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Canadiens vs. Islanders Ten Takeaways: Long Island Iced Tease

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Twenty men in Canadiens uniforms played hockey against the New York Islanders and lost, but the first place Habs were nowhere to be found.

NHL: Montreal Canadiens at New York Islanders Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports

Feel free to disagree, but I don’t like these Islanders jerseys.

I do know people who like it (Kyle for instance) but the black Islanders uniform bugs me. It’s not even that it’s that bad of a jersey, I think I may just be old and I like orange just a little bit too much, but I missed the traditional blue Islanders jersey. I will say this, at least it’s not the Captain Highliner (voted 6th worst hockey jersey of all time by SI.com).

Not many shots by the Habs

In the first frame, Montreal managed merely four shots on net, two apiece for Phillip Danault and Artturi Lehkonen. In that same time, the Islanders launched 14 pucks on Carey Price, who stopped all but one of them. By the game’s end, the Habs upped their shot total to 22, but couldn’t stop New York from firing 42 on the Canadiens’ net.

Secondary team stats no good

Despite a 59% face off advantage for Montreal nearing the halfway point, the Canadiens finished the game with a mere 45% success rate on the dot. The Islanders also dealt more hits and blocked more shots than the Habs. The Corsi For numbers for the game are pretty atrocious also with a total of 40 to the Islanders’ 61 - this was simply an ugly game for the Habs no matter how you slice it.

Webelin has probably run its course

Thursday night, Shea Weber and Alexei Emelin put up bad shot control numbers, and the pair were responsible for a couple of significant defensive breakdowns in their own end. Emelin has survived on the first pairing, and all credit to him for doing so, but at this point it’s becoming clear Weber needs a bit more support there, especially during breakouts. There were a few permutations of defensive pairings through the third period, especially after Beaulieu and Petry also struggled, and the lineup may look different when the Canadiens return to action Tuesday night against the Buffalo Sabres.

Hope Markov is back soon

One player who may be back on the Habs’ blue line soon is veteran Andrei Markov, who will be returning to practice at the beginning of the week.

Markov is the kind of level-headed presence Montreal could certainly benefit from on the back end, and his return will help the defensive depth return to normal.

Scoring Opportunities are slowing down

Shots may have been down significantly Thursday night, but scoring opportunities in general are on the decline for the Canadiens for the last ten games or so.

Whether this is a mid-season slump, fatigue settling in near the All Star break, injuries catching up to the team, or NHL teams adapting to the 2016-17 Canadiens, this trend is far more worrisome than the recent play of the goaltender.

Thoughts of vacation

The last game before the ASG break was a hot mess for the Habs, almost as if everyone had their minds on the beach (or whatever NHL players do on their time off). Despite some negative signs trending over more than a single game, we just have to hope that mental distraction was really the biggest cause for the poor excuse for a hockey game the Canadiens delivered on Thursday.

Andrew Shaw needs to chill out

We like to laugh a lot here at EOTP, but we’re people too, just like hockey players are. Andrew Shaw displayed his temperamental edge again when he lost his cool at the end of the Islanders game. Shaw is undoubtedly a player who needs to be “on the edge” to be at his best, and players who sit on the fence between competitive and compulsively combustible often find themselves losing their grip on the fine line. This is a trend that has followed Shaw throughout his career, and I cannot help but think that Andrew Shaw needs to do something to calm down, if only for his own benefit. He can’t lose that passion, but it may be wise for him to stop going over the edge. There’s almost no chance referees haven’t noticed his frequent outbursts.

Didn’t deserve to win

If you sense a lot of negative feedback in my takeaways, it’s because there really wasn’t much in the glass-half-full department. Some, but not much. Topping off the already embarrassing loss is that the Habs got smacked down by a non-playoff team. The Islanders are actually somewhat hot, having collected six wins in their last 10 games. Over that stretch, they’ve collected 14 of a possible 20 points in the standings. Despite the recent uptick, New York has been a mediocre team so far this season and gave the Canadiens a clinic.

All-Stars playing like All-Stars

I mentioned positives - here’s the big one: Carey Price and Shea Weber are on top of their game, and playing like All-Stars right now. Price may have lost six of his last eight games, but he made 39 saves on Thursday, many of which were more than simple garden variety saves, and he’s done what he can to remove any doubt as to his physical status.

Shea Weber scored his 12th goal of the season, placing him in sole possession of second place for goals by a defenceman (behind Brent Burns’ 21 goals). The goal came on the man advantage, furthering Weber’s lead on the league for powerplay goals; Weber now has ten PPG, Kevin Shattenkirk is second with seven. The goal also vaults Weber into the top ten scoring for blue-liners.

Both men will participate in the All Star Game before returning to Montreal to resume the regular season, and hopefully they keep their magic strong until the Sabres roll into town - we owe them one.