|FINAL | Game 72, Away Game 36 | Saturday March 17, 2018
Air Canada Centre, Toronto, ON.
Forward lines and defense pairings
Byron – Drouin – Gallagher
Galchenyuk – De La Rose – Lehkonen
Hudon – L. Shaw – Scherbak
Deslauriers – McCarron – Carr
Reilly – Petry
Alzner – Juulsen
Benn – Lernout
Ales Hemsky – concussion, Shea Weber – lower-body, Carey Price – concussion, Victor Mete – hand, Max Pacioretty – lower-body, David Schlemko – undisclosed, Rinat Valiev – lower-body, Phillip Danault – upper body, Andrew Shaw – upper-body
If Canadiens fans thought that their team could somehow match the Maple Leafs riding the emotion of facing a long-time rival, they were disappointed in this game.
Montreal’s woeful penalty-kill was the primary stain on an otherwise decent first period. The league’s worst road PK unit now has just a 67.4% success record. The short-handed system as well as the coach running that system needs to be replaced.
The Leafs power-play goal delivered a wake-up call to the Habs offence that generated shot attempts for the last four minutes of the first period. But all that was short-lived.
From the drop of the puck in the second period, Toronto pressed, with Kasperi Kapanen scoring on the breakaway just three minutes into the middle frame. The goal was a heavy shot of adrenaline for the Leafs who took over the game and thoroughly dominated the Canadiens.
For Habs fans it was embarrassing to see their team rag-dolled in such a complete fashion on a Saturday night on Hockey Night in Canada. The Leaf attack came in waves with Montreal rarely seeing the offensive zone.The conditions were ripe for a thrashing of epic proportions.
But Charlie Lindgren had other ideas.
The Canadiens goaltender made 24 saves in the second period alone, several of the spectacular variety. Lindgren even had the Toronto media singing his praises. Sadly, his teammates could not raise their effort level to match.
It was one of the most lop-sided periods we have seen this season. Shot attempts were an astounding 51-15 for the Leafs.
With Toronto carrying a 3-0 lead into the second intermission, the final period was a foregone conclusion.
The only Canadiens line to generate offense and turn heads was Jacob De La Rose flanked by Alex Galchenyuk and Artturi Lehkonen. Lindgren finished the game with a career high 45 saves.
The Montreal Canadiens and Toronto Maple Leafs are on opposite trajectories right now. After years of futility, the Leafs went out and put together the best front office and coaching staff in hockey.
The most disheartening thing for Habs fans is that the owner is playing the “if only” game. It doesn’t matter how many plans the General Manager has, he is the one who has failed miserably on the execution. And the head coach puts 100 per cent of the blame for “unacceptable” play on the players rather than his ill-matched system.
It is a mess and there is no end in sight. It hurts just a little bit more that the Leafs have figured things out.
▲ Charlie Lindgren, Artturi Lehkonen, Jacob De La Rose, Alex Galchenyuk, Brett Lernout
▼ Nicolas Deslauriers, Jonathan Drouin, Paul Byron, Charles Hudon, Karl Alzner, Noah Juulsen, Nikita Scherbak, Michael McCarron
|NHL Three Stars|
|Post-game Press Conference|
Quotes courtesy of NHL.com
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