Sunday, 18 December 2011

Not the Same

It was a whirlwind day in Montreal. Jacques Martin was relieved of his coaching duties. New Habs Head Coach Randy Cunnyworth was introduced. The Coach was immediately asked when he will learn French. Hab fans panicked, a game was played, and the Canadiens blew it in the 3rd period. Plus que ca change...

Kelly Hrudey and PJ Stock had differing takes on the CBC broadcast. Hrudey referred to Jacques Martin as a "terrific teacher", "so stoic" and yet felt that sometimes a coach needs to show emotion. PJ Stock felt the firing of Jacques Martin was a "General Manager trying desperately to protect his job". New Head Coach Randy Cunneyworth said the Habs "lost a good man" in outgoing Coach Jacques Martin and that he took over the reigns of the team with "mixed emotions".

The Bell Centre seemed to have a renewed energy to start the game. It was much louder than at any point this season for the opening faceoff. The Canadiens had jump in their step to open the game, particularly Mike Cammalleri and Tomas Plekanec. At 3:42 of the first they gained the zone with PK Subban who would miss the net high blocker side. The good energy however wouldn't last long.

At 4:50 Alexei Emelin would be called for tripping on an excellent defensive slide play. The Canadiens would kill of the Penalty but would be held in their own half of the rink until 11:26 of the first when Andrei Kostitsyn would manage their first shot on Devils goalie Martin Brodeur. Two Minutes later Max Pacioretty would fan on a one-time pass from Tomas Plekanec as part of a 3 on 2 rush.

Peter Sykora would open the scoring of the game at 7:05 after some excellent work by Adam Henrique to screen Carey Price.

With Erik Cole off for interference, Peteri Nokaleinen would get a short-handed breakaway, but his backhander sailed wide of the net. 3 seconds after exiting the box, Erik Cole would be called for Checking to the head. The play reminds me much of the Ryan Malone/Chris Campoli play in the pre-season and I will be surprised if there will be any supplementary discipline. (Although Kevin Weekes on the CBC broadcast felt there might). Carey Price would stand stall to keep the Canadiens trailing by one heading to the intermission.

One minute into the second period, New Jersey's Fayne would be called for interference, and The Canadiens would get their first power play of the day. Excellent Motion could be seen to start the man advantage for Montreal leading directly to Anton Volchenkov's cross checking penalty.

Montreal's PK Subban would score on the ensuing 5 on 3, with Tomas Kaberle picking up his 5th point in 4 games for Montreal. Erik Cole worked hard in front of Brodeur allowing the Subban rifle to get through traffic. The Power Play of course would continue as a 5 on 4. Yanick Weber would do some good work keeping pucks in at the blue line, but the Habs would fail to twice capitalize.

At 5:05 of the second, New Jersey would regain their one goal lead as Patrick Elias would score his 12th of the season. The line of Elias, Sykora and Zubrus would prove to be a thorn in the Canadiens side for much of the night. Twenty seconds after the Elias goal Sykora and Zajac would both be robbed by Carey price.

Mike Blunden would take on Erik Cole's duties from the first goal to screen Brodeur while Hal Gill would do some great work on the boards setting up Chris Campoli's first goal as a Hab at 6:33.

The Canadiens would prove to be in control for much of the second period. Lars Eller would notch his 3rd of the season at 8:57 off a good counter-attack. This Time Mathieu Darche would be screening Brodeur. Darche had his 4th solid game in a row for Montreal, en route to almost 20 minutes of ice time.

With the second winding down, Adam Larssen would make a quick transition pass to Dave Clarkson who would beat Carey Price with a great shot (while holding off Hal Gill) for his 11th of the season.

The third period would be a snoozer. The Canadiens would do nothing of note except hang back in their own end while the Devils attacked. The home crowd was reigning boos all over the Canadiens.

The Habs would have a brutal Power Play at 4:14 where they would manage no chances or shots. They would be booed much the rest of the way.

Pierre Gauthier talked about "inconsistency" being a primary reason behind Jacques Martin being dismissed - however the 3rd period flatness has been consistent for awhile. After such a strong 2nd period, the 3rd period proved the Habs continue to be "consistently inconsistent".

The Habs now head out on their annual Christmas road trip, and one can hope Randy Cunneyworth will instill his style - and it gets results - over the trip, or the GM's head may be the next to roll.

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