MONTREAL, QC.– You play like you practise. We’ve all heard that phrase many times before. On Wednesday, at the Bell Sports Complex in Brossard, the mood was very loose. Perhaps that was understandable given the emotional win against the Chaicago Blackhawks the previous night. But couple that with a lack of focus and drills that had little structure and lacked purpose, and the stage was set for the Canadiens performance in Ottawa. We went from witnessing one of the best games of the year on Tuesday night to one of the worst. It was a pathetic effort by the Canadiens and painful to watch. Some compared it to a pre-season game, but that wasn’t it at all — there is more intensity in an exhibition game with players competing for a spot on the opening day roster. Thursday night’s debacle was more like an All-Star game, where they forgot to invite the All-Stars. The Canadiens were on cruise control not looking the least bit interested in being there. After the game, Mike Cammalleri didn’t seem concerned with the lack of effort saying, “It wasn’t the biggest catastrophe by any means but we could have been a little sharper, for sure.” So perhaps it’s not such a big deal. You would think, however, that coach Jacques Martin would like to see his team entering the playoffs with confidence and momentum. And there was the small matter of solidifying sixth place and avoiding a date with the hottest team in the Eastern conference, the Washington Capitals. But it was clear that the match against Ottawa was a meaningless game in the minds of the Canadiens. Cammalleri continued his post-game comments by looking back to Tuesday. “Since we clinched last game, it’s been an overall feeling of excitement. The guys are almost a little giddy,” said Cammalleri. The phrase “giddy as schoolgirls” is probably a stretch but the Canadiens definitely took a less than serious approach to meeting the Senators. Some will say that the Canadiens went with a weakened lineup to rest players. Yannick Weber was put in an awkward position playing forward in place of Travis Moen. Jaroslav Spacek returning after missing 23 games with a knee injury should have been an upgrade over an ailing Brent Sopel. Alex Auld gave Carey Price a night off, but the Canadiens backup wasn’t to be faulted for the loss. In truth, with a couple of minor changes, this is the Montreal lineup that will begin the playoffs in one week’s time. And let’s not forget that Ottawa was icing an AHL-caliber squad. The goal by Cammalleri on a brilliant pass by Andrei Kostitsyn with 10.1 seconds remaining was a sliver of positive news. The resulting one point combined with a bit of good fortune (New York Rangers loss) means that the Habs can finish no lower than seventh. But jostling at the top and bottom of the Eastern standings means that the Canadiens first round opponent is unlikely to be known until the weekend. The Canadiens hit the road for the final two games of the regular season heading to Ottawa for a game on Thursday with the finale against the Maple Leafs on Saturday in Toronto. Plus/Minus ▲ Andrei Kostitsyn was the best of the Habs leading his team in hits (3) and shots (6). He also had an assist. ▲ Mike Cammalleri seems to have found his scoring touch in the nick of time. After a sub-par season, Cammalleri has three goals and three assists in the past five games. ▲ Lars Eller seemed immune to the general malaise that had befallen the team. Eller brought energy to every shift. ▼ It wasn’t a good night for the Canadiens top defensive pair of Hal Gill and P.K. Subban. The duo was on the ice for both Ottawa goals in regulation time and were ineffective. ▼ Montreal centers were a combined two for 11 in faceoffs in the first period. They finished the game at just 33 percent at the faceoff dot. ▼ The Canadiens are the lowest scoring team entering the playoffs. They will need a great deal of help from their power-play which looked anemic in Ottawa. The Canadiens failed to get a shot on goal with a five-minute advantage in the third period. ▼ The coach, Jacques Martin, has to take a large share of responsibility for the outcome of this game. The players seemed ill-prepared to take this game seriously. There were also a few curious personnel moves. With the talk about resting players, Martin continued to heap a heavy load on the aging Roman Hamrlik who had 21:28 of ice-time. Early in the calendar year, Yannick Weber was consistently one of the Canadiens top defenseman. Sitting him in the press box for an extended stretch and tossing him in a utility role last night is criminal. All Habs game stars 1. Andrei Kostitsyn 2. James Wisniewski 3. Brian Gionta Roster notes Travis Moen, Brent Sopel and Alexandre Picard were healthy scratches. Jeff Halpern and Max Pacioretty were out with injuries. Andrei Markov and Josh Gorges are out for the season with a knee injuries.
Category: Game review