Heading into Thursday's game, Montreal had the lowest goals per game in the NHL. They had scored the 4th fewest total goals in the league, and only 5 in their previous 4 games. So the United States sent goal-scoring-aid to our northern neighbors in the form of the Dallas Stars and the Canadiens tallied 5 because of it. The Stars come home having been outscored 22-8 in five January road games. They play 5 of their next 8 at home.
I won't bore you with the playoff math this morning. I don't think that's what people want to hear about right now. Actually, I'm not sure what you want to hear about right now.
It will be interesting to see if the Jamie Benn at center experiment gets any more time. The line was a collective -4 with no goals or assists. They tallied 7 shots on goal and Benn won only 2 of the 7 faceoffs he took. Of more concern is the fact that he got caught with his head down coming across the middle. A coaching experiment might not be worth the young mans health if he cannot keep better track of his surroundings. Meanwhile the Mike Modano/Toby Petersen combination, or "4th line" carried the offense. Go figure.
As humiliating as it should be to allow George Laraque his first goal (on his first two shots) of the season in 26 games, he is dealing with the earthquake in Haiti right now, where evidently his family is from. So that must have been a nice moment for him. Stephane Robidas appeared to score in front of friends and family last night, but the goal was deflected in by Steve Ott.
Defending Big D's Brandon Worley was in attendance at the Bell Center last night, and if his text messages were any indication he's going to have some interesting commentary on the game for us all tomorrow sometime, so be sure to check back.
Read on, if you dare, for Marc Crawfords' spin on the game and more quotes and reaction from Quebec or wherever...
We can say the Stars are only four or six points out of a playoff spot, but that means they are only four or six points from tying for that spot (and they will lose the tiebreaker against just about every team). They also are in a pack of five or six teams that are trying to earn one or two spots.
That means that if one or two of those teams goes on a hot streak, the Stars have to be even hotter.
And that seems like an impossible dream for this team right now.
They have two home games against Detroit and Minnesota _ teams they are fighting directly for playoff position. They need some wins.
So let them prove that this loss was a stepping stone.
I don't know that losses can be stepping stones on January 15th when you've lost this many on the road. That's more of an October 27th kind of thing for players to say. I hope the team truly believes they can be "stepping stone games".
Razor was on the The Ticket this morning in Dallas and remarked how silent the bus rides are. He painted a grim picture.
I’d like to be team positive here and point out all the good things they did Thursday night and say, "Golly gee, this was a good effort and the best one they’ve rolled out on the road during this dismal streak." But I can’t because it really wasn’t and end result shows it wasn’t. They lost the goaltending battle, they lost the special teams battle and they got outscored at even strength too. They gave up five goals to a team that struggles to score on most nights. The only positive is that it wasn’t as ugly as the Philadelphia loss or the loss to the Rangers, but it was still a loss for a team that desperately needs some wins.
This was a game they were in a position to win or at least get a point, but couldn’t find a way to get it done through a variety of ways, which has been the reason they have lost six of their last seven games overall and are now just two games over .500. Whether it’s not getting the big save, or making the costly turnover or not staying disciplined or any combination of them that is killing them right now.
Somebody who was sent down recently made his first appearance with the Stars since the calendar flipped over to 2010. I won't tell you his name, but I will give his line tonight. Let's see if you can guess who I'm talking about!
13:17 of ice time, 17 shifts, no shots with one attempt blocked and another missing the net, and two hits.
Like he never even left the club.
That's Fabian Brunnstrom, folks. What happened to 17 goals as a rookie? What happened there?
Gionta scored two power-play goals, including the winner, as the Canadiens defeated the slumping Dallas Stars 5-3 last night at the Bell Centre.
Gionta snapped a 3-3 deadlock when he beat Marty Turco at 7:14 of the third period. Turco made the initial save on Benoit Pouliot's shot off the rush, but Gionta made a beeline to the net and scored on the rebound.
Michael Cammalleri iced the win when he scored his 21st goal of the season at 16:41 of the third period.
