The Engels Angle: Habs fall short on Long Island
New York Islanders goalie Rick DiPietro celebrates with teammates after defeating the Montreal Canadiens 4-3. Nov. 17, 2011. (AP Photo/Kathy Willens)
By Eric Engels
Published Friday, November 18, 2011 8:17AM EST
MONTREAL - The Canadiens managed to make this game closer than it appeared it was going to be after the Islanders scored three unanswered goals in the second period, but not close enough in the end.
The 4-3 Islanders win pushed the Canadiens a step off their ascent up the Eastern Conference playoff picture, and while many will point to the inexperience of the Canadiens' blue line as their downfall in this one, it's not a completely accurate portrayal of why the team lost.
Peter Budaj was excellent in the first period, when his team forced him to be after giving up several quality scoring chances, but the dam broke early in the second period when Budaj ventured out of his net to bobble stopping a shoot-in from rimming around the boards. The puck broke free to P.A. Parenteau who deposited his easiest score of the season.
Less than two minutes later, the Islanders were celebrating Jay Pandolfo's first goal of the season and the Canadiens were reeling.
Two would lead to three before the Canadiens managed two quick strikes of their own.
All it took was 37-seconds for Matt Moulson to fire a harmless puck at Budaj. P.K. Subban showed a clear lack of confidence in his netminder trying to deflect the harmless shot out of the way with his stick, instead it ended up being the winning goal of the hockey game.
Players did their best, Coaches failed them
Let me count the ways:
1) Peter Budaj was hardly the reason they lost this game, but anyone could see how uncomfortable his team looked in front of him, as if they had no confidence in his ability to stop the puck once the floodgates opened in the second period.
Early or late-period goals are usually killers in any hockey game, and after two got in before the second frame was less than four minutes old, Jacques Martin could've used the opportunity to call time out and settle the troops.
The third goal, scored by Mark Streit, was a complete coverage disaster for the Canadiens, making them appear to be disorganized, confused and resigned to losing a game that was well within reach from the onset.
2) That third goal was an opportunity for Martin to stop the bleeding and get Carey Price in the net while the game was still within reach. He elected not to make that move, and as a result, Subban's attempt at goaltending on the fourth cost them the game.
3) There are seven forwards on the team (including Scott Gomez and Travis Moen) that played more than Erik Cole did in this one. Name a forward (aside from Pacioretty) that's played better than Cole has over the last eight games.
4) Where was Max Pacioretty in the final two minutes of the hockey game, when the Canadiens sustained a great deal of pressure in the Islanders' end? He was glued to the bench until there were seven seconds remaining.
5) You know who wasn't glued to the bench during that time? Mr. Two Assists on the Year.
P.S. He was a deserved -2 on the night.
Tougher challenge ahead
We can give the team a pass for losing in Long Island. As I mentioned, the players tried their best. They played hard and created enough chances to win the game, but this one was sloppy by the coaches, and sometimes the do deserve the blame they are often handed after losses that should be wins.
Either way, the Canadiens move on from playing a New York team that had won just one of their previous seven games, to a New York team that has won each of their last seven games.
Carey Price will have the opportunity to extend his shutout streak come Saturday night, and the Habs will see if they can close out a busy week with two wins and two losses.