Last night the Canadiens continued a tradition under the Jacques Martin era in Montreal; defying what all mathematical trends tell us should happen. This is the third season now of the Canadiens inexplicably playing the opposite game. In 2009-10 they were horrible with and without the puck and somehow were successful in making the playoffs and going deep. Since then the team has turned a corner, playing an excellent puck possession game, but losing games they should win.
This season they look to be a better team than last year in every measurable way, yet they still can't catch a break.
After a game where the calls went against them in Manhattan, the Habs played an extremely disciplined game, while getting the benefit of several weak calls called against the Oilers. Unfortunately for Montreal, the penalty kill was the only time of the game where the Oilers played well last night.
Their aggressive PK kept most of the Habs PP shots to the outside, and over five powerplays Montreal only managed a measly 3 shots, while giving up 2 shorthanded shots and a goal to Ryan Jones.
At even strength was where the Habs really held the advantage, with a shot count of 26-7. It was a game where everything pointed towards a Canadiens win, but it just didn't work.
Erik Cole continues to be snake bitten in spite of creating chances on nearly every shift, while captain Brian Gionta is still struggling a bit to find his game.
Scoring Summary from NHL.com
Although he only faced 13 shots, you can't really put much blame on Price for the loss. Jones' goal was one we see all too often on Price, as Chris Boyle pointed out in the game thread comments, but moments later he stopped Ryan Smyth pulling the same move. The game winner was a bad luck bounce off of a defenseman that he had no chance on. It's unfortunate that the Oilers could never really muster any pressure, as Price looked keyed in from the drop of the puck, and a few big stops could have built the kind of momentum this team thrives on.
Max Pacioretty pulled the team within one with just 3:10 left in the third period, 22 seconds after Tom Gilbert's lucky bounce eventual game winner. It's one of those sequences of events that just make you throw up your hands in frustration. Tomas Plekanec and P.K. Subban drew assists on the play.
With Price on the bench, Ryan Smyth iced the game with an empty net goal with 43 seconds left to go.
With yet another loss it's all too tempting for frustrated fans to look for someone to blame, and more than often that outlet is Jacques Martin, but I think we need to put that one to bed. With the way the Canadiens drove the play last night, even with Andrei Kostitsyn out, it's clear he employed a near perfect strategy against the Oilers. You can debate small lineup tweaks until you're blue in the face, but Mathieu Darche playing 5:14 on the powerplay last night is not the reason they lost.
Hopefully Alexei Emelin's extremely low ice time last night, just 10:44, isn't indicative of Raphael Diaz staying in the lineup. Emelin played a smart game and was extremely noticeable when on the ice for all the right reasons. Diaz on the other hand still looks like he's handling a hand grenade instead of a puck half the time.
Yannick Weber finished a -2 on two bad luck plays, reminding us why the +/- stat is so flawed.
Aaron Palushaj was called up from Hamilton for the upcoming road trip. Here's hoping that's just a precautionary measure with Kostitsyn and Scott Gomez getting close to return to the lineup.
Three Nikolai Khabibulin 2. Ryan Jones 3. Mike Cammalleri: 1.
Olivier Bouchard's post game analysis
Mike Boone's About Last Night
Lions in Winter's dome hockey team
Mitch Melnick's Good, Bad and Ugly
Perspective from the winning side at The Copper & Blue