Forward lines and defense pairings:
Pacioretty – Plekanec – Gallagher
Eller – Galchenyuk – Mitchell
Fleischmann – Desharnais – Weise
Byron – Flynn – Smith-Pelly
Markov – Subban
Beaulieu – Petry
Gilbert – Pateryn
Scratches: Jarred Tinordi, Alex Semin
Injured reserve: Carey Price (lower-body), Alexei Emelin (lower-body)
Suspended: Zack Kassian
There was a curious game during the first month of the season played primarily by the mainstream media: finding new ways of describing just how little the Canadiens were relying on Carey Price for their early success. They argued that because the team was winning by two or three goals per night, they weren’t leaning on the best player in the world. But perhaps Price was playing a bigger part in the way the team was able to play than many were willing to admit.
Folks were equally off-base in their assessment of Michael Condon. With his 7-2-2 record this season, the Canadiens rookie has exceeded expectations. But early on, some were touting that Condon had ‘better stats’ than Price. One broadcaster said the only difference between the two goaltenders was that only jersey number ended in a ‘9’, the other a ‘1’.
Despite the winning record, it was clear that rebound control was an issue for Condon. He sometimes overplays the puck losing the net. The rookie hasn’t yet learned to effectively fight through screens. And Condon is not very proficient at playing the puck. While Condon had a good start to the season, his save percentage is under .860 for the past four games.
Against the Coyotes, Condon would have liked to have two of three goals back. The first Arizona goal can be dropped in the lap of P.K. Subban. The Canadiens star defender made an ill-advised pinch, something from which the team could have recovered. But there was also a Subban giveaway.
The unforgivable part was that Subban stopped skating when the Coyotes broke up the ice. As he coasted back, Subban watched as Martin Hanzal, left all alone, tapped in the first goal of the game.
Goaltending was not the only issue this night. Masking the team’s warts is one of the many ways that Price contributes to the team’s success.
With the Canadiens spotting the opposition a 3-0 lead for the third straight game, it just wasn’t in the cards to mount another comeback. The Habs were successful at the beginning of the season by getting out to early leads and making opponents chase them. In this game, Arizona defended well after establishing the comfortable lead.
The Canadiens are in Brooklyn on Friday night to meet the Islanders.
▲ Max Pacioretty, Dale Weise, Andrei Markov, P.K. Subban, Jeff Petry
▼ Mike Condon, Tom Gilbert, Devante Smith-Pelly