Kukla's Korner Hockey
by The Upper Canadien on 12/02/10 at 02:03 AM ET
Lots of shots. Crisp checking. Hot goaltending. The Habs had it all tonight.
For two periods.
The third was another story, as the Habs blew a 3-1 lead and lost 4-3 in overtime to the Edmonton Oilers, on a beautiful Dustin Penner breakaway goal.
I was looking forward to focusing on a play where Andrei Kostitsyn took a shot off a sensitive area and, as he writhed on the ice while trying to get off, Tomas Plekanec rolled - yes, rolled - him towards the bench, trying to get him off the ice.
However, I’m not apt to chuckle after such a performance. The Canadiens did what they often do with a two goal lead in the third. Or a one goal lead. Or a five goal lead. They played defensive hockey and sat back as the Oilers came in waves.
When will the Canadiens stop making this mistake?
I know Jacques Martin is a defensive coach. I know he has a system. Heck, I know that often, it works. But in the post-lockout NHL, we’ve seen teams blow leads, big leads, time after time after time. A good team can’t just sit back and lob the puck down the ice. They need to continue to forecheck. The Habs don’t do that. They don’t even come close.
So, what can be done? Well, I’m starting to believe a call-up might be in order. Max Pacioretty would add a nice physical presence to the top two lines, and he’s proven he has softer hands than we thought with ten goals in the past month for the Hamilton Bulldogs.
A trade? Andrei Markov went on the injured reserve today, so the Habs officially have a lot of cap space to blow. But Pierre Gauthier doesn’t blow cap space. He carefully evaluates it and considers options. Sort of like your grandfather weighs different cars before making the big buy. Sure, it can take months. Maybe years. But in the end, you get the right one. Right?
If you read my posts regularly, you know that I think the Habs have a good team, but you also know that I believe Gauthier needs to augment it. They need to add to their attack, and they need bigger forwards. But they’ve needed to add bigger forwards for almost a decade, and it hasn’t happened.
So I won’t lose any sleep tonight. I’m just resigned to it.
Of note: Scott Gomez
Scott Gomez scored a goal tonight, breaking a streak that felt like it went back to last season. I was starting to wonder if Gomez would switch from #11 back to #91. A lot of Habs fans felt that he was stepping on toes too soon taking Koivu’s number, and I was starting to think they were right. But, by moving his feet and remaining committed to the forecheck Gomez is turning his game around. I doubt it will be long before he’s on the scoresheet again on a nightly, or at least semi-nightly, basis.
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Paul Kukla founded Kukla’s Korner in 2005 and the site has since become the must-read site on the ‘net for all the latest happenings around the NHL.
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