Saturday March 25, 2011
Montreal Canadiens vs. Washington Capitals
The Habs propensity to “show up for the big games” seems to have flip flopped in the last bunch of games. After going on a tear to start the month of March, winning 6 of 8, the Habs have sputtered of late, losing 3 of the last 4.
The most disturbing part of these losses is a tight battle between who the losses came from, and margin of these games.
The last 3 losses came at the hands of Boston, New York and Buffalo. Teams that are fighting them for playoff positioning. Games that, for the past two seasons, the Habs have pulled out victories when the critics have said they could not.
In the last 4 games won, the Habs outscored their opponents 17-4. In the last 5 losses the Habs have been outscored 21-6. A lot has been stated about, “How Price plays, so goes the Habs.” And while Price has stolen many games this year, his numbers in recent games (0-3-0 5.42 GAA 0.838 SP in last 3 GPI) are absolutely NOT indicative of his play. Rather, it is a terrifying show of the porous play of the defense.
Constantly, opponents are just handed the blue line, leading to long bouts of time spent defending their own zone. This is no way to generate offense. The Habs defenders seem to be second guessing that initial breakout pass, holding onto it for a second to long. That second is proving to be critical, time and time again.
A lot of criticism is being thrown towards the offensive side of things, but it all starts at the back end, and it must get better from the defense out.
Having so many people come back off the IR probably threw this team for a loop, but they’ve had some time now, so things should be better. They should be.
- Andrei Markov (Torn ACL-out indefinitely)
- Josh Jorges (out indefinitely)
- Max Pacioretty (Broken Neck)
- Jaroslav Spacek
- Alex Picard (healthy scratch)
- Yannick Weber (healthy scratch)
- Tom Poti
- Jason Arnott
- Eric Fehr
- Mike Green
- Alexander Ovechkin
Keys to the Game
With Alexander Ovechkin out with an injury, or getting rest, or whatever is going on there, look for Washington to play an even tighter defensive game then this new look Capitals team has already shown this season.
The Habs need to return in kind. But I don’t mean defensively. The Habs need to find some offense after being shutout in their last 2 games. This starts with the defense. The first breakout pass is going to be crucial tonight to get the speedy forwards moving, and get the confidence level back where it needs to be.
Montreal 4 – Washington 2