clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

Ten takeaways from the Canadiens vs Flames game: Smoke and mirrors

The Habs are bad. The Flames are bad. The Flames are bad in the same ways the Habs are bad, but they were much the best team in this contest.

Eric Bolte-USA TODAY Sports

I'm trying to take a break from the negativity...let's see how long that lasts...

1. The Habs started off ok.
At the beginning of the game, it was clear that the Habs came to play. They made a lot of mistakes, but the effort was there to fix them before disaster struck. To be honest, It's not so much that they were good, it's just that after last night, just about anything looked better. Unfortunately, it didn't last, and by the end of the third, they looked pretty defeated. Though to be fair, I thought there was still more effort at the end than there was in last night's game. Again though, not saying much. Side note, surely Plekanec will break his scoring slump soon...right? He had five shots on net in 15:53 of ice time.

2. An inexperienced team
Did you see that bottom six? After that game, they have a grand total of 603 NHL games between them. 402 of them belong to Mike Brown. Excluding Emelin and Markov, the defence combines for a grand total of 200 NHL games, 146 of which belong to Nathan Beaulieu. Mike Condon has 48. I'm not sure whether to be impressed or unhappy.

3. More about the bottom six
They were severely lacking in finish, but both lines spent entire shifts in the offensive zone, and honestly, when the team is doing this badly, any time spent in the offensive zone should be considered a success. They didn't get a lot of shots (four shots from the six of them combined), but they played the Flames hard, and kept them far away from Condon on a number of shifts.

4. Michael McCarron was rewarded for his hard work.
After 14 NHL games, ranging from solid to excellent, McCarron got his first NHL goal. Planting his huge frame in front of Backstrom, he tipped Beaulieu's shot into the net, preventing the Habs from being shut out by a 38-year-old goalie who hadn't played a game in over a year.

5. Darren Dietz and Joel Hanley played together.
Considering that this was only Dietz's fourth, and Hanley's first, NHL game, and that they played 14 minutes without being sheltered in cushy zone stars, or by the presence of a veteran partner, I'd say that it was an outing to be cautiously optimistic about - especially as the mistakes that led to a goal against for the pair had more to do with lack of experience than with lack of ability. Given how injured the Habs' defence is, it's possible that they might actually get some of that needed seasoning.

6. The zone exits were ATROCIOUS.
I know I said I was going to try to be positive, but I really can't ignore this. I mean, Habs zone exits are usually pretty bad, but the top two lines spent three shifts in a row stuck in their own end because they couldn't get past theFlames. Not even because the Flames were so good. The Habs just kept turning the puck over again, and again, and again. It was bad enough when they were winning, and they had P.K. Subban. Now it's just down right awful.

7. Don't even get me started on those turnovers.
Don't. Just don't. It's an absolute epidemic straight through the lineup.

8. Emelin is still looking better than he was.
He made a perfect diving save on Johnny Gaudreau in the second, and he followed that up, a few shifts later, with a good play in front of the net to keep position. His %67.74 CF at even strength was third on the team, and he had four of the team's 22 shots on goal. Granted, the penalty wasn't great, nor was the goal at the end, but still this is Emelin we're talking about, and I'd say the good outweighed the bad.

9. Maybe some day the Habs will get through a game without three or four players sitting on the bench at various points in time, clutching various appendages and grimacing, but that night was not last night.
Last night it was Danault (high hit), Galchenyuk (shoulder), and Condon looked like he wasn't going to start after warmups, after a Greg Pateryn shot hit him high. All three of them finished the game, but so did Sven Andrighetto the night before that. Siri is right. They need to be careful.

10. It was like looking in one of those very flattering mirrors that makes the reflection look much better than the original.
The Flames are also bad, in a lot of the same ways as the Habs. I'm pretty sure they iced the puck a handful of times more than the Habs did, their goaltending isn't great, their systems aren't great, they've got a lot of kids, they've ridden extremely far on luck in the last few years, and they've got some good pieces. It led to a pretty terrible game in which Monahan and Gaudreau outshone Pacioretty and Galchenyuk, and Hamilton outdid Beaulieu. It was brutal.

So much for trying to be positive.