Game 70, Home Game 34 | Tuesday March 14, 2017 
Centre Bell, Montreal, QC.

CANADIENS
Montreal

teamlogo_canadiens

2-4

BLACKHAWKS
Chicago

(Photo by Minas Panagiotakis/Getty Images)

Lineup

Forward lines and defense pairings 

Pacioretty – Galchenyuk – Radulov
Byron – Plekanec – Gallagher
Lehkonen – Danault – Shaw
King – Ott – Mitchell

Markov – Weber
Emelin – Petry
Davidson – Benn

Goaltenders

Price
Montoya

Scratches

Nathan Beaulieu, Brian Flynn, Michael McCarron, Andreas Martinsen, Nikita Nesterov

Injured Reserve

Game Report

As the game-ending siren sounded at the Bell Centre, if you concluded that the Canadiens played a near perfect match but were sunk by number 74 in red, you would have a lot of company on social media. But you would be dead wrong.

It is clear that Alexei Emelin did not have a strong game against Chicago. But to blame him for the loss and all three goals against is uninformed, lazy or worse. I suppose that you can be excused if you are a casual fan just wanting to pile on a not-so-sympathetic player.  What is more disturbing is those suffering from media group-think, along with a healthy dose of xenophobia.

Instead, let’s take a look at the Canadiens goals against from a strictly hockey perspective.

Patrick Kane scored the opening goal in the game with about seven and a half minutes left in the first period. Many pointed to Artemi Panarin spinning off Emelin near centre ice as the cause of the goal but did not look further. Let’s do that.

First, why was Emelin there in the first place, many wondered? It’s simple. He was doing exactly what the new head coach asked him to do. Since his arrival Claude Julien has preached that he wants opposition forwards to be challenged in the neutral zone. It is his design to slow down attackers so that they don’t gain the Canadiens zone with speed.

Following Julien’s system, Emelin challenged Ansimov. The skilled Blackhawks forward spun off Emelin and continued into the zone albeit somewhat slowed. Emelin recovered and returned to take his man, Anisimov. No problem there.

Emelin’s defense partner took the front of the net, albeit perhaps a bit too deeply. But the real culprit here is Paul Byron, who despite returning to the defensive zone, took no one. Byron’s man, Patrick Kane, received the pass and had a clear lane to the goal. Kane scored on a perfect shot. 

Emelin’s so-called ‘crime’ on the second goal was apparently taking out Brendan Gallagher with a hip check. It was an inartful, failed attempt at a stick check by Emelin on the rushing Blackhawk, that is to be sure. But his play was not the fatal one as Jeff Petry effectively broke up the resulting 2-on-1.

As the play continued, the puck came to Johnny Oduya at the point. Paul Byron was there to provide coverage but did the worst of all things he could do. Byron did not block the shot nor did he get out of the way to allow Carey Price to see the puck. For screening his goaltender and not preventing the shot, Byron said post-game, “That’s on me.”

Am I turning the blame from Emelin to Byron? No, not at all. Clearly, Byron had a weak game in his own zone. But he also got a third period goal and came close to tying up the game with time running out.

The third Blackhawks goal can surely be blamed on Emelin, or the Petry-Emelin duo. Both defenceman ended up on the same side of the ice leaving Artemi Panarin wide open to receive a pass from Nick Schmaltz. Petry said simply, “The communication wasn’t there tonight.”

So to place the blame for this loss solely at the skates of Alexei Emelin is disingenuous. And that’s only looking at the game from the defensive side of the ledger. Was Emelin also to blame for the Canadiens going scoreless for almost the first 53 minutes of the game? And what about a little credit for a very strong looking Blackhawks team?

There are still issues that need to be resolved in the next dozen games of the regular season that go well beyond playing musical chairs with the Habs defencemen.

~~~

▲     Carey Price, Shea Weber, Brendan Gallagher, Alex Galchenyuk, Artturi Lehkonen  

▼     Dwight King, Steve Ott, Jeff Petry, Paul Byron, Alexei Emelin, Phillip Danault

 Statistics 
CANADIENS   BLACKHAWKS
42 Shots 24
62% Face-offs 39%
0 for 2 Power Play 0 for 1
2 Penalty Minutes 4
28 Hits 23
90 Corsi For 51
 Scoring
 FINAL 1 2 3 OT SO T
 Canadiens (39-23-8) 0 0 2 2
 Blackhawks (44-20-5) 1 1 2 4
Scorers Goalies
  • MTL: Byron (19), Weber (16)
  • CHI: Kane (31), Oduya (2), Panarin (23), Toews (18), 
  • MTL: Price (W) 31-17-5
  • CHI: Crawford (L) 28-15-3
 NHL Three Stars

NHL3stars
  1.  Patrick Kane  CHI
  2.  Artemi Panarin  CHI
  3.  Shea Weber  MTL

 Video Highlights 
 Post-game Press Conference
Coach Claude Julien

  • “The effort was there, the commitment was there, the fact that we didn’t give up certainly shows the character of our hockey club.”
  • “It doesn’t matter what I say here. What matters is what I do inside that dressing room.”

Max Pacioretty

  • “Shots gotta go in the net to win. Gotta want to make the next play not just be content with putting the puck on the net.”
  • “I’m not sure what you are trying to get out of me on that but you’re not going to get it.”

Paul Byron

  • “Getting the first goal is taking too long. Can’t wait until the end of the third period to start getting going.”
  • “Pretty good chance that I did screen [Carey Price]. I probably should have blocked that shot. That’s on me.”

Jeff Petry

  • “The fight that we showed at the end, we need to take that out of this (game.)”
  • “We have to communicate, who is going for the puck and who is picking up the net front guy. The communication wasn’t there tonight.”

Shea Weber

  • “We did a lot of good things. I thought we had some really good chances, our goaltender played well.”

Quotes courtesy of NHL.com

 Social Media: Follow @AllHabs on Twitter
https://twitter.com/NHL/status/841800816533098499

https://twitter.com/Baygold2/status/841811363185999873

Follow @AllHabs on Twitter

Be sure to follow @AllHabs on Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest, YouTube

SHARE
Previous articleHabs360 | Habs Building Confidence [Podcast]
Next articleOPINION | Byron or Lehkonen in the Habs Top-Six?

Rick is the Editor-in-Chief, lead contributor, and owner of the All Habs network of websites. His mission is to build a community of Canadiens fans who are informed, engaged and connected. He is the vision behind all four sites within the network – All Habs, Habs Tweetup, We Are Canadiens, and The Montreal Forum – and is responsible for the design and layout of each.

In concert with the strong belief that “Habs fans are everywhere!”, Rick is pleased that people use All Habs as a conduit to find and connect with other Habs fans worldwide. He is also proud that Habs Tweetups have allowed fans to meet in person and develop long lasting friendships.