Five questions on the Habs loss vs Thrashers
I didn't have a chance to watch last night's game, due to prior commitments. I was aware of the Montreal Canadiens 3-0 loss, to the Atlanta Thrashers, before I went to bed.
Much like a traffic accident, I just couldn't help myself and threw on NHL GameCenter this morning. There's two hours I wish I got back.
What an embarassment for the visiting squad, throwing Alex Auld under the bus to face 47 shots. For the second game this week, the Canadiens forgot to play a full 60 minutes.
Instead of a regular breakdown, with most assesments out, I'll throw up five questions on the game.
1. Did the Canadiens underestimate the Thrashers?
Absolutely. This is not a pushover team like the city's first NHL franchise, the Flames, from the '70s. The Thrashers have 11 forst round draft picks on their roster, so there is a lot of talet there.
They also made some serious upgades in the off season, notably Dustin Byfuglien, Andrew Ladd, Ben Eager and Brent Sopel. That foursome know what it takes to win, as they all played on the Chicago Blackhawks during last season's Cup run.
Atlanta proved what they were made of earlier in the week, defeating a legitimate Cup contender in the Detrout Red Wings soundly just two days prior.
2. Did Craig Ramsey out school Jacques Martin?
I wouldn't say the student out coached his Ottawa teacher, but the Thrashers made it look that way. They dominated on the faceoff circle 34-21, which is pretty much the key to Martin's puck possesion philosophy.
The Canadiens discipline level was also thrown out the window, conceding a season high eight minor penalties. Four came in the second period, and three in the last 20 minutes.
Penalties means less chances to control the puck, and the four shots in the second period were proff of that.
The Thrashers used their speed (surprisinly faster than Montreal) over the Canadiens, often dumping using a dump and chase method to get around the slower Habs defense.
As pathetic as the Canadiens power play has been this season, the Thrashers played it smart and limited them to just three opportunities with the man advantage.
Montreal did get thier opportunities, but either had shots blocked (16 total, Brian Gionta had six) or were stopped by Ondrej Pavelec, who is clearly the team's MVP thus far.
3. How good was Alex Auld?
For a guy who has had just one game under his belt up until Friday, Auld played a solid game.
But from a technical aspect, and our Chris Boyle may or may not agree, the three goals can't really resulted in turnovers and positioning problems on Auld's part.
The first goal resulted from a game of follw the bouncing puck, off the stick of Hal Gill, that eventually found the stick of Rich Peverley. Auld may have been prematurely anticipating the puck to move out front. That decision allowed his right pad to leave the post, and letting the puck slip in.
Tobias Enstrom's goal looked like a flutter ball. The thrashers defenceman took a Josh Gorges turnover and just lobbed it toward the net. Evander Kane may have screened him a bit, but Auld standing practically on the goal line didn't help him.
Peverley's second on the night came on the power play, where he took advantage of the Habs being more focused on Byfuglien. Positioning again caught Auld, playing midway in the crease and allowing just enough room for Peverley to rip one off the short side post.
Bottom line is the Canadiens offense gave Auld nothing in return to work with, so in light of the analysis you can't put that loss on the goalie.. I'm certain that Carey Price was thinking "Welcome to my world."
4. Did P.K. Subban try an Avery, as the home town announcers suggested?
The "fight" between P.K. Subban and Zach Bogosian resulted from Subban trying to restrain the Thrashers defenseman from a scrum near the Montreal crease.
Bogosian was all set to go, but Subban wanted no part. That was until Bogosian ripped Subban's helmet off hs head. The Atlanta crew felt that Subban tried to throw a sucker punch, but once the helmet came off, Subban was nodding his head as if to say. "OK you're on." I guess they also missed that Subban tried an upper cut before throwing a second punch.
The Atlanta announcers did get one thing right, Bogosian should have been called for instigating.
5. Where is the consistency on the Canadiens?
Arpon Basu calls it a troubling behavioural pattern, to which Mike Boone summarized as, "Crap against Nashville, dominant against the Leafs, crap against Philadelphia, dominant against L.A. and then crap again in Atlanta."
Both are right, and for a team to be a playoff contender, they can't continue at this pace. It's still November, but you don't want trends like that to pop up on a regular basis the rest of the way. .500 hockey will not get you to the playoffs.
The Habs have yet to lose two straight more than once, but up and down play such as this doesn't make it any better.
Eleven goals in their last six games is not helping them either.
You could point the travel schedule on the team's up and down performance, but that's really no excuse.
They'll get a chance for redemption at home tonight against the Buffalo Sabres,
From the Thrashers side: at Bird Watchers Anonymous