Montreal 2 Colorado 3 (Bell Centre)
posted by Rocket
"The refs cost the Habs a win." "We got all the bad bounces." "The Canadiens deserved better."
There were plenty of explanations by the Habs faithful for the Canadiens failure to win their home opener at the Bell Centre. Perhaps each of them contained a grain of truth, but were they the reason for the loss?
It wasn't a banner night for Dave Jackson, Mark Joannette, and the rest of the NHL officiating crew. Habs fans noticed inconsistency and missed calls especially the hit from behind on Scott Gomez just prior to the third goal by the Avalanche.
To be fair, it should be acknowledged that the referees didn't count the seven men on the ice either for the Canadiens at the end the game. In addition, the Canadiens second goal was scored just after the puck went out of play and made contact with the mesh above the glass. Again, it was missed by the on-ice officials.
There were some odd bounces. The first two goals by the Avalanche went off the skates of Canadiens' defensemen, Josh Gorges and Shawn Belle, before finding their way into the net.
However, it's easy to blame bad luck. If Guillaume Latendresse had taken the body instead of attempting a weak stick check in the neutral zone on Kyle Cumiskey, the puck wouldn't have made it to the front of the Habs net for Colorado's second goal.
Likewise, focusing on the head shot to Gomez neglects the fact that Belle made a terrible decision to leave the front of the net to chase a hit in the corner. Ryan O'Reilly was left all alone in front of Price and had two chances to score the winner.
Costly errors were a problem again for the Canadiens. Unlike the Western road swing, Jacques Martin did not confine Belle and Latendresse to the bench for their mistakes. Some were left to wonder if a double standard exists. It is fair to ask when the wrath of coach Martin will find Max Lapierre who has not yet shown up to play this season.
There was evidence that the drills from this week's practises were paying dividends. Passing was better. The Habs moved the puck more crisply out of their own end. Special teams' play was improved.
Montreal's second line was a force all game long with Tomas Plekanec and Andrei Kostitsyn combining for four points. Max Pacioretty had one of his best games of the season. Roman Hamrlik also played well with a goal on four shots and more than 25 minutes of icetime.
The Canadiens couldn't sustain a solid effort for all three periods. The second period was their downfall. Montreal couldn't generate any offense at even strength. Colorado outshot Montreal 11-to-6 and scored twice. "Those 20 minutes cost us the game," said Brian Gionta. "We're not putting 60 minutes together. We haven't had a full effort yet."
It's not about luck or the officials. The Habs need hard work from all four lines for a full game. As Mike Cammalleri said, "I don't think we're doing enough to win games. I don't think we should leave things to chance."
Montreal plays next on Saturday night as Alex Kovalev comes to town with the Senators.
Canadiens' starting six: Plekanec, A. Kostitsyn, Cammalleri, Spacek, Hamrlik, Price
During the opening ceremony, Canadiens players took the microphone and introduced themselves: "Je suis..." It was an interesting touch!
Gomez, Gionta, Moen
Plekanec, Andrei Kostitsyn, Cammalleri
Lapierre, Latendresse, Pacioretty
Chipchura, D'Agostini, Laraque
Carey Price starts in goal for the Canadiens, Craig Anderson makes his seventh straight start for the Avalanche.
Scratches: Stewart, Markov (ankle), Metropolit (ribs), O'Byrne (knee)
Rocket's three stars
1. Kyle Cumiskey
2. Tomas Plekanec
3. Andrei Kostitsyn
(photo credit: Getty images)
Montreal 2 Colorado 3 (Bell Centre)