Forward lines and defense pairings
Lehkonen – Drouin – Byron
Pacioretty – Danault – Shaw
Hudon – Plekanec – Gallagher
Galchenyuk – McCarron – Mitchell
Mete – Weber
Alzner – Benn
Davidson – Petry
Jacob De La Rose, Joe Morrow
David Schlemko – hand (mid-November), Ales Hemsky – concussion symptoms, Nikita Scherbak – knee
So the popular refrain after this game was: Goalie stinks, Habs lose. You know, if only ‘The Big Cubano’ had gotten the start, things would have been completely different.
As far as analysis goes, it is superficial, lazy and rather disingenuous. But it is simplistic enough that the summary readily appeals to those with the attention span of a gnat.
But Carey Price was outgoaled by Devan Dubnyk. Wasn’t he? And once Price gave up two early goals, his team stopped skating.
Both of those statements must be true, They were heard often after the game. And we all know that if something is expressed loudly and repeated frequently, it is definitely the truth. Right, Mr. Goebbels?
But just for sake of argument, let’s take a closer look. So we’re led to believe that the Canadiens were cruising along without a hitch for the first five minutes until the first two goals of the game cut the legs out from the skaters.
But of course, that ignores the faceoff loss by Phillip Danault to open the game. And a turnover by Max Pacioretty a few seconds later. Then Eric Staal, parked next to the blue paint tipping a puck that dribbled through the crease as Price swatted at it as it narrowly missed the goal.
By the 33 second mark, the Wild had a shot on goal and an excellent scoring chance. So, despite what you may have heard, the wheels didn’t fall off the Habs wagon at the five minute mark. They never made it out of the barn.
As for the narrative that Dubnyk put on a goaltending clinic? That is firmly answered by noting that the Canadiens had only eight shots on goal in the first 32 minutes of the game and just ONE scoring chance. By then it was over and Dubnyk hadn’t been tested.
The Wild skated at will in any zone on the ice throughout the game. They won puck battles, they took advantage of wide open passing lanes and they fired quality shots.
The Canadiens offered little resistance. They were plagued by sloppy giveaways and looked utterly confused and disorganized, particularly in the defensive zone.
Sounds like the team around the netminder was dreadful. But what about those goals against?
The first Minnesota goal was a combination of bad play and bad luck, like many this season.
A rebound came to a wide open Matt Cullen. Price came across quickly and strong. From his eyes on the blade of the stick, Price anticipated a high shot. But Cullen partially fanned on the shot, changing the direction and sending a shot along the ice.
The play started with a lost defensive zone draw by Mike McCarron. It was followed by bad defensive coverage with Jordie Benn and Jeff Petry caught on the same side of the ice. And some good fortune for Cullen, who only got a piece of the puck.
Within the subsequent 10 seconds, a shoot-in by Jonas Brodin was intercepted behind the Canadiens goal by Price. With Brandon Davidson putting himself in a poor position to receive a pass, Price fired an outlet pass to Max Pacioretty who nonchalantly missed it with the puck going to Matt Dumba.
The Wild defenceman one-timed the puck back towards the Canadiens goal, through six bodies and past a screened Price. It’s fair to direct some blame at Price for this one, but he had help.
Next, a bad pinch by Davidson and inadequate backup by Pacioretty led to a Minnesota 2-on-1. Petry did not prevent the pass across leaving Tyler Ennis with a wide open side.
Minnesota’s fourth goal came off the rush with Victor Mete putting himself out of position. A couple of quick Wild passes left Ryan Suter wide open from the circle for a one-timer.
At that point, with 7:51 left in the second period, the shots were 20-8 for the Wild. They were dominating play, holding a 4-0 lead.
Now you can put 100 per cent of the blame squarely on the shoulders of Carey Price if you wish, but you shouldn’t be surprised if someone calls you on your horse manure.
The Canadiens are not a playoff team right now. In fact, they are looking like a very bad team at the moment. The defence has been decimated by a GM who’s experiment is turning out to be a colossal failure. The team is struggling with a system that got it’s coach fired in Boston. The offence is inconsistent. And the special teams aren’t very good either.
But that’s much too complicated to explain. Better to just skewer 31.
▲ Brendan Gallagher, Tomas Plekanec
▼ Brandon Davidson, Jordie Benn, Jeff Petry, Max Pacioretty, Phillip Danault, Andrew Shaw, Torrey Mitchell, Alex Galchenyuk, Jonathan Drouin