The Canadiens were trounced on Sunday night versus the Rangers, thanks to an endless stream of mistakes by several players. Let's take a look at the play that kicked off the horrible night for the Habs.
On the replay it seems simple enough. Tanner Glass gets a stick on Alex Galchenyuk's clearing attempt, and Dominic Moore reaped the reward. Right? But why is Alex Galchenyuk the last-man back anyhow? Let's take a look.
There's no initial winner on the draw, although Dominic Moore's second swat at the puck is successful, and gives Jesper Fast an opportunity to beat Alex Galchenyuk to the loose puck.
As Galchenyuk pressures Fast, Moore sheds his coverage from Plekanec. Tanner Glass is wide open, due to Brendan Gallagher's first step on the faceoff being in the wrong direction. That being said, this is definitely an innocuous play at this stage. Tom Gilbert and Bryan Allen are set up perfectly to force a dump in, or collapse in front of Dustin Tokarski, removing any possibilities for high end scoring chance.
But that's no fun! What's fun is trying to deliver a meaningless big hit to a player that had already passed the puck. Hits can be useful, especially when they separate a player from the puck. In this case however, taking yourself out of position is a terrible call. A terrible call that Bryan Allen doesn't hesitate to make.
Glass sees that Gilbert is properly playing the puck, and not the man. There is no other option for him but to send the puck on net, hoping to capitalize on the confusion caused by Allen's attempt at a big hit.
Dustin Tokarski gives up a questionable rebound, forcing Alex Galchenyuk to hustle towards the loose puck. Unfortunately, Galchenyuk swats the puck towards the goalie, as opposed to sending it towards the corner. Glass helps him along by deflecting the puck ever so slightly.
At this point, Tom Gilbert is distracted by a rat holding a Fench horn, and decides to start skating towards the back of the net. Tomas Plekanec does a very lazy job of covering Dominic Moore, who like any good hockey player, simply went to the net with the hopes that the puck would find him.
The result is an easy goal for Dominic Moore, with four Montreal Canadiens players surrounding him.
It would be unfair to pin everything that went wrong with this play on Allen. He's not forcing Plekanec to leave a huge gap in his coverage, nor did he force Gallagher to start skating the wrong way off the faceoff, and it's definitely not his fault Gilbert decided to head towards the back of the net.
However, he did send the defensive coverage into mass confusion by attempting to lay down a big hit, and that's really the catalyst of this play. If he keeps skating backwards, and plays a conservative game, this goal probably never happens. To be fair, Allen does eliminate an attacking player, and logically the forwards should have had enough time to pick up on his decision to make a hit.
This is a similar situation to when people blame Subban for trying to make a big hit, although Subban has the foot speed to recover, and he rarely tries to hit someone that already got rid of the puck. No matter whether or not the hit is considered a smart decision, if the forwards don't react to the coverage void, bad things will happen. In this particular case, the forwards had more than enough time to adapt to the evolving play.
It's perhaps too early to judge Bryan Allen's work for the Canadiens, considering he's only played in two games. With the small sample size in mind, Allen's results have been flat out horrible.
He's managed to create a huge negative in his even-strength Corsi numbers, to the tune of -17. His poor performances in his first two games gives him the honour of being dead last among Habs defenders in terms of Fenwick Rel% (-5.56%). Where does Nathan Beaulieu, the player who lost his spot to Allen, rank on this list? You guessed it. First. There's no doubt in my mind that Nathan Beaulieu should be on this roster, in the place of a lesser player like Allen.
Besides, isn't the knock on Beaulieu that he's not reliable in his own zone? At 21, he has plenty of time to learn play better defensive hockey, but the good news is that he doesn't have a penchant for putting himself out of position with useless hits on players that don't have the puck.
Even if we know Allen is not going to progress very much, we'll have to give him a few more games before we really put fuel on the campaign to return Beaulieu to the Canadiens, where he belongs. That's just the way it goes in hockey, you have to give a player a chance to prove himself, even if the odds are very low that a 34-year-old player will suddenly become a better defender.
I should reiterate that this particular goal was not 100% Bryan Allen's fault. Yes, he started it off on the wrong foot, but the forwards had enough time to recover from Allen taking himself out position.