Game 58, Away Game 30 | Wednesday February 17, 2016 
Pepsi Center, Denver, CO.

CANADIENS
Montreal

teamlogo_canadiens

2-3

AVALANCHE
Colorado

(Photo by Doug Pensinger/Getty Images)

Lineup

Forward lines and defense pairings: 

Galchenyuk – Plekanec – Gallagher
Pacioretty – Eller – Andrighetto
Byron – De la Rose – Weise
Lessio – Mitchell – Smith-Pelly

Markov- Subban
Beaulieu – Gilbert
Emelin – Pateryn

Goaltenders:

Condon
Scrivens

Scratches: David Desharnais (foot), Mark Barberio, Tomas Fleischmann
Injured reserve:  Carey Price, Daniel Carr, Brian Flynn, Jeff Petry

Game Report

Believe it or not, there were some positives to be taken from this game. Lars Eller as Max Pacioretty’s centre is a very good thing. It was clear from the very first shift and continued throughout the first period.

In the second, the pair combined with Sven Andrighetto was rewarded for hustle and drive. Forechecking hard, Andrighetto forced Colorado goaltender Semyon Varlamov to rush his clearing attempt giving Pacioretty the chance to set-up Eller who was parked in front of the net. Imagine that!

Pacioretty and Eller also looked good together on the first wave of the power-play. For a coach who is constantly juggling lines, it is mind-boggling that Michel Therrien hasn’t put together this combination prior to game 58 of the season. And his hand forced by an injury!

Moving back to his natural position, Jacob De la Rose had a strong game centering the third line. At 14:33, De la Rose had the most even-strength ice-time of any Canadiens forward. He also won the most faceoffs with 10.

On the back end, Tom Gilbert (24:42) and Andrei Markov (24:48) led the team in ice time. Stating the obvious, Gilbert’s extra minutes no doubt had everything to do with the upcoming trade deadline and the audience of scouts in the press gallery. P.K. Subban (22:19) and Nathan Beaulieu (22:01) were next in line for icetime.

Subban could have added to that total but found himself benched for the final minute of the game after having drawing the ire of the head coach. No matter that the Habs were just one goal down, Therrien thought that it was the ideal time to send a message to his best offensive defenceman. Clearly the emotional coach believes that the playoffs are out of reach.

It’s not only that the Canadiens are losing, it’s the drama that unfolds after each loss. It’s destructive.

The key play that had fans and media taking sides came with just over two minutes remaining. P.K. Subban danced along the Colorado blueline looking to push deeper into the zone. Subban was stripped of the puck by Mikhail Grigorenko who turned the puck in the other direction for an Avalanche rush.

With Subban caught up ice, the Canadiens had three players back. Pacioretty turned to face the puck carrier, Matt Duchene even though he was already covered by Markov. That left a wide-open Jarome Iginla for a tap-in on a nice feed from Grigorenko. It didn’t help that Ben Scrivens overplayed the Duchene pass.

While there was a little blame to go around, objectively, it was Subban who was responsible for the Avs winning goal. Subban blamed a skate, it wasn’t. It was also disappointing to hear Subban say that there was nothing he could do about it. Yes, make a better decision.

That said, there are two sides to the coin regarding Therrien’s decision to bench Subban late in the game with a chance to tie it. I am willing to accept that the coach thought he was justified in doing so.

Where I will be very critical is the way Therrien publicly called out Subban for his selfish play three different ways in English and again in French in his post-game presser. It was irresponsible.

Therrien is not losing the Habs dressing room, he is surgically carving it up.  The coach was well aware of reports of unrest in the room. His comments only served to fuel divisions while sending fans and media alike to choose sides.

I strongly spoke out in December saying that Therrien needed to be fired. As I predicted the atmosphere around the team is causing permanent damage. Bergevin must act before it is allowed to get out of hand any further.

Once Therrien is gone, Bergevin will be left to deal with the issue of Subban and Pacioretty. Given the way the team has been mismanaged, I honestly don’t know if both can remain on the team together. If there wasn’t already enough issues for a GM who is having difficulty tackling any of the major ones.

The Habs return to Montreal to host the Philadelphia Flyers on Friday.

~~~

▲     Lars Eller,  Jacob De la Rose, Sven Andrighetto, Andrei Markov

▼     Michel Therrien, Marc Bergevin, P.K Subban, Alexei Emelin, Greg Pateryn, Ben Scrivens

 Statistics 
CANADIENS AVALANCHE
34 Shots 28
0 for 3 Power Play 1 for 3
49% Face-offs 51%
8 Penalty Minutes 8
18 Hits 16
62 Corsi For 51
 Scoring
 FINAL 1 2 3 OT SO T
 Canadiens (27-27-4) 1 1 0 2
 Avalanche (30-26-4) 0 2 1 3
Scorers Goalies
  • MTL: Markov (4), Eller (10)
  • COL: Johnson (9), Iginla (16), Iginla (17)
  • MTL: Scrivens (L) 3-5-0
  • COL: Varlamov (W)  22-15-3
 NHL Three Stars
NHL3stars
  1. Jarome Iginla  COL
  2. Erik Johnson  COL
  3. Andrei Markov  MTL

 Video Highlights 

 Post-game Press Conference
Coach Michel Therrien
186237429_slide

  • “It was a good test for Jacob (De la Rose) playing center. He won some big faceoffs and seemed to be very comfortable in that role. That’s good news for us.”
  • “We played hard, I thought we played a really solid game. It’s too bad that an individual mistake cost the game, late in the game.”
  •  I thought [P.K. Subban] could have [made] a better decision at the blue line. He moved the puck behind and he put himself in a tough position.”
  • “We played as a team. Unfortunately at the end of the game when we don’t play as a team we could be in trouble. This is what happened.”
  • “Un jeu individualiste qui a coûté le match de ce soir.”
  • “You look at the effort, there’s a lot of positives with our young group.”

Lars Eller

  • “I felt good with Max and Sven. It was a tough game. There were a lot of broken plays in the third, but there were some encouraging things in the second period. I think we can build on this. Hopefully we can build some more chemistry together back home. I think it was a step in the right direction for us as a team compared to last game in Phoenix, for sure.

P.K. Subban

  • “I just remember my feet coming out from under me. [Grigorenko] didn’t really push me. I’m pretty strong on the puck on those situations. My feet came out from under me. Usually if I feel a guy on me, at that point, I just put it in deep. I didn’t really feel him, crossed over and lost an edge.
  • “In that situation, I had lots of room and I tried to take advantage of it. I lost an edge. Not much I can do about it.”

Avalanche forward Mikhail Grigorenko

  • “I was just trying to keep pressure on Subban. I was pressuring him and trying to get my stick on the puck. I was successful and he tripped. I was just thinking, ‘Keep skating, keep skating,’ and then I saw [Duchene] had more speed, so I gave it to him.”

Avalanche head coach Patrick Roy

  • “It’s a good win for us. The good thing is winning a game without having our A game, that’s what I like about it. I know we can play better, we just found a way to score that big goal.”

Quotes courtesy of NHL.com

 Social Media: Follow @AllHabs on Twitter
https://twitter.com/grantmccagg/status/700186804968816642

Follow @AllHabs on Twitter

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