Dismal Loss In Dallas, Habs Downed 6-2

Photo: Glenn James / NHLI via Getty Images

Photo: Glenn James / NHLI via Getty Images

Dismal Loss In Dallas, Habs Downed 6-2

Given the mood, the slim pickings of good moments, and the score, this will be less recap, more thoughts than usual. I mean, what can I say about Saturday night’s game that hasn’t been said already in every curse-word filled posting on social media? The Habs didn’t just lose; they lost 6-2. The only other time that happened was when they lost to the Colorado Avalanche, 6-1, and it didn’t feel good back then either.

The game started well enough; the Habs were playing well. They looked strong, and focused.

And then the wheels came off. The Stars scored first. And second. And third.

It was only when Daniel Carr scored the Habs’ first goal in the second period that there seemed to be a spark on the ice, but even then, it looked like they were skating reluctantly.

The Canadiens have lost 8 of their last 10 games. Here’s the thing: in most of those, they have played well. They’ve been organized, the lines have worked, and the only thing they were unable to do was score a goal more than their opponent.

On Thursday night, when they lost to Los Angeles in their first shutout of the season, they took 45 shots on Jonathan Quick. That is not the sign of a team that isn’t trying; quite the opposite.

Against the Washington Capitals a couple of weeks ago, they were edged 3-2 and played one of their best games.

This game was not the same case; they did not have what it takes to mount a comeback, and that was disconcerting, to say the least.

After the game (which I will not recap, to spare you the reliving of this horror), Max Pacioretty expressed rare anger:

Here’s my problem with it: first, that kind of passion should have come out during the game. Even in the 3rd period, where they could have come back, he should have used that frustration in the room, given the first speech-of-desperation in his reign as captain, and lit a fire under the guys to come out desperate and hungry in the 3rd. If he made that speech, he needs to brush up on his motivational speaking skills. If he did not, he should have.

Secondly: as captain, that comment seems wildly inappropriate. That “it’s a joke” comment would have been better had he specified. See, he’s part of the team that contributed to the “joke” and some words of accountability would have been more appropriate.

That said, I completely understand his emotions; the team that came out of the starting gate this season, blasting through one opponent after the other, even after losses, is looking rather vulnerable. It’s hard for fans, so I can only imagine it’s harder for the captain.

Referees were abysmal. They made at least 3 soft calls – 2 against Michael McCarron, one against Nathan Beaulieu – 2 of which led to goals.

Alexei Emelin was the target of a headshot for which Patrick Eaves sat 2 minutes. I truly hope the Department of Player Safety has a little talk with Eaves; it was a dirty hit.

Jeff Petry was hit by Jamie Benn in the second period, was knocked to the ice, and led to the Stars’ 4th goal. I felt the hit was dirty, a blindside that was dangerous. Others disagree. But with the refs this game, it added to my disdain over their lack of consistency. They made soft calls and missed important ones – other than the disputed Petry hit. (Petry, by the way, left the game and didn’t return in the 3rd; he is said to have the ubiquitous “upper body injury”)

That said as well, the Habs sent no fewer than 3 pucks over the glass, sitting for the ridiculous “delay of game” penalty. Here’s why I have a problem with that penalty: does it really delay the game? There are buckets of pucks at the disposal of the referees; no one needs to go climbing into the stands to find the puck among the crowds. It takes a few seconds to procure a new puck, and it’s likely none of the players is deliberately hitting the puck into the crowd.

But 3 in one night? That was a new one for me. Even Michel Therrien said as much:

Let’s talk about Therrien. The “Fire Therrien” crowd is out in full force. These were the same people who said nothing when the team was winning. And say nothing when the Habs win the (currently rare) game. But they’re now calling for his head.

Therrien cannot be blamed for these losses. Each and every player has a personal responsibility to get into the game, to support his team and give his goaltender an easier time than the other goalie.

Therrien has not “lost the room”, nor is he being fired by Marc Bergevin. I get that it’s hard to accept our team played sub-par hockey, but playing the Blame Game is too easy. Win as a team, lose as a team. Either way, coach is still just a guy behind the bench.

I will, however, continue to bemoan his incessant line shuffling. I’ve said this before, but it bears repeating: the players will learn their linemates much more quickly, and much more thoroughly if they are given a chance to play a full 60 minutes without wondering who will be on their right or left every other shift.

So, stop the juggling, Coach. We’d like to see some predictability, and it’s likely the players would as well.

The bottom line is this: it’s still not time to panic. We’ve been here before – last season seems a distant memory but we were here. And it isn’t a sign of the apocalypse. The Habs will bounce back, and we’ll all be singing the olĂ© before long.

Next game is Monday in Nashville when the Predators host the Habs. Puck drop is 8 p.m. ET.

 

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