The Engels Angle: Hard Luck for Habs Despite Dominance
Buffalo Sabres left wing Nathan Gerbe (42) falls over Montreal Canadiens defenseman P.K. Subban (76) in front of Montreal Canadiens goalie Carey Price (31) during first period National Hockey League actionTuesday, October 18, 2011 in Montreal.THE CANADIAN PRESS/Ryan Remiorz
Published Wednesday, October 19, 2011 9:50AM EDT
MONTREAL - Sometimes you can do 100 things right, but the two you do wrong end up biting you.
A win wasn't in the cards for the Canadiens last night.
It wasn't for lack of will and though poor execution is usually to blame when a strong effort doesn't net a win, in this case, luck just wasn't on their side.
They can choose to sulk in this 3-1 loss and the 1-3-1 start to the season, or they can note the progression in their play from game-to-game and recognize that they could just as easily be 3-1-1.
Such is life in the parity of the National Hockey League.
On the negative side of the spectrum, the Canadiens scored one goal on 41 shots--so many of them quality opportunities.
Josh Gorges iced a puck in the dying seconds of a period the Canadiens absolutely dominated.
David Desharnais lost the ensuing faceoff to the second best faceoff-man in the league (Paul Gaustad), Andrei Kostitsyn missed his assignment on the play and Carey Price over-committed, giving Thomas Vanek an open look at a shot he rarely misses.
Before all of that, Price let the Sabres back into play by kicking a harmless shot out to the middle of the ice where Jordan Leopold sat ready to deposit for his team's first goal.
All of that effort through two periods, and the Canadiens had a 2-1 deficit to show for it.
Of the many quality opportunities the team generated, too few of them came from Scott Gomez and Erik Cole.
Too many were on Gionta or Plekanec's stick, without consequence to Ryan Miller who was superb.
-When Josh Gorges iced that puck, it was an obvious cause for concern. But with Desharnais, Pacioretty and Kostitsyn forced to stay on the ice you almost thought the Canadiens would be fine, regardless. I did.
Hard luck, as I said.
-That was as dominant of a performance by that line as any we've seen from the Canadiens top players over the last two seasons. They put on a magic show last night, with Pacioretty taking centre-stage.
-Injuries and hard luck are part of the game. Of this, who knows better than the Canadiens?
Last season, Carey Price authored one of the best comebacks in NHL history.
From down in the dumps, with more pressure on him than most would ever like to deal with for a day in their lives, let alone every day, he rose to the cream of the league.
This season, Max Pacioretty is starting to author the NHL's best comeback story.
That he's playing is already a phenomenal start.
That he's playing--by far--the best hockey of his career (regardless of his output) is just amazing to watch, and a feel good story for all hockey fans.
-Kostitsyn and Desharnais were both unreal as well, and they are the beneficiaries of Pacioretty's dominance in both ends of the rink.
-Alexei Emelin was smashing bodies, blocking shots and clearing pucks, lending credence to the idea that he now understands his role on the team.
-Raphael Diaz scored the first of what should be many NHL goals for him. I call him Montreal's Rafa. Vamos!
-The Canadiens held the Sabres to 22 shots. Eighteen of them were harmless.
If the playoffs started today, the Canadiens, Bruins and Rangers would be on the outside looking in. Add in the Canucks, Sharks, Predators and Blues from the Western Conference.