Apparently, the team didn’t get the memo, or they read it wrong.
What it said was, that Carey Price was getting the night off. Clearly most of the players inserted their own name in place of Price’s, and decided to take the night off as well; hanging Peter Budaj out to dry in his 2013 debut.
Every smart fan out there knew that this was going to be a tough test for the Canadiens, so we weren’t expecting a blowout in Montreal’s favour, but the misery the Habs displayed on the ice was incomprehensible.
The good start, with Plekanec nailing his fourth of the season, on an early Habs power-play wasn’t what set the pace for this game. It was clear – from early on – that both teams were going to be physical. Before the match was even six minutes in, there had been four fighting majors handed out.
Despite the fact that I’m extremely disappointed in the tightness and zero tolerance policy of the NHL officials, which clearly interrupted the flow of this game early on, it had no effect on the outcome of this particular contest.
Montreal clearly did not show up, and in particular, the first line of this team.
David Desharnais has been a complete disappointment all season so far. It’s like he has lost his vision and touch.He’s been fighting the puck and the play every step of the way.
The biggest aggravation has been Erik Cole. He looks like he’s already retired, or asleep. I’ve never seen so many pathetically soft passes and a lack of desire to head to the front of the net. Even as the Habs engaged strongly to begin the third, Cole was only sitting beside the net and taking shots from poor locations, when he could have driven to the blue paint and been more productive.
The other major equation was the lack of discipline. The team took eleven penalties – three of which were taken by a fiery Ryan White. It was his double minor that cost the Habs two quick goals that opened the game up in the Senator’s favour.
There was very little to praise Montreal about in this crusade. The power-play was weak, the penalty-kill was no better, the even strength play-making efforts were poor at best, and this clearly looked like a team that was playing back to back games with little to no preparation.
By the middle of the match, it was obvious the Canadiens were playing desperation hockey, and by that time, the air was solidly out of the balloon.
One of the bright lights of the night was the aggressive play by Brandon Prust. He was robbed by Craig Anderson twice in the third, but he never gave up on the play and constantly showed determination.
For the many that will try and blame Budaj for this outcome, re-watch the game tape and see how very little he can be blamed overall for this loss.
They head into their next outing against the Buffalo Sabres on Saturday (2pm start) with a two day rest, and with the arrival of PK Subban in the line-up. The crowd at the Bell Center should be deafening when he’s announced onto the ice. Hopefully that rest and two day preparation can spur a difference in their performance.
Sadly, that outing only sets them up to face the Senators again, in their second back to back of the season.
Perhaps they will take lessons learned into this second event with Ottawa, and step it up a few notches, because this is definitely not the same team that we saw in the previous three games.