Senators-Canadiens: Ottawa Shuts Down Habs' Vaunted Power Play

Rocket All HabsCorrespondent IJanuary 16, 2010

MONTREAL- JANUARY 16:  Alexei Kovalev #27 of the Ottawa Senators skates with the puck while being defended by Roman Hamrlik #44 of the Montreal Canadiens during the NHL game on January 16, 2010 at the Bell Centre in Montreal, Quebec, Canada.  The Senators defeated the Canadiens 4-2.  (Photo by Richard Wolowicz/Getty Images)
Richard Wolowicz/Getty Images

Montreal 2 Ottawa 4 (Bell Centre)

posted by Rocket
All Habs

Carey Price allowed three goals. Ottawa Senators won the game.

For Price-haters, you can forego the rest of the article. You have read the words that will keep you blissfully immersed in your delusion. The rest of us will look at the real reasons that the Canadiens were on the losing side tonight.

The post-game rhetoric from those in the anti-Price camp was pathetic, mindless and misplaced, yet unfortunately, predictable.

From his perspective, coach Jacques Martin said, "Our goaltending was excellent. Special teams was the difference...not our goaltender."

I will agree with Martin's second sentence wholeheartedly, as the Canadiens power-play was awful tonight, and was the primary reason that the Habs lost the game. But I'm not sure I would use the word "excellent" to describe the goaltending.

Price made some big saves and cannot be faulted on the three Ottawa goals. It can be said that, uncharacteristically, Price's rebound control, was not sharp. The irony of that is probably lost on his critics.

For the first Ottawa goal, we can point the finger at Benoit Pouliot for his brutal giveaway.

It was a Pouliot mistake again ahead of Ottawa's second goal. He was soft on Mike Fisher as the Senator crossed into the Montreal zone.

Pouliot curled instead of taking the puck carrier. Fisher made an easy pass to Matt Carkner. Carkner's point shot was stopped by Price but Daniel Alfredsson was all alone to bury the rebound.

Gorges was caught out of position and got tangled with Nick Foligno on the left edge of the crease. Markov was unable to come across quickly enough to cover Gorges' spot.

The third Ottawa goal started on a Matt D'Agostini giveaway to Alex Kovalev. Kovalev's feed was shot by Chris Phillips from the point. The shot went off the stick of Tomas Plekanec and high into the net.

"I’ll take it,” Phillips said. “You know, you’ve got to be lucky to be good.”

Giveaways were a problem throughout the game but most evident in the second and third period. Poorly executed passes and disorganized play gave the Canadiens the dubious honour of holding a 30-to-12 advantage in giveaways.

The Habs also had a 24-to-14 advantage when it came to firing pucks into opposition shin guards. When reversed the statistic is known as blocked shots, but it seemed that the Canadiens weren't working very hard to get into good shooting lanes.

Other than those two categories, the statistical comparison was relatively equal. For their part, the Senators had their own mistakes.

Mike Brodeur played well but wasn't challenged with high quality scoring chances and gave up a soft goal to Tomas Plekanec. The Senators took far too many penalties but the Canadiens couldn't capitalize.

Despite a reasonably well-played first period, the Canadiens resumed bad habits from the start of the second period and continued the sloppy play displayed in the Dallas game.

Assistant coach Kirk Muller said that the Canadiens allowed Ottawa to dictate the flow and pace of the game. Muller also said that the Habs were too nonchalant against aggressive Ottawa penalty-killers.

The Canadiens power-play was 0-for-6 and gave up a short-handed goal. It was completely ineffective against the Ottawa defenders, who pressured the puck carrier. As coach Martin said, the Habs' power-play was the difference in the outcome of the game.

On a positive note Matt D'Agostini had one of his better games in quite some time. D'Agostini was much better in the offensive zone, and was second only to Mike Cammalleri in shots on goal with five.

For his part, Cammalleri continues to struggle mightily with Andrei Kostitsyn not in the lineup to create sapce for him. Despite his poor play in the defensive zone, Benoit Pouliot had a goal on a nice setup from Scott Gomez.

For this game, fans should blame the loss on: the Canadiens inability to move the puck; their defensive zone coverage; the power-play; or the coaching strategy. Anything else would be misplaced criticism.

The Habs left immediately after the game for New York where they will play on Sunday night.

Rocket's three stars

1. Daniel Alfredsson
2. Tomas Plekanec
3. Mike Fisher

Material from wire services was used in this report.

(photo credit: Getty)