Guy Carbonneau rolled the dice with Tomas Plekanec during the shootout in last night’s game against the Carolina Hurricanes, and came up snake eyes. However, goaltender Carey Price and Team Captain Saku Koivu saved the day for the Montreal Canadiens as the Habs beat the ‘Caines 3-2.
After both teams skated to a 2-2 tie through 60 minutes of regulation play and another five minutes of overtime, Coach Carbonneau gave the puck to Plekanec to make him his first shooter in the shootout. Many in the Bell Centre stands were left scratching their heads over that one. Plekanec had only one goal this season going into last night’s game: and that one was an empty-netter in a 3-1 win over the Florida Panthers Oct. 20.
However, that didn’t stop The Coach from going with Plekanec to open the shootout.
The move didn’t pay any dividends as Plekanec was failed to put the puck by Cam Ward, but it was the right decision by the coach.
Few people work harder on this team than Thomas Plekanec. During the 6-4 loss to the Anaheim Ducks a week ago Saturday at the Bell Centre, Plekanec had 13 shots on goal. Unfortunately for Plekanec, and the Canadiens, none of them went in. Then again, that’s the kind start it’s been for number 14, who centered the team’s most productive unit last season.
This season, however, has been a different story for Plekanec, and his line mates Alex Kovalev and Andrei Kostitsyn. For all his efforts, Plekanec can’t buy a goal. Despite scoring his third of the season last night, Kovalev has only shown brief flashes of the explosive form he exhibited last season. And Kostitsyn is trying to round back into form after having his bell rung by Kurt Sauer of the Phoenix Coyotes in a game on Oct. 18th.
By putting the puck on Plekanec’s stick to open the shootout, Carbonneau was telling his feisty centreman: I know you’re working out there. I know the goals aren’t coming yet. I know you’re frustrated. I also know that you deserve this opportunity to bury one, and perhaps bury this slow start to your season, in the process. I have confidence in you.
It made all the sense in the world, except Plekanec failed to live up to his end of the bargain.
The Captain, however, sent everyone home, happy, by beating Ward with what proved to be the only goal the Canadiens would need in the shootout.
The Canadiens’ power play continues to sputter. After dominating with the man advantage last season, the Habs are in the middle of the NHL pack when it comes to converting on the power play. Nowhere was that more apparent than in last night’s overtime session. Midway through O.T., Eric Staal took a mindless retaliatory tripping people as a way to get even with Mike Komisarek. However, the Canadiens failed to take advantage of the opportunity.
The record will show that the Canadiens did score with the man advantage last night. However, the goal came on a penalty shot by Alex Tanguay after a Carolina defender put a big mitt on the puck during a scramble in the Hurricanes’ crease. The goal was Tanguay’s sixth of the season, an impressive statistic.
Less impressive, however, was the fact that the Canadiens can not hit the broad side of the barn when it comes to getting the puck on the net, and in the net, from the point.
Andrei Markov can’t do it all. The veteran defenceman logged a whopping 30:18 of ice time last night, more than ten minutes of it on the power play. Alex Tanguay is not the answer at the point. Sheldon Souray was. Mark Streit was. Before you say “Yannick Weber”, you should know that my spies tell me that Weber is getting manhandled in his own end these days as a member of the AHL Hamilton Bulldogs, and hasn’t had much success getting that shot of his, on opposing goaltenders.
The boo birds were out in full force last night every time former Hab Sergei Samsonov touched the puck. Samsonov, a disastrous free-agent acquisition by Montreal for the 2006-2007 season, has found a home in Carolina.
After trading him to Chicago for a bag of pucks (and finding himself playing with the Rockford Ice Hogs of the AHL for a brief spell) the ‘Canes helped Samsonov salvage his NHL career, and he responded with 14 goals in 38 games last season. However, last night was vintage Samonov (as far as the boo birds were concerned) no points in 16:48 seconds of ice time, with one shot on goal.