Habs Book Early Vacation, Forget to Play Versus Islanders

In what can only be described as a sad excuse for a hockey game, the Montreal Canadiens left Carey Price out to dry tonight as they lost 3-1 to the New York Islanders. While the Islanders have been playing excellent hockey since Doug Weight’s take-over behind the bench, one has to admit that they had very little opposition. After being dominated for most of the first, Nathan Beaulieu committed two weak plays on the puck which directly lead to the Islanders leading 1-0 after one period. The Islanders continued to spend most the game in the Montreal zone in the second but the Carey Price show wasn’t nearly done. Then the Habs got a power play and Weber tied the game. Let’s be clear that Montreal had no business being tied with the Islanders after two periods, but that you’d expect a team stinking up the joint to come out strong in the third with such a favourable result. This was not the case as they continued to spend most of the time in their zone. Then the hockey gods took care of them for good as Paul Byron was inexplicably given a diving minor which lead to open space for Tavares to find Ladd who scored his second on the night. Before the nice play by the Islander Captain, Philip Danault made a horrendous pass in the offensive zone that allowed the Islanders to break out and eventually apply pressure and score. Finally, the Islanders struck again on the power play to ensure Montreal was not going to mount any sort of come back, not that they ever threated to on this night.

Observations

1. Nathan Beaulieu and Sven Andrighetto showed why they are not ready for bigger roles on this team. After a series of really solid showings, both were completely atrocious on this night. Beaulieu caused the first goal against while Andrighetto was relegated to the fourth line by the third period in favour of Daniel Carr. If these two ever want to be as high on the depth chart as their potential suggests they are, they must find consistency and bring way down the number of games in a season where they look like they did tonight.

2. Players who showed up tonight are: Radulov, Lehkonen, Danault (other than that pass in the third), and obviously, Carey Price who kept the team in the game until the 50-minute mark. Hard to win when you have one line playing and the coach doesn’t have the gumption to move over some veterans to play them together. If roles were reversed, you can bet that the veteran would have received extra ice-time in favour of Lehkonen. Pacioretty was not close to being the worst tonight, he just wasn’t as in the game as Lehkonen was and given that no one else was creating offense, having Lehkonen creating chances by himself was a waste.

3. Carey Price was sensational on this night so can the media get over the idea of his slump now?

Habs Acquire Nesterov

The acquisition of Nesterov on this night is an interesting one. The most obvious possibility here is that the Habs are justifiably not satisfied with the play of Barberio-Redmond-Johnston and have opted to give an outside option a shot in the role. The trade cost them very little so why not? Some more improbable possibilities are both more exciting and worrisome. One would be that Markov is not nearing a return and so the team needed a defender that could get some power play time when the inconsistent Beaulieu plays like he did on this night. A more exciting idea would be that Bergevin plans on being aggressive at the deadline and needs some depth if ever the need arose to trade a Nathan Beaulieu to acquire some top-end talent (coughcoughDuchenecough).

There is no way to know why it was done but it does make for an interesting acquisition as Nesterov is another smaller player on the blue line who plays far more offensively than defensively. An interesting move, not sure one that will end up making Bergevin look like gold à la Byron or Danault.

Time for the All-Star break as the next Habs games comes next Tuesday as they host the Buffalo Sabres.

Thanks for reading,

Kevin Léveillé

Follow me on Twitter: @kev1586