See? I was right. The game in
1. Carbonneau began the evening with a very avant-garde offensive strategy. Probably seeking to compensate for the lack of offense in the previous game, he decided to bench Begin and Kostopolous- two of our best penalty-killers and stronger defensive forwards- in favor of Grabovski and a re-forwarded Streit. Then he totally reimagined his lines (in no particular order, have fun trying to rank these trios): Plekanec-Kovalev-Higgins, Koivu-Smolinski-Streit, Grabovski-Kostitsyn-Ryder, and Chipchura-Latendresse-Dandenault. And at first, it looked like it was working. Guys who’d been struggling were scoring (Higgins, Plekanec, Latendresse), Kovalev and Chipchura were doing some of their nicest set-up work, and even Ryder looked like he was maybe having a little fun again. Chances were even, but Huet was hot and the D looked sharp enough, and I probably wasn’t the only one trying to avoid jinxing the whole thing by thinking ‘shutout’.
2. But then, suddenly, there was freakish shorthanded goal off a weird bounce and a not-entirely-atypical Huet puckhandling misjudgment, and not long thereafter, everything went to shit. Because it turns out that, sans Begin and Kostopolous, our penalty-killing is abysmal. However, it’s not like we haven’t seen this kind of defensive collapse before- once again, they gave up two goals in the last five minutes of play. I can see Carbonneau’s strategy here, once he thinks he’s got a solid lead, he starts pushing the team to fall back and play more cautiously, but the fact is that they’re not good at long stretches of defensive play in their own zone- they give up way too many good chances, overcrowd the goalie, take silly penalties, and just generally look like asses until they get a whistle or get scored on. This, maybe, is where we feel the loss of Bonk and Johnson most acutely, in that this season it seems like the Canadiens might actually be better defensively when they’re pushing the attack rather than trying to hold. Bottom line: the ‘defensive’ guys don’t really seem to be that much more reliable in the final seconds of a game than supposed liabilities like Kostitsyn.
3. I’m not sure how to evaluate Huet on this one. On the one hand, he was fantastic early on, and the Habs were once again badly outshot, mostly in the 3rd period. Those are good reasons not to blame the goalie. But to be critical, he seemed uncharacteristically rattled by that first goal, and it’d be easy to read his subsequent performance as a bit of a collapse. I’m torn. Anyone have any suggestions on this?
Probably best to keep this short, I’m not feeling a lot of love for ahbabi right now. It’s one thing to lose, it’s another thing to give away points like