MELTDOWN AT THE BELL CENTRE


Goaltending controversy? What goaltending controversy??

Truth be told, it wouldn’t have mattered much WHO was in goal last night for the Montreal Canadiens.  Certainly not in the second period, when the Habs pulled a disappearing act en-route to a 5-1 loss to the Washington Capitals in game three of this first-round playoff.  The setback leaves the Canadiens in a 2-1 hole heading into game four tomorrow night, and it leaves head coach Jacques Martin searching for some answers.

Like: what happened to his hockey team after an absolutely splendid first period?  And it really was a terrific opening period by the home team, who came out flying, and showed no ill effects from Monday’s 6-5 overtime loss in Washington (other than the fact that the Canadiens allowed the Caps to get back into the series, which, of course, was a significant development).  The Canadiens outshot the Caps 10-7 and missed out on several glorious scoring chances, resulting in scoreless hockey after 20 minutes.  But it was good hockey. It was exciting hockey, something the hometown fans could hang their hats on.

And then the Bell Centre roof caved in.

Boyd Gordon beats Jaroslav Halak with a shorthanded goal, 66 seconds into period number two.  Brooks Laich makes it 2-0 some three minutes later.  And Eric Fehr makes it 3-0 some four minutes later, after he’s allowed to waltz in on a flat-footed Marc-Andre Bergeron (more on him in a moment) and poke home his own rebound.

Three goals on six shots.  Exit Jaroslav Halak. Enter Carey Price.  But by that time, the damage had already been done.

It was Price’s first taste of action in three weeks.  March 31st, to be exact.  And he performed about as well as you could expect.  Yes, he did give up a goal to Alex Ovechkin to close out the four-goal second-period onslaught.  But the Capitals didn’t need Alex Ovechkin on this night.  And they didn’t need Nicklas Backstrom or Alexander Semin.  Not when you had guys like Brooks Laich, Eric Fehr and Brendan Morrison running roughshod over the likes of Tomas Plekanec, Mike Cammalleri and Andrei Kostitsyn: who finished a combined minus 12 on the night.

Minus 12.  That’s not good.

Then again, there wasn’t much good to come out of this one for the Canadiens, save for the opening 20 minutes.  Certainly not the play of Marc-Andre Bergeron, who provided the Caps with a number of gift-wrapped goals en-route to a minus three performance: dead last among Habs defenders.  Then again, no one ever accused Marc-Andre Bergeron of being a defender.  He is a one-trick pony. And right now, that trick isn’t working out very well for Bergeron, who is being exposed as the defensive liability he is as we go deeper into this series.

Time for Ryan O’Byrne to see some action?  You would have to think so.  If nothing else, O’Byrne brings a big body to the Canadiens’ blueline.  True, he’s not blessed with a great deal of foot speed.  But then again, who on this Montreal blueline is?

That’s another decision that Jacques Martin will have to make.

Does Sergei Kostitsyn deserve a day pass, for tomorrow night’s fourth game?  It couldn’t hurt.

The game marked the return of Glen Metropolit to the Habs’ lineup.  After sitting out three weeks with a shoulder injury,  Metropolit played nine shifts for a grand total of 5:37 of ice time.  I mean, why bother at that point? Matheiu Darche?  Five shifts, 2:22 of ice time. But don’t point the finger at those two guys for what ailed the Canadiens last night.  Not when Scott Gomez decided to take himself out of the game for 10 minutes by arguing a penalty call late in the second period; resulting in a misconduct.

Still the Canadiens are not out of this series.  They may be down 2-1, but they’re not out.

Oh yes.  It says here you’ll see Carey Price in game four. Just thought I’d mention that.

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About ahefter

I have covered hockey extensively during my 30-year sports broadcasting career. From the Miracle on Ice at Lake Placid to the Edmonton Oiler dynasty years, I've shared my views on hockey with listeners in Montreal, Toronto and Vancouver. You can "catch me in action" on Youtube at the following URL: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1n5BdB9ngYw My radio stops include TSN 690 Montreal, CJAD Montreal, CKNW Vancouver, and CKEY Toronto. I also ran the Canadian Press sports desk (radio). My travels as a network reporter have taken me to four Olympics, most recently Vancouver 2010. I'm currently an Applied Assistant Professor within the School of Communication at the University of Hartford.
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