Montreal 0, Nashville 2 (Sommet Arena)
posted by Rocket
Canadiens coach Jacques Martin may have been hired for his language skills but not because he is a good quote. On his goaltender's effort, Martin was master of the obvious, "He performed well, there is no doubt."
Martin was describing Carey Price's 53-save performance that tied a Canadiens franchise record first set by Wayne Thomas in March 1974 vs. the Pittsburgh Penguins. Price was brilliant with numerous highlight reel saves.
Price turned away the Predators, who were on a shot per minute pace for the first two periods.
Granted, tonight's game was not in the same class as Team Canada's 47-0 win over Denmark at the 1949 World Hockey Championships in Stockholm.
Yet, shot totals of 24-to-4 after one period, and 42-to-10 after two are indicative of the lopsided level of play.
Pekka Rinne commented on the lack of Habs' shots saying, "I should have brought my iPod." Indeed. Or perhaps he could have been live tweeting from the crease. Hmm.
With Price making save after save, the Canadiens found themselves only one goal down for most of the game. Steve Sullivan scored his second goal of the game on a 5-on-3 power play with just over seven minutes left in the game.
As coach Martin said, "It's unfortunate that his (Price) teammates didn't take advantage of a performance like that."
Predators coach Barry Trotz chalked it up to a solid game plan. "You break down teams' defense when you put it on net. They are scrambling for pucks, they are reaching, and we are being firm in their offensive zone."
But let's not confuse Nashville with a contender. Coming into tonight's game, the Predators were tied for last in the league in goals with 37.
While the Predators can be credited for their offensive pressure, the Canadiens didn't even look like they were trying. Besides Price, Tomas Plekanec and Jay Leach are the only two players who deserve a positive mention.
Guillaume Latendresse was supposed to spend tonight's game in the press box but got the equivalent of a last-minute call from the governor when Brian Gionta couldn't play.
So what did Latendresse do with the reprieve? It was another uninspired effort leaving the coach no option but to limit his ice-time to just under eight minutes.
Similarly, Max Lapierre was given the opportunity to start on the first line to fill the spot of Gionta. Lapierre was not up to the task and promptly found himself on the fourth line.
Travis Moen and Tom Pyatt were the recipients of extra minutes. Even Ryan White got a turn on the no. 1 line. Andrei Kostitsyn was invisible.
Jaroslav Spacek, still suffering the effects of his leg injury, was not himself. Marc-Andre Bergeron was, which meant two egregious giveaways in the first 10 minutes of the game.
Roman Hamrlik continues to log huge minutes but that is no excuse that both he and Spacek gave up on the play that led to the first Nashville goal. Sullivan was left alone to pot his own rebound after Price made the initial save. It was downhill from there.
Injuries aside, the talent level on the Canadiens is not as poor as this team looked tonight. Perhaps after the 20-game mark, it's time for the coach to find a way to get the best out of his players.
Rocket's three stars
1. Carey Price
2. Steve Sullivan
3. Shea Weber