Not that anyone in Montreal gives two hoots, I’m sure people in Toronto weren’t too happy with the makeshift defense that Claude Julien put on the ice against the Tampa Bay Lightning Friday night at the Bell Centre.
The Lightning took full advantage of what they were given by a defense that was without Shea Weber, Alexei Emelin and Jordie Benn to register a 4-2 win and move to within a point of the Leafs with a game against Buffalo remaining in their schedule. It appears Toronto is going to have to earn a playoff berth on their own with games in Pittsburgh and Columbus left on their schedule.
HELTER SKELTER –
While the Canadiens forwards had a fairly good night, the back end was a dog’s breakfast.
Handed major responsibilities, Brandon Davidson and Nikita Nesterov had terrible nights. Brett Lernout, who was recalled from St. John’s Thursday, may have been the best of the irregulars, which isn’t saying much. Lernout was playing in his second NHL game, separated by one year. Davidson was victimized on both the second and third Tampa goals and Nesterov continued to play like he is already planning for a career in the KHL starting in September. It makes one wonder if the Canadiens depth on defense might have been better served by retaining Mark Barberio or Zach Redmond. Not that simple of course. Just a random thought.
In reality this was closer to a 8-2 hockey game than the 4-2 final result. But for Carey Price the game could have been 4-0 by the ten minute mark of the first period. Price had to make ten-bell saves on eight of the first ten shots he faced. He ultimately gave up four goals for the first time since the last game of the Michel Therrien tenure on February 12th and still could have been given consideration for a game-star.
UP FRONT –
While the Canadiens back end had a dreadful night, up front it was a different story, Once they got their legs there were some strong performances especially from Pacioretty, Galchenyuk and Danault, a line that looked dangerous every time they were on the ice and appear absolutely ready to start the playoffs.
Another impressive night from Artturi Lehkonen who scored his 17th goal and sent Dwight King away on a breakaway for his first as a member of the Canadiens. That got him the game’s well-earned third star.
Alex Galchenyuk continues to be the least effective of the Canadiens forwards. He had no shots on goal and continues to look like a lost soul. This is not the way his game should look heading into the playoffs. Julien singled him out post game “It’s not question of the position he’s playing. It’s about his effort and how he should be playing.”
And the power play. What are they going to do about that? 0-for-4 again. Three goals in the last 34 times shorthanded, all three of them scored by defensemen. Another thing to think about going to the playoffs.
CLOSING IT OUT –
If you thought Claude Julien’s lineup was a mish-mash against Tampa, way until Saturday night in Detroit. Julien announced that, along with Carey Price and the injured Shea Weber and Alexei Emelin,Andrei Markov, Max Pacioretty and Alexander Radulov will not make the trip. Charlie Lindgren will start in goal and there’s a chance Jordie Benn will return to the lineup. After that, who knows how the lines and pairings are going to look except we’re going to see a lot of the likes of Martinsen, Torrey Mitchell, Steve Ott and Mike McCarron up front and Nesterov, Davidson and Lernout on defense.