Forward lines and defense pairings:
Pacioretty – Desharnais – Weise
Eller – Galchenyuk – Carr
Fleischmann – Plekanec – Byron
Flynn – Mitchell – Smith-Pelly
Beaulieu – Subban
Emelin – Markov
Tinordi – Gilbert
Scratches: Greg Pateryn, Sven Andrighetto, Jeff Petry (upper-body)
Injured reserve: Brendan Gallagher, Carey Price
Perhaps it’s time to change the words on the wall in the Canadiens dressing room. “No excuses” is a phrase that has been abandoned by the players and coaching staff alike. The new motto seems to be “We deserved better.”
Throughout the losing streak the most spoken words have been ‘we deserved better’ by the players but most often by the head coach. On Monday night Michel Therrien tried to explain how the Canadiens were the “better team” in a 5-1 loss to the Dallas Stars. Tonight it was Nathan Beaulieu who repeated the talking point.
Goaltending has been a major issue. Once again the Canadiens keeper lost that head-to-head matchup. Minnesota’s backup, Darcy Kuemper, was the victor tonight, making just his eighth start of the season.
Mike Condon had a decent game walking away with a .909 save percentage. A result over .900 has been a rarity since Carey Price was re-injured. But on the first goal Condon was slow to react after the initial start. On the second goal he was cheating and down early to give up a short side goal to Charlie Coyle.
And it could have been worse. Two goals by the Wild were called back. Truth be told, both could have counted with better technology to determine that the puck had crossed the goal line.
For those fans crying about not getting any puck luck, here was some ref luck delivered on a platter by none other than Chris Lee and his partner Justin St. Pierre.
The Canadiens offense continues to come from one source: the line of Alex Galchenyuk, Lars Eller and Daniel Carr. The same applied when Sven Andrighetto was on the right side. So maybe it’s time to admit that Alex and Lars are doing something right and allocate icetime accordingly.
In this game even strength icetime was not granted to those who had earned it. Dale Weise and David Desharnais each had 17:29 with Galchenyuk more than three minutes behind at 14:14. Desharnais, occupying the position of first line centre had no contribution to the offence with his single shot coming 56 minutes into the game, a weak nine foot wrister.
The Canadiens were down to five defencemen for most of the game with Tom Gilbert leaving in the first period with a lower body injury.
With Alexei Emelin forced to play his wrong side, he turned the wrong way and put the puck on the stick of Mikael Granlund. Condon stopped Granlund’s shot but was out of position when Jason Pominville pumped the rebound into the net. It was another defensive miscue on the second goal with Natha Beaulieu allowing Charlie Coyle to easily sweep around him.
In 17:28 of steady defensive play, Jarred Tinordi had three blocked shots and two hits.
The Christmas break is a welcome relief to a team that has won just once in their last 10 games and have lost five straight.
The Canadiens are off until Boxing day when they visit the Washington Capitals.
▲ Daniel Carr, Alex Galchenyuk, Lars Eller
▼ Tomas Plekanec, David Desharnais, Dale Weise