Montreal Canadiens fans were floored last week as the Florida Panthers and the Ottawa Senators squandered two strong outings by their team. Even though they lost both games, they played with hustle and demonstrated some consistency that was previously lacking this season.
On Tuesday, Guillaume Latendresse and Steve Begin were healthy scratches as the Habs faced the Panthers.
Latendresse being benched was understandable, but many authorities were questioning head coach Guy Carbonneau’s decision to set aside Begin.
Chris Higgins played what was arguably his best game of the season; his game-play was unfortunately overshadowed by the Carbo-Kovalev situation.
The comment Kovalev made didn’t make much sense as he said that there should have been a time-out called in the last two minutes of the game, but Carbo never even had the chance to make that call because there was no whistle in the last two minutes.
Of course, the media-circus that plagues Montreal turned it into the season’s first ‘big scandal.’
This is part of the reason Montreal can’t attract more high profile players as nobody wants to become embedded in the press jungle that exists in this city. Last week’s situation with Kovalev simply reinforced that point. Granted, his frustration was understandable, as Komisarek’s penalty essentially led to the loss of what was otherwise a well-played game.
Also, it was hard to ignore the fact that Carbo had rookies on the ice for the final penalty kill, which was a questionable move in itself.
Meanwhile, Thursday was the Habs’ first encounter with the Sens’ snipers this season. Ottawa, which has been a dominant power to date this season, didn’t let up when the Canadiens paid them a visit.
The game didn’t get off to a great start, as Ottawa’s early goal didn’t exactly bode well for the rest of the game. Price’s performance wasn’t bad considering Ottawa’s goaltending coach was actually Price’s goaltending coach in the minors.
The kid still managed to stop 29 shots from the Ottawa powerhouse so despite the loss, his second performance of the season wasn’t a total disaster.
Latendresse also played well, it
appears that he got the message after being absent from Tuesday’s game. It was also nice to see Ryder come out to play and get his first goal of the season. Many would say that it was well overdue.
Despite the media frenzy from Tuesday’s comments, Kovalev knocked in the equalizer in the third period. Just twenty four seconds later, Ottawa took the lead again for good.
Even though the Habs ultimately lost the game they played hard throughout, skating well and getting to the net. It was a heartbreaking loss for Montreal, especially after Tuesday’s shootout fall to Florida.
The losing streak was finally snapped on Saturday as the Habs recorded their first home win by defeating Buffalo. Saturday’s game was all about the newbies, with Kyle Chipchura, Roman Hamrlik, Bryan Smolinski, and Mikhail Grabovski all putting up points. Hamrlik played especially well, registering a goal and two assists for three points on the night, as Chipchura scored his first NHL goal.
On a night that involved a few oddities, Montreal outhit Buffalo by a margin of almost 2-1. Markov was guilty of a rare giveaway that almost resulted in a goal from Buffalo, and Komisarek didn’t take any exceedingly ridiculous penalties – something he’s been guilty of several times this season.
Kovalev, however, did cause a powerplay for Buffalo late in the game. The boys managed to hold them off, thankfully, but penalties were among last week’s biggest issues with the team, particularly ones late in the game. This lack of discipline isn’t new, and has cost the team greatly in the past.
Latendresse was not as impressive as he was on Thursday. He managed to finish most of his hits, but he still wasn’t going to the net enough, and his timing was off on many plays.
Nevertheless, the Habs managed to demonstrate solid play all week. Although they lost two of three games, they seem to be showing more consistency.
After Monday’s win against Boston, Carolina and Pittsburgh are on the menu. I’m hoping last week’s hunger will continue on and the boys can register some more wins.
Check out next Tuesday’s Habs Report for a recap of week four.