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Ten takeaways from Canadiens vs. Rangers: Finally hitting rock bottom

A loss to the New York Rangers officially eliminated the Montreal Canadiens from the playoffs.

Jean-Yves Ahern-USA TODAY Sports

1. The first goal wasn't Alexei Emelin's fault.

Let's get one thing straight, that first goal wasn't on Alexei Emelin. Emelin made a great, clean hit to absolutely destroy Derek Stepan, and while he did take himself out of position, he was covered.

If anything, it just created a one-on-one situation with Andrei Markov back to defend against J.T. Miller. This was a routine play, that the Markov should have had no trouble defending against. Unfortunately, Markov blotched it and the puck ended up behind Condon to give the Rangers the early lead.

2. The Canadiens are a nightmare in their own zone.

The Habs continue to look discombobulated in their own end. The Rangers were easily hemming the Canadiens in and forcing them to ice the puck all game long. Montreal's decimated back end is a far cry from the one they had started the season with, but with Subban, Petry, Gilbert, Bartley and Barberio all out for the time being with an assortment of injuries, Therrien will have to figure out how make do with defensemen that they have.

3. Lars Eller and Phillip Danault were the only bright spots in this game.

Lars Eller broke his seven game goalless streak by scoring his 12th goal of the season, while Phillip Danault scored his second goal as a member of the Montreal Canadiens. Both goals were scored near the Rangers' crease - a location where the Canadiens had trouble getting to and shooting from, all game long.

4. It had to be Chris Kreider.

Anyone could have scored for New York. It could have been Nash, it could have been Staal but it had to be him. And it had to be against Montreal. Public enemy number one a.k.a. Chris Kreider wasted no time renewing hostilities with the city of Montreal, scoring two goals in his team's victory.

5. Montreal's power play was absolutely brutal.

Coming into this game, the New York Rangers possessed the 28th ranked penalty kill in the league. The Canadiens on the other hand, received six power plays on the night (which included three consecutive power plays to start the third period). One would think that this was a perfect opportunity for the Canadiens to jump start their struggling power play.
Instead, the Habs had exactly zero goals to show for it. Worse yet, the Canadiens only managed to put up 5 shots on net during the entirety of the 3 minor penalties the Rangers took to start the third period (to put it in perspective, the Rangers were able to get 2 shots on net during the same time span). In fact over their six power plays, the Habs only put 8 shots in total on net.

This is not a new problem for this team, but it is one that the team steadfastly refuses to fix.

6. Speaking of which, why is Alex Galchenyuk being used as a net front presence?

At one point during the man advantage, the Canadiens' hottest forward was being used to screen Antti Raanta. Montreal's leading goal scorer was used in a position where he could not even get his shot off. This was just one of many confusing personnel choices employed on the man advantage.

7. Corsi heroes and Corsi zeros.

Nathan Beaulieu and Greg Pateryn quietly had a good game. The Canadiens controlled 61.11% of even-strength shot attempts while this defensive duo was on the ice. Nathan Beaulieu in particular, had the highest positive Corsi differential on the team despite logging a little over 24 minutes (only Markov and Emelin had more ice time among defenseman) and recorded an assist as well.

On the flip side, the Pacioretty-Galchenyuk-Byron line was an absolute disaster. Montreal's first line was getting caved in possession wise, with the Rangers controlling over 75% of even-strength shot attempts while the trio was on the ice.

8. Poor Mike Condon.

Yes he gave up five goals and yes some of those goals were questionable in nature but this loss is not entirely on him. It's important to remember that Condon started this season as a rookie goaltender who was supposed to serve as a back up for Carey Price.

Yet through no fault of his own, he was forced into a situation where he had to sub in for the reigning league MVP. Michel Therrien's system, and the plethora of injuries suffered by the Canadiens since, haven't done Condon any favours either. Knowing all this, it's hard not to feel sympathy towards the young goalie when he was pulled at the beginning of the third period.

9. The Bell Centre faithful were not impressed.

And it's hard to blame them. It's one thing to lose but it's another to look completely out of it. The Canadiens looked listless out there and the crowd really let them have it. Canadiens prospect Magnus Nygren recently mentioned in an interview that in Montreal, "you play for pride more than anything else; for the badge on your chest".

The Montreal Canadiens who took to the ice against the New York Rangers yesterday, didn't seem to play that way. And if this is how the Habs are going to perform during the handful of games left in the season, expect the boos to continue raining down.

10. The Montreal Canadiens have officially been eliminated from the playoffs.

A season that started off with so much promise met such an inglorious end. The Canadiens were supposed to be championship contenders but their playoff hopes took slow and steady hits until it was no more. Could adjustments have been made to prevent this? Yes. Were those adjustments made in time? No. The lack of changes all but ensured that the Habs would hit rock bottom.

But the good thing about hitting rock bottom is that there is no where to go but up.