Less than 24 hours after posting a shootout loss to the Ducks, the Canadiens were in Los Angeles for a date with the Kings. As the playoffs become more and more of a pipe dream, fans and management were looking for any sort of positive to cling to on yet another brutal Western road trip.
Image Credit: HockeyStats.ca
And it certainly didn't come early. Max Pacioretty went down after a hard hit in the offensive zone, losing a skate blade and unable to get back in the play. As he struggled to get back to the bench, the Kings took the puck the other way, and Alec Martinez wired one home from the point to take the lead less than two minutes in.
Still under five minutes in, Jeff Carter won an offensive zone faceoff, and it was immediately jumped on by Tanner Pearson. The latter made use of a screen to beat Ben Scrivens and make it 2-0, and the rout seemed to be on.
The first shot on goal for the Canadiens didn't come until four seconds before the 10 minute mark of the first period. It was a rather terrible period, but somehow they managed to slow the bleeding. Late in the period, the Kings gave P.K. Subban way too much space at the blueline, so he walked in and blasted one home to make it 2-1.
There was nothing much to speak of in the second period. At one point there was a full two minutes of four-on-four hockey, and the Kings spent the entire two in the offensive zone. Somehow, the Habs were able to escape unscathed, and inexplicably made it to the third period with only a one goal deficit.
The Canadiens were able to mount a decent offensive attack at the outset of the third, but it would quickly become all for naught. Dwight King was able to steal the puck from Subban at centre ice, then walked into the Canadiens zone and beat Ben Scrivens through the five-hole.
Enter Lars Eller to give the team a little hope. He took a zone entry pass from P.K. Subban with just over five minutes left in the game, and walked in to fire a weird bouncing shot that fooled Jonathan Quick. 3-2 Kings, and the Canadiens had a little more than a quarter-period to tie things up.
Eller cuts the lead to 1. pic.twitter.com/BxP8GEaPHq— Marc Dumont (@MarcPDumont) March 4, 2016
Scrivens would be pulled for the extra attacker, but the Canadiens couldn't even get set up in the Kings zone to present a real threat to tie the game. And so ended yet another horrendous trip to the West coast, with a 3-2 loss to the Kings.
Usually I write this section of the recap in point form, but I'm not going to do that today because I'm quite frustrated. In the most perplexing of decisions, Michel Therrien decided to dress Mike Brown instead of Sven Andrighetto. Why not ice the same lineup that took the red-hot Ducks all the way to a shootout the night before? I'm not sure
Brown spent basically every minute of ice time he was given trying to do one thing; fight. Is that really what this team needs right now? What this team needs is to try and develop young players like Andrighetto. It is imperative to develop assets right now, and that the coaching staff doesn't see it is maddening.
Remember Marc Bergevin's comment about Michel Therrien being the guy he wants next to him in a foxhole? Well if we stick to the foxhole analogy, Therrien is detonating grenades so close to the foxhole that he's severely damaging its structural integrity. Best kick him out before it caves in and buries the occupants alive.
I'm not even saying any of this out of some misplaced sense that the team should be winning. It has become painfully obvious that this team isn't making the playoffs. That said, this coach is sabotaging the future of the club with some of his decisions.
I can swallow losing because it has become the norm, and serves only to improve the team's draft position. I'm over it. What I can't, and won't get over is icing Mike Brown over a legitimate prospect. Look at what the Leafs are doing; they're losing too, but they are at least getting their young players out there for evaluation and development. It just makes sense.
P.K. Subban would be an easy scapegoat for the loss due to the giveaway that led to the third Kings goal. That would conveniently ignore the fact that he scored one goal, and provided the primary assist on the other. But as sure as I am sitting here at 1:05 AM typing this sentence, there will be those who only remember the one fall in a two-point performance.
To blame Subban is to ignore the real problems: The maddening coaching decisions, the abysmal power play, the constant struggle to gain the offensive zone, the fact that they only managed 15 shots on net. There are tons of problems with the Canadiens right now, and P.K. Subban is not one of them.
I'll give credit where credit is due; at least on this occasion, Therrien didn't throw him under the bus.
Until Marc Bergevin wakes up and smells the coffee that is his coach's litany of errors, this team will not improve. They won't improve now, and they won't improve next year. Unless Carey Price comes back and drags them to the playoffs, we could be in the exact same position a year from now. That would be a travesty, and it can't possibly be allowed.
Next up the team heads to Winnipeg to face the Jets on Saturday. I'm not sure what to expect, but if Michel Therrien is going to sit real, young talent for the likes of Mike Brown again, I'm not sure I'll even be able to watch.
That says a whole lot, because I still haven't missed a game yet this season.