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Game Day: Canadiens vs Blues

January 10, 2019, 11:05 PM ET [293 Comments]
Karine Hains
Montreal Canadiens Blogger • RSSArchiveCONTACT
This morning, Claude Julien decided to make some changes to his line-up. As the Blues are quite the chunky team, he decided to bring back Nicolas Deslauriers (who played his 300th NHL game tonight and Joel Armia played his 200th one) and Michael Chaput on the 4th line while Karl Alzer got to play with the big club for the first time since November 24. Carey Price was in goal again and hoping to close in on Jacques Plante's victory record.

Sadly, the Canadiens forgot to show up for the game. The first period was quite simply pathetic. It started rather badly when Shea Weber got a hi-sticking penalty to send the Blues to the power play a minutes and 14 seconds in. 42 seconds later, the puck was behind Carey Price and it would be there again less than 4 minutes before the end of the first frame this time while the Blues were shorthanded...just when you think the power play can't get any worse, it gives up a goal. The Habs had 10 shots on goal to the Blues' 9 but as we often say, it's not about quantity, it's about quality.

It looked like the Canadiens were going to wake up at the start of the second but perhaps they just turned in their sleep because the Blues made it 3-0 6 minutes in. The Habs were purely atrocious in the face-off circle especially on the penalty killing were the Blues pretty much won every single face off. It's hard to kill a power play when the other team starts with the puck and sets up its attack in your zone right away. The power play did manage to score to make it 3-1 through a Gallagher pass which deflected on a Blues defenseman, but beggars can't be choosers and as ugly as it was, that goal still counted. It was obvious that Max Domi was getting frustrated and was trying to find someone to dance with at one stage and I couldn't help but think about good old Gordon Bombay who said in the Mighty Ducks: "We're gonna hit them where it hurts, on the scoreboard!". Someone needs to say that to Domi, taking penalties is not the answer and never has been. St-Louis put another 10 shots on Price during this period and at the buzzer, the score still stood at 3-1. While that's only a two goal deficit, there was next to no chance of the Canadiens coming back in this one.

The third followed the same pattern, ineffective power plays, frustrated players that looked flat and seemed to already be back in Montreal. Jeff Petry had himself another bad night turnover wise, at one stage it looked like he was making as many turnovers as Price was making saves. Perhaps he's heard the rumblings about using him as trade bait at the deadline and he's decided that it wasn't happening. The official stats only give him 3 giveaways but I swear there were more than that, the RDS commentary guys actually mentioned that the stats guys in St-Louis were very kind in their turnover computation. The Blues added a 4th goal and when the final buzzer rang, they had won 66% of the face offs. This disgraceful defeat means that the Canadiens are again out of the playoff picture as they were overtaken by the Sabres who now have 2 games in hand.

It's also worth mentioning that the Blues were a man down for much of the game as Robert Thomas was hurt in the first and had to leave the game. As for the Canadiens, I must say, I don't know what Claude Julien and co. see in Joel Armia but I just don't see it. The fact that he's on the 1st line and on the 1st power play unit is just beyond comprehension. Yes, Drouin and Domi are currently struggling but they had a good stretch when they were playing with Andrew Shaw who plays a gritty game....Who else can play like this? That's right, Gallagher, why not give him a shot on the first line alongside the DDs? As for the second line, put Paul Byron on there, he's still the one guy who can play anywhere and make the most of it and put Armia back on the 3rd, I don't think he deserves to be higher than that.

The Habs will be back in action (although were they really in action tonight?) on Saturday night when they welcome the Avalanche into town. I don't know if you've seen the clip of the MacKinnon having an heated exchange with his coach but he could be fired up when the puck drops. Colorado is also struggling right now and have only won 2 of their last 10 games so there's nothing to worry about right? The Canadiens can handle a struggling team, just look how they dealt with the Blues...
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