The win moved the Habs back into eighth place in the Eastern Conference and they're in a position to move up with two big games this weekend. They are tied in points with the Ottawa Senators, who will visit the Bell Centre tomorrow night (7 p.m., CBC, RDS, CJAD Radio-800). On Sunday, they travel to New York to play the sixth-place Rangers, who are one point ahead of Montreal.
Carey Price stopped 33 shots to snap a two-game skid. It was only his second win in eight starts, dating to Dec. 10.
In 22 games with the Wild, Latendresse has notched 10 goals and 6 assists. His "coming out party", so to speak, came earlier this week against Pittsburgh, in which a four point game against the Stanley Cup holders had fans shaking their heads, backtracking in double talk. If Latendresse were to maintain his Minnesota numbers over a season's course, an 82 game tally would read 37 goals and 22 assists. Pouliot's impact on the Montreal scene was however, not as immediate. With a wrist injury at the time of the trade, he required a rehabiliation period before a short conditioning stint with the AHL Hamilton Bulldogs that saw the winger post 3 points in as many games. He would go pointless in his first two games in his new uni, making a strong first impression alongside center Scott Gomez and a variety of wingers. In 10 games since joining the lineup, Pouliot has now hit for five goals and an assist, which places him on a 41 goal pace over a season's worth of games. What has been most impressive though, is how well Pouliot has acclimated to the line since Brian Gionta's return from injury.
In 22 games with the Wild, Latendresse has notched 10 goals and 6 assists. His "coming out party", so to speak, came earlier this week against Pittsburgh, in which a four point game against the Stanley Cup holders had fans shaking their heads, backtracking in double talk.
If Latendresse were to maintain his Minnesota numbers over a season's course, an 82 game tally would read 37 goals and 22 assists.
Pouliot's impact on the Montreal scene was however, not as immediate. With a wrist injury at the time of the trade, he required a rehabiliation period before a short conditioning stint with the AHL Hamilton Bulldogs that saw the winger post 3 points in as many games.
He would go pointless in his first two games in his new uni, making a strong first impression alongside center Scott Gomez and a variety of wingers.
In 10 games since joining the lineup, Pouliot has now hit for five goals and an assist, which places him on a 41 goal pace over a season's worth of games. What has been most impressive though, is how well Pouliot has acclimated to the line since Brian Gionta's return from injury.
"We were better," coach Marc Crawford said. "For our team, I thought our effort was pretty good tonight. When you get effort and you get people battling it's not too long after that that you start to build some belief in what you're doing.
"I'm a believer in the hockey gods. Sometimes when you're in a bad spell they don't let you get out of it easy, they want to see you do it a couple of times. So we've got to build on the effort we had tonight."
"I thought [Modano] had a lot of energy and a lot of jump, and I think Petersen has been one of our best players for the last little while," Crawford said. "To me, we have three second lines."
"We're doing a lot of good things, and we have for a long time, but the overall team defense has to be better," said goalie Marty Turco, who finished with 23 saves after allowing five goals on 19 shots to the Flyers before being yanked in favor of Alex Auld. "That starts with myself. I have to start making better saves to give these guys a chance to win hockey games."
"We did some good things, but it's so hard to get things turned around," defenseman Stephane Robidas said. "We had good effort and we had some good moments, but we made too many mistakes again."
"It's neat to do it here," Modano said. "There's certainly a lot of history here in Montreal and a lot of great things have happened here over the course of my career. There's an atmosphere like no other in the league, I think."
I had intended on putting a real downer of a stat in this next space, but I found something different. The Devils are 15-6 at home this year, but the Stars next 4 road opponents are a combined 36-36-12 at home. A nice .500 home mark evenly distributed amongst the Rangers (9-10-3), Montreal (9-10-2), Columbus (9-7-5) and Philadelphia (9-9-2). So at least there's a bright side to counterpoint the overwhelmingly bad Dallas Stars road trends: They have a chance.
So much for those teams being mediocre at home (and my misguided attempt at being optimistic)