Canadiens vs Leafs - Game Recap - History repeats itself
It happens every year, but it doesn't stop it from being annoying. The Habs dropped their first game of the year against the Leafs, but it wasn't all bad.
I guess we should burn it all down. The Canadiens lost to the Maple Leafs in the first game of the season and that means they obviously suck.
Or, it's just one game and the Canadiens actually outplayed the Leafs heavily at even strength. Don't believe me? Well timeonice.com isn't working yet, but MathMan ran some numbers on Twitter last night:
#Habs #fancystats : FenClose 29-18 (61.7%), FenTied 11-9 (55%), FenTotal 43-26 (62.3%). Montreal was outscored 2-1 5-on-5. #leafsgonnaleaf— Mathieu Roy (@Le_Matheux) October 2, 2013
What this means is that the Canadiens carried the play, heavily, when the teams both had 5 skaters on the ice. This is backed up by the Habs outshooting Toronto 31-20 at even strength, the puck bounced better for the Leafs though.
Cam Charron over at The Leafs Nation credits Toronto's skill at drawing penalties (read: diving, because they did, a lot), but outside of the first goal, which was really the result of Tomas Plekanec taking a bad penalty, the Leafs didn't do their damage on the powerplay. Cam has a good point that the powerplays have defensive value as well, because your opponent isn't attacking, but it was such a thrashing at evens that the game really came down to two bad bounces.
A Raphael Diaz shot bounced off of a shin pad and right to Mason Raymond, which caused a two-on-one break, Raymond tried to pass the puck across, but it bounced off of Francis Bouillon and back to him. By then though, the damage was done. Carey Price had to react to the pass, there's no choice there, and he was just out of position enough for Raymond to score.
And speaking of Price, if you're ragging on him, you need to pay more attention to hockey games. Price and his Leaf counterpart James Reimer were excellent last night. Those two kept what looked like an 8-7 game down to a 4-3 game. A good follow on twitter, @imisssaku summed it up perfectly last night:
I've seen detractors of both Reimer and Price tonight... They're the reason the game wasn't embarrassing. Teams were sloppy, they werent.— imisssaku (@imisssaku) October 2, 2013
I don't usually separate things like this, but for this game I think it's kind of necessary; let's do the good, the bad, and the ugly.
Lars Eller. Even if he didn't dominate every shift he'd still be in this category, but he did dominate. He was excellent on both sides of the puck, the best player on every line he was put on. His 2 goal, 3 point performance was the best of any player in the game.
P.K. Subban. Is there anything he can't do? The Leafs were afraid to take the puck near him, and for good reason. Subban's Corsi on the night? 71.1%. Corsi close? 81.5%. Corsi tied? 79.1%. Fenwick? 72.9%. Fenwick close? 79.2%. Fenwick tied? 85.7%. He is an animal.
Carey Price. Extremely sharp all night, and constantly battling for pucks. Save percentage doesn't matter in this one.
The EGG line. They ran roughshod over the Leafs, and they're only going to get better.
Brandon Prust. Looked like his pre-injury self, and filled in well while Pacioretty was in the dressing room.
Player usage. It's the same problems as last year. The worst center in the lineup got the most ice time tonight, even if it was by a hair. David Desharnais looked fine in preseason, but he was horrible last night. The phrase "tossed around like an empty Kleenex box" is becoming far too easy to attribute to him. Right away you could tell he wasn't engaged, as he had two opportunities to take hits to make plays, and both times he retreated and gave up the puck without so much as sneezing at his checker.
Francis Bouillon on the powerplay. Not Bouillon himself, he was fine, even good. He is not an offensive defenseman. Michel Therrien and Gerard Gallant need to realize this. If you don't want to double-shift Subban or Andrei Markov there, use a forward. The play dies on his stick too often.
No P.K. on the PK. Subban played the most minutes on the team with 24:41. That's a good thing. Dion Phaneuf played a hair over 27 minutes. Does anyone believe that Subban can't do the same? Does anyone believe that the 4:36 Markov played on the PK wouldn't be better off going to Subban? Therrien explained that he didn't want Subban playing those tough minutes, I call bullshit. That's what he does. You don't want Markov playing those minutes, because he's 34 and will break down over the year.
Discipline. As I mentioned in the SB Nation NHL Season Preview, this is a gigantic problem with Therrien's Canadiens. Yes, the Leafs dove all night, but so does every team, every night. The Habs need to stop giving the other team easy powerplays. They gave Toronto 11:36 on the powerplay last night. That's 20% of the damn game!! Doesn't matter how good you are at even strength, if you do that you're not going to win many games.
Max Pacioretty's wrist. He returned to the game and played reasonably well, but Pacioretty jammed his wrist early in the game and had to get it wrapped up. He looked pretty uncomfortable on the bench too. That is really, really bad.
It was an accident, it was neither player's fault, and it might be tragic. In the end it was unfortunate, and unnecessary. We can debate about fighting's place in the game until we're blue in the face, but what really matters now is that George Parros makes a full recovery. He was diagnosed with a concussion, but was also conscious and alert when he arrived at the hospital.
I must admit though, that I'm getting very fatigued with watching players be stretchered off of Bell Centre ice. We couldn't even get five games since the last one. Get well George.
Check out the winning side at Pension Plan Puppets.