A few months ago, Montreal Canadiens fans were laughing about a young Byelorussia player who decided to make the Phoenix-Los Angeles trip on his own, frustrated of being a healthy scratch the game before.
Tonight, the Montreal players might have to consider the same option, as it will be quite difficult to get some sleep: Guy Carbonneau’s red furious eyes will be lighting up the whole plane.
Mikhail Grabovski recorded one goal and one assist, leading the Toronto Maple Leafs in a 6-3 win over the oldest franchise of the League.
There is not much to say, other than the goaltending couldn’t score, the forwards couldn’t make the saves and the defensemen couldn’t…hum, just couldn’t. Brief, it didn’t go well.
But let’s face it: It had to happen sooner or later.
The Montreal Canadiens have been playing catch-up hockey for the last few games.
Most times, it has been more about adapting to the opponent’s type of play rather than imposing their own. And running around, wondering where the puck is, to finally sit on the penalty bench simply doesn’t work in a men’s league.
Playing as such against long time rivals, they are not going to miss their occasion to show who's boss in their arena.
It was a wake-up call for the Montreal Canadiens. The kind that is painful but necessary. The kind that gives coach Carbonneau whiter hair every day. The kind that breaks the fun.
As the game kept going, I was wondering if it wasn’t better to dress Larry Robinson and Yvan Cournoyer, as the centenary celebrating team hadn’t much to celebrate.
Even though they tied the game twice, the Montreal Canadiens have been outplayed on most aspects of the game. It was like watching Disney on Ice but without the outfits!
Carey Price made 35 saves in the loss, as opposed to 17 for Vesa Toskala. It gives you an idea of the rhythm of the game, doesn't it?
For the smaller things, but nonetheless important, the Habs’ face-offs guru, Saku Koivu won only 50 percent of the face-offs. Robert Lang was even less productive, winning just two out of eleven.
Notes from aside:
01:38 was Tom Kostopoulos’s time on ice for the night. He got the “full-penalty package” (boarding, roughing, game misconduct) after a hit on Van Ryn.
The hit will be reviewed by the NHL disciplinary commission. Van Ryn suffers a fracture on a hand and on his nose.
With an assist tonight, Alex Kovalev matches the exact number of points he had after twelve games last season, that is twelve.
Sergei Kostitsyn got a ten minute misconduct by the end of the game. He apparently couldn’t take it anymore to see former team-mate Grabovski parading along the ice with his two points; while the Habs didn’t even have enough legs to reach their bench.
The three stars of the post-game quotes:
First star for the one that says it all:
“It was my most embarrassing game since I have been behind the Canadiens’ bench in two and a half years.” – Guy Carbonneau, MTL
Second star for the most inspiring one:
“We know in here that we can play with any team in this league. There's no doubt about it, that's one of the best teams in the league." – Matt Stajan, TOR
Third star for the payback time allusion:
"For sure he (Mikhail Grabovski) wanted to show the coach and show the other players on the team that he is a good player." – Niklas Hagman, TOR
"(Grabovski) respects Koivu and he's the only guy in the Montreal room he respects. He thinks Koivu is a super special guy and hockey player. He just doesn't pay attention to the rest of them." - Alexei Ponikarovsky, TOR
With tonight’s performance, should we expect a few line changes from coach Carbonneau?
Pic: Mikhail Grabovski, as a Montreal Canadiens
Sources for this article: La Presse, NHL.com, Habs InsideOut