Habs scoring drought continues, after loss to Caps
Checking through my Twitter account this morning, I came across a tweet that got my attention. "Bob Fillion, dans le Salon des Anciens hier soir, se rappellait ces 3 jeux blancs in 1949, avec Maurice Richard."
Fillion, one of the oldest alumni of the Montreal Canadiens, was a checking forward with the club back in the 1940's and won two Stanley Cups with them in 1944 and 1946.
The 1949-50 season was his last in the NHL. The Canadiens did not get off to a great start, going 4-4-2 in their first ten games. Sandwiched in between were three games in which Montreal failed to record a goal, a 0-0 tie with the Boston Bruins then losses of 2-0 and 1-0 to the Toronto Maple Leafs and Detroit Red Wings respectively.
The Canadiens would fail to score in nine games that season. They still managed to take second place in the six-team league, thanks to their top offence led by Maurice Richard and the goaltending of Bill Durnan and Gerry McNeil. Unfortunately they fell 4 games to 1 to the New York Rangers in the semi finals.
Fillion, would not return to the Canadiens the following season, and retired after playing one year in the QSHL.
Sixty years later after playing his last pro game, the 89 year-old native of Thetford Mines was sitting in the Canadiens Alumni Lounge watching the club do a repeat of what he played in back in October of 1949.
But that's where the comparisons end. The Canadiens clubs of Fillion's era played with passion and desire. The 2010-11 edition, well they're just playing like....I'll let you fill in the blank.
The current Habs squad has failed to record a goal in three straight games, after losing 2-0 to the Washington Capitals.
After the 7-0 beating on Thursday, at the hands of the Bruins, the Canadiens came out of Friday's practice and team meeting with some positive goals. Getting players to drive the net, and in front of the opposing goalie were two key concerns that the team had to address. After all, when a goalie can see everything, it certainly makes his job a hell of a lot easier, right?
Could the Habs use that strategy against the Capitals, missing their captain Alex Ovechkin, and relying on goalie Braden Holtby, who just arrived in Montreal at 2am?
You would suspect they would, but the effort got off to a bad start when a turnover allowed Marco Sturm to score just 1:34 into the game.
From there the Canadiens offense just sputtered, managing just three shots on Holtby in the first 20 minutes. Of course, the home team didn't help themselves, by taking three minor penalties in the period, the first two almost back-to-back. Those kind of
In total, the Habs managed a season low 18 shots on Holtby, who recorded his second whitewash of the season. Maltby's playing style is a very confident, calm, cool style to his Canadiens counterpart, Carey Price. With Michal Neuvirth and Semyon Varlamov ahead of him on the Caps depth chart, it will be interesting to see where he stands come next season. Holtby was sent back to Hershey on this morning.
Then again, when the Canadiens didn't do what they said they needed to, there is no real pressure on the goalie. As Mike Boone said today, "Braden Holtby will never have an easier shutout than last night’s. Like Ryan Miller and Tim Thomas this week, Holtby was under absolutely zero duress."
Price did everything he could to give his team a chance to win, making 31 saves on the night and earning the First Star on the fan vote.
The Habs netminder kept his team in it, but they could not do likewise for him. With under four minutes left to play, the Habs raced to avoid the icing. The pass back to the point was missed and the Capitals regained control in the neutral zone. Niklas Backstrom and Alexander Semin slipped past the Habs defence at the blue line and the latter potted his 26th of the season behind Price.
The Canadiens netminder was rather frustrated after the loss, and no one can blame him for it. Much like Andrei Markov's reported calling out of Price last season, perhaps it's time for him to do likewise with his teammates.
Then again the Bell Centre crowd pretty much did that for him, and are now to the point where Scott Gomez is booed whenver he touches the puck. Wake up call for Mr. Gomez.
Jacques Martin, who is also now on the fans chopping block, elected to schedule a team practice this morning to work further on the fundamentals of , how his goalie put it, "getting bodies to the front of the net and simply throwing everything at the net." That or he just bag skates them in front of the large crowd in Brossard.
In fairness to Martin, Boudreau's coaching style is just a similar puck possession style. Only difference is, that his faster team sees to get it and understand it better. Problems in the room? Georges Laraque seems to think so,
Hopefully the Canadiens can get out of this funk, and start getting back on the winning side. If they don't, well lets out it this way: With four of their last six games on the road, and sporting a .500 record away from Montreal, the Canadiens could find themselves battling to the last game for a playoff spot. That final game is against you know who, and they just seem to enjoy playing spoiler at the Habs expense.
The Habs host the Atlanta Thrashers Tuesday night. And yes, they have been shutout four straight times. That happened back in 1928, but it safe to say no alumni from that team will be in attendance for that one.
Capitals thoughts from Japers' Rink