When will the Montreal Canadiens learn their lesson?
Looks like that will be in 2022-23.
A horrific first period created a hole that proved impossible to climb out of. The Washington Capitals didn’t have to work all that hard to beat the Habs 6-3 last night.
Another blowout. In embarrassing fashion. After a win.
Where is the pride?
The Montreal Canadiens are taking Jekyll and Hyde performances to a whole other level this season.
Left their hearts in the hotel room
The Habs were there in body in the first period. But certainly not in spirit.
The term men against boys is far too kind to describe the Canadiens opening twenty minutes. The Caps simply wanted to play hockey more. Winning hockey that is.
Again, Jeff Petry had a particularly disastrous start. It wasn’t Alex Ovechkin or Evgeny Kuznetsov who blew past the Habs defenceman. It was Nic Dowd who turned Petry into a turnstile with a basic drive to the outside. The Canadiens defender barely even touched Dowd as he drove around the Habs net. Goaltender Jake Allen didn’t exactly cover himself in glory as he was beaten high to the short side. Yet again, the Canadiens found themselves down by one within the first five minutes of the game.
Did that wake the Habs from their slumber? Nope.
The Canadiens played like the game was already over.
After several turnovers in his own zone, Petry took the first penalty of the game with a lazy trip on Carl Hagelin. The Habs overplayed the white-hot Ovechkin on the penalty kill and gave Evgeny Kuznetsov all day on the opposite side. He put a pass right in John Carlson’s wheelhouse. His drive deflected off of Cedric Paquette and beat Allen blocker side, top shelf.
And the rout was on.
Season in a nutshell
Before the period was over, the hockey gods had some fun with the Montreal Canadiens. To the dismay of fans everywhere.
Paquette picked up a loose puck in the slot. The Habs forward tried to lift the puck on the backhand into the neutral zone. Instead, it took a tragic bounce off of Michael Sgarbossa towards Allen’s net.
But that wasn’t enough. The puck decided to take another weird turn off of Alexander Romanov’s leg and snuck past Allen’s short side to make it 3-0. After that, it was bowed heads and exasperated faces on the Habs bench.
Those same hockey gods showed some compassion before the period came to an end. A carom off of two Washington skates found Jake Evans in the slot. His quick shot bounced and fluttered past Ilya Samsonov to make it 3-1.
Just over a minute later, a truly abysmal 20 minutes mercifully came to a close.
Can’t play worse
It would have been a challenge for the Montreal Canadiens to play worse than they did to start the game. Either that or embarassingly the Capitals took pity on them. Ovehckin did as he seemingly refused to shoot the puck from prime scoring areas, trying to pick out teammates with a perfect pass.
The Habs skated. They completed passes. They looked like professional hockey players instead of a peewee team getting bullied in all three zones.
But another blown coverage in their defensive zone left Kuznetsov wide open next to Allen’s goal. The Russian could have put the kettle on, put his feet up, turned on the TV and then one-handed the puck into the net to make it 4-1.
At the halfway mark, the shots were 21-8 for the home team.
Goal for Cole
One of the few positives was Cole Caufield finally scoring his first of the season off a fortuitous bounce from off the glass behind the Capitals net.
If you stuck threw that game to the end, you watched the Canadiens give up five or more goals for the ninth time this season. They’ve played 21 games. Tom Wilson and Dmitri Orlov got in on the scoring fun and Artturi Lehkonen picked up his second goal of the season to give him eight points in his past eight games.
Outclassed. Outmatched. Outgunned.
But the unacceptable part of the Habs loss?
They were outworked.
The Montreal Canadiens are next in action on Friday night against the Buffalo Sabres in their first game of a back-to-back. They face the Pittsburgh Penguins on Saturday night.