It was a weird day in the NHL. With Montreal playing Calgary, Buffalo playing Detroit and Carolina playing Los Angeles it seemed like it would be easy wins for Montreal, Detroit and Los Angeles. Of course, the unexpected happened and Calgary, Buffalo and Carolina won. The Buffalo and Carolina wins were one goal affairs whereas the Calgary Flames wiped the ice with the Montreal Canadiens in a 6-2 victory at the Bell Centre.
Based on the atmosphere at the Bell Centre and the lack of effort by the players I can totally see why the Montreal Canadiens do not usually play on Sunday nights. It was like everyone would rather be at home watching the NFL games.
There were some weak excuses offered for the flat performance by the Bleu-Blanc-Rouge. When NHL teams come back home from a trip out west often their first game is usually awful. Not used to playing on a Sunday night so their schedules were all off. I call b*llsh%t on all that the only thing that can be said about Montreal’s effort against Calgary is that there was none.
So-called experts predicted that the Calgary Flames would once again be one of the league’s weaker teams with lots of young players and no stars to speak of. They were not considered to be a team in the West that would battle for a playoff spot. As of now, and I agree it is too early to really judge, the Flames find themselves in 4th place overall in the Western Conference. Securely in a playoff spot. Despite Montreal’s quick start this season they only have one more point than the Flames. While things should even out over the long run what every team that plays the Flames is going to find out is that they give full effort every night. No win against them is going to come just by throwing your sticks on the ice. Their coach Bob Hartley has them playing a system that suits them and they work hard.
Montreal should not have been caught by surprise about this as they had just played Calgary earlier in the week. They had not played well in that game, but Carey Price had save their bacon and Montreal eked out a shootout victory. The lack of effort was odd and yet not so odd. Despite the fact that Montreal had the best record in all of the NHL over the month of October (8-2-1) they had not been playing their best hockey over their last 3 games. The Habs returned from the western part of Canada with a 1-1-1 record, but were outplayed for large stretches in all of the games.
Having not lost at home yet you knew it was coming though it was unexpected that it came courtesy of such a thorough beating. Right from the drop of the puck you could sense the lack of intensity in the crowd and on the ice. It was like the Habs were skating on sand whereas the Flames were flying. Montreal spent precious little time in the Flames end of the ice whereas they could not get out of their end. This was apparent on the shot clock which saw Calgary outshoot Montreal 19-4 and also on the scoreboard which had Calgary ahead 2-0 at the end of the 1st period. It could have been worse if not for the close chances, excellent left pad saves by Price and a post hit.
While the home side did play a little better in the 2nd period. Hey! They were only outshot 11-7. Calgary managed another goal at 17:53 off a deflection by an untouched Curtis Glencross. He was allowed to stand in front of Carey Price and got his stick on a TJ Brodie wrist shot from the blue line.
In the first minute of the 3rd period Montreal cruelly gave their fans some hope. Max Pacioretty scored just 37 seconds in on a shot that eluded Jonas Hiller on the short side from a severe angle. A goal the Calgary goalie would like back, I’m sure. They were now only 2 goals behind. Could they muster up another of their comeback victories? Nope is the answer. No sooner had the crowd settle down from cheering did the Habs go back into their state of no effort and Calgary potted two more goals to seal the wretched affair.
By far it was Montreal’s worst effort of the season. Probably even worse than the 7-2 drubbing they suffered early on against Tampa. It was on the road in Tampa and they are supposed to be a strong team; Calgary is not. Some adjustments have to be made before the Chicago Black Hawks come in for a tilt on Tuesday. Youth, speed and two guys chomping at the bit to play, Jiri Sekac and Michael Bournival, have to be in the line-up with Travis Moen (too slow, doesn’t bring the robust play he used to, no offensive upside, and his play on the penalty kill isn’t enough reason to keep him in) and Rene Bourque (wasn’t his worse game against the Flames, but is more for his body of non-work this season) as healthy scratches. While Dale Weise seems to have won back the confidence of his head coach the guy should not be on an offensive line. Put either Sekac or Brendan Gallagher there. Montreal is having trouble scoring goals and needs to put all its offensive guys on the top two lines to help manufacture goals. P.K. Subban has to stop taking so many penalties and pick up his game a little. He is capable of more. Finally, Brandon Prust has to play with more of an edge. He is the muscle on the team and has to play like it. At times during the game against the Flames it looked like Prust was not interested and he is of no use when he plays that way.
-On-Ice Officials: Referees – Dave Jackson and Jean Hebert
Linesmen – Derek Nansen and Brad Kovachik
-Goals: 1st Period:
4:58: Calgary – Josh Jooris assisted by Dennis Wideman and Johnny Gaudreau
19:33: Calgary – Markus Granlund assisted by Jiri Hudler and Johnny Gaudreau
17:53: Calgary – Curtis Glencross assisted by TJ Brodie and Sean Monahan
0:37: Montreal – Max Pacioretty assisted by Dale Weise and P.K. Subban
8:48: Calgary – (pp) Josh Jooris assisted by TJ Brodie and Jiri Hudler
11:08: Calgary – Lance Bouma assisted by Mark Giordano
13:18: Montreal – Lars Eller assisted by Rene Bourque and Andrei Markov
16:30: Calgary – (en) Mark Giordano assisted by Curtis Glencross and TJ Brodie
-Shots on Goal: Montreal – 20
Calgary – 36
-Three Stars: 1) Josh Jooris – Calgary
2) Johnny Gaudreau – Calgary
3) TJ Brodie – Calgary
-Final Score: Montreal – 2
Calgary – 6