Although the Habs' loss on home ice Wednesday was disappointing, you would be hard-pressed to find anyone overly surprised by the end result. The Canadiens lost Thomas Plekanec, unquestionably their best forward and Jeff Halpern well before the 30-minute mark. The team was without shot-blocking machine Brent Sopel and was once again without the previously surging Max Pacioretty. Finally and perhaps most-disturbingly, Travis Moen was once again playing big minutes.
Of course, their opponents had just as much to do with the loss as the Habs did. Over the past month, the Capitals have been the hottest team in the National Hockey League. With an 8-0 run, they had metamorphisized themselves from a middle-of-the-pack-team to a President's Trophy contender.
Braden Holtby is currently doing his best Jaroslav Halak impersonation (circa 2007). Mike Knuble is scoring again and Marcus Johansson is developing into a bonafide NHLer. Oh ya and Alex Ovechkin is once again one of the most dominant players in the world. It should also be noted that they had turned their season around without the help of number one center Nicklas Backstrom, or their most dangerous offensive defenseman in Mike Green.
Lets take a look at the Good, the Bad and the Ugly from the Canadiens' performance in last night's contest.
Carey Price was the only thing keeping this game from turning into a blowout. Price's big saves in the first and second periods gave his team a chance to steal the game. With 37 saves on 41 shots, Price only further cemented his place among the league's elite netminders and clearly belongs in the Vezina Trophy discussion.
David Desharnais was not very good last night. The diminutive forward likely had difficulty adjusting to his increased minutes and new linemates. Desharnais was responsible for the third Washington goal due to his losing track of Marcus Johansson in the slot. Desharnais missed an open net and was unable to click with Mike Cammalleri.
Speaking of Mike Cammalleri, the six million dollar man was terrible against the Capitals. Cammalleri had only one shot on goal and was a minus two. He had trouble receiving passes and always seemed either ahead of or behind the play. If this team is to have any serious success down the road, they will need their most dangerous sniper to start lighting the lamp with more regularity.
What Needs to Change
Travis Moen cannot be relied upon as a primary scoring threat. Yes, he scored last night. Yes, he has two goals in as many games. No, he cannot keep this up. Moen has never been able to score like a top-six forward, so it isn't realistic that he will suddenly be able start. Perhaps the team can benefit from Andrei Kostitsyn's sudden realization that he is in a contract year.