and realizes how the fan base is feeling at this point. We're frustrated, we don't understand it, and we definitely don't feel that this group of players should be struggling like this. Feel free to lambaste me in the comment section if you're a fan and are upset with my use of the word "we," but I somehow doubt that any Habs fan as ardent as I would feel any different.
The team's record as of late isn't actually all that horrible, thanks entirely to Carey Price. The problem is that the on ice product aside from Price is embarrassing. I'm inclined to put that on the coaching staff, while I can't deny that some players are under-performing. I, however believe that this team has enough skilled players that if they're put in a position to succeed, they will. That's what a coach's job is. I've lost faith in Michel Therrien and I've really been trying not to. I always liked him, as he coached the Habs when I was a young boy and him coming back gave me some nostalgic feelings. Those are gone in the same way that I'm starting to want him to be.
I'd like to know if Marc Bergevin would be open to the idea of a coach-by-committee sort of thing where the Habs are run entirely by EOTP writers and members. I am joking, but everything I know about hockey, in correlation with what he's doing, tells me that we all know more about it than he does. I could be wrong, but trying to make sense of the Habs right now is like trying to solve a rubix cube with no fingers. It vexes me. I am terribly vexed.
For reaction from the winning side, check out St.Louis Game Time.