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Monday, December 27, 2010

Habs Beat Themselves on the Island

I said it once, and I'll say it again.

I don't mind the Canadiens losing a game here or there, when they are soundly beaten by a good team.

What I don't like is when the Habs find ways to lose and end up beating themselves... like what happened last night in their 4-1 loss against the New York Islanders in front of a snow-shellacked pitiful crowd who came out to see this one. Most of them Canadiens fans, mind you.

So the Canadiens continue to stumble through their most difficult part of the season. Last year the team was flying high after a 6-1 trip which ultimately put them in a playoff spot. This year, could the opposite happen and take them out of the playoff picture????

Right from the start the Habs didn't have their stuff, again inable to complete their offensive plays and pull the trigger when the puck was on their stick. The Canadiens outshot and outchanced their opponents but only found the net in the 3rd period when Plekanec scored, who once again was probably the best forward on the ice for either team.

In the 1st, Kostitsyn was left alone in front of Roloson but meekly put the puck right into his pads. He also butchered a 2-on-1 with Gionta, failing to make a pass or shot. Cammellari also had his fair share of chances but couldn't muster anything, missing an open net after a perfect pass by Gionta. Spacek also missed a gaping wide open net in the period.

When they're not playing up to snuff, the team makes the same mistakes over and over: fumbling scoring opportunities, taking bad penalties which halts their momentum, then giving up terrific scoring chances to their opponents which usually ends up in the back of their net.

Last night, the Canadiens were down a man for 6 minutes in the first period. And though they didn't allow a goal on those penalties, it certainly didn't help them to shake off the turkey from the night before. Then they gave up a soft a 2-on-1 when Maxime Lapierre made a bad decision in the offensive zone and Blake Comeau slid the puck past Carey Price.

Price looked weak on the play and showed his frustration after the goal. To me, being a goalie, it looked like he thought Comeau was going to go around the net, a la Plekanec, so he tried to follow him and appeared to cheat on the play. This left his legs wide open, providing a gaping hole for Comeau to slide the puck into the net.

Price can't be blamed for the second goal which was a clear cut breakaway after a bad giveaway by Gionta in the neutral zone. True, Price was making these saves earlier in the season. But does that legitimize the fact the Canadiens keep on giving up breakaways like this???? I think teams are figuring out that the Habs have a slow, aging defense in Gill, Hamrlik and Spacek, and are fully taking advantage. With Gorges not at a hundred percent... yeesh.

Second period saw the Habs come out flying, but again couldn't convert. Honestly, Roloson wasn't really tested and they made life easy for the seasoned veteran.

3rd period, down 2-0 and still within the realms of reality to win or at least score a point from this game, Pacioretty drills an Islander from behind and takes a major and game misconduct. There goes any hopes for a comeback. A goal 5-on-4 then another 5-on-3 after a Gomez tripping penalty put the game out of reach.

Ultimately they gave the Isles 8 power plays -- way too much, even for the 2nd best penalty killing team in the league. Pacioretty will now have a quiet chat with league official Colin Campbell. He'll probably get a 2-game suspension. Meanwhile Lucic displays his goonish tendencies, throws a suckerpunch and gets a mere $3500 fine. Too bad Campbell's son isn't on the Habs, eh?

Things don't get much easier as the team plays in Washington tomorrow night against the Caps, who are playing with much more confidence of late. The Canadiens are going the other direction and could well be in 8th place in the conference by week's end.

Let's hope for the best.

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