Game 42 Recap: Habs Haven't Turned A Corner
The score tonight was pretty kind to the Habs, considering it probably should have been 3-0 after one period.
Although the score was close for nearly 35 minutes of play, the game was never really within the grasp of the Montreal Canadiens as the St. Louis Blues controlled the play from the drop of the puck. impeccable passing and pressure on the puck carrier and a great puck possession system showed why the Blues are an elite NHL team this season.
Watching the Blues play was a bitter pill for us over at EOTP because of the similarity in how they and the Habs play when healthy (and under a different coach) are many. The game was basically a showcase of what the Habs could have and should have been this season.
Despite what many lazy people will write to hit deadlines tonight, Jaroslav Halak was a complete non-factor in his team's 3-0 shutout win. Aside from the first shot he faced, a breakaway by Tomas Plekanec, Halak wasn't really tested and never had to make a great save.
For the Blues, David Backes and Chris Stewart lead the way with physical play on the boards and two points each. Alex Pietrangelo also stood out on the Blues' blueline with some heads up plays.
The most impressive line of the night suffered from some bad luck tonight, as Tomas Plekanec, Brian Gionta and Mike Cammalleri all finished -2, as did Hal Gill and Alexei Emelin.
Frustratingly, Gionta seemed re-injure his groin in the third and showed some emotion in storming down the tunnel and throwing his stick in rage. Too see Gionta that worked up is worrying as the Habs have looked a lot better with him playing. The Canadiens are saying it is an upper body injury, but the way Gionta reacted suggests otherwise.
Tonight was also a stark reminder that the Habs haven't turned an imaginary corner on the way to surging towards the playoffs. A couple good games against lower end teams like the Tampa Bay Lightning and Winnipeg Jets are not a good test of where the team is. The upcoming game against the Boston Bruins will likely be similarly frustrating as they also fit into the elite possession clubs in the NHL (Boston is 4th, St. Louis is 2nd).
The only highlights of the game tonight for the Habs were a few saves by Price, a whopping 9 shot attempts by P.K. Subban, a couple few by Emelin, Subban, and Andrei Kostitsyn and some stellar play by Tomas Plekanec.
Lars Eller also had a few spirited plays, but his line was torn to shreds at even strength by the Blues in terms of possession and scoring chances.
Perhaps Cunneyworth fans have an explanation for where his lauded forecheck and offensive system went against a good team.
Three Stars: 1) Jaroslav Halak 2) David Backes 3) Jason Arnott
Advanced stats: Shift Charts / Head to Head / Corsi and Fenwick
Next up is the Bruins over at Stanley Cup of Chowder