To begin the game, there was an entirely different atmosphere than the end of the 2011-12 season. People were excited to be there, the place was loud 10 minutes before anyone was on the ice. Last season there was a distinct feeling of "I bought these tickets in October, and I couldn't sell them so I'm here".
By the end of the game last season, the fans in the Bell Centre were pretty happy. They laughed like crazy when the Bell Centre put the Leafs' bench on the jumbotron with the bongo drums, and the look of bitter defeat was on their faces. It was a fun night in a nightmarish season.
Last night was filled with Bronx cheers and a half empty arena by late in the second period.
It was so bad in the arena, that during the third period when the Canadiens did their "Pom fan of the game" (you're supposed to cheer between two pictured fans for the one you want to win most, usually a pretty lady or a kid), they were met with stunned silence. There was so little crowd noise, the Bell Centre operators seemed to just pick one at random. It was pathetic.
And I don't blame fans for that. Who's in the mood to cheer when watching the 4th drubbing in 5 games? You have a short memory when you're at a game, and the Canadiens haven't done much for us lately.
When Max Pacioretty converted a Tomas Plekanec pass to break the shutout late in the third, there was loud cheering, but it had the feeling of sarcasm.
Nothing went right for the Canadiens last night, and that comes down to effort level in my opinion. How many puck battles did the Canadiens win last night? I'm guessing somewhere between 3 and 5. Passes either didn't connect, or when they did, bounced off of sticks.
In the defensive zone, when the Canadiens did manage to get ahold of the puck, no one got open to clear the zone. This lack of awareness is what led to the opening goal by Alex Ovechkin, even though it was a shot Carey Price should have stopped.
Price should have stopped the other Ovechkin goal as well, but by that time the game was long over, so it didn't really matter. The back breakers were the two goals by Troy Brouwer, and I have a hard time blaming him for either of them. There's a certain section of Habs fans that want to pin this entirely on goaltending, but the Canadiens have won many games this year where the goaltending didn't save them. This isn't a team that relies on goaltending to win, why is it all on them now?
Braden Holtby on the other side, faced 5 truly challenging shots all night. Three hit the post, one went in, and one was stopped. The Bell Centre claimed he faced 36 shots, but sitting right behind the Capitals' net for two periods, I saw some extreme shot padding going on.
No matter how you look at it, it was more of the same. The disappointing thing is that Therrien put together lines that should work amazingly once given time, but he's already torn them apart and reunited Desharnais and Pacioretty.