That looks to be close to the eventual mark, meaning the Montreal Canadiens have to play outstanding hockey to close this season to get to that target. With 11 games left in the year, the Habs must finish with an 8 and 3 mark to make the post-season. They either need a mark that strong, or hope that either the Columbus Blue Jackets or Carolina Hurricanes go into the tank.
They tried hard, they skated miles and they went to the dirty areas trying to get goals. They peppered the goalie with 48 shots. You can’t say that the Habs didn’t give it their all.
They couldn’t get it done, though. The most satisfying aspect of the game was the ceremony before it, honouring Carey Price for win 315, passing Jacques Plante as the Habs best all-time. They presented Price with a Habs jersey with the number 315 on it, signed by all the players.
Price seemed to really be touched by that gesture. He was also touched by the extremely warm standing ovation he received from the usual full house at the Bell Centre. Price then went out and did everything in his power to get a win for the fans and the for the team. He did his part. The rest of the players were not able to, though, despite a good effort. The puck would not bounce; the ‘Hawks goalie, Corey Crawford, would not co-operate. They needed two points.
A hell of an effort doesn’t register in the standings, so there are no blessings when losing is death. This 2-0 loss felt like death.
Corey Crawford makes 48 saves as Blackhawks shut out Canadiens
It’s human nature it seems to jump on a bandwagon to criticize one player in particular, but the Habs have had quite a lot of players recently who have slowed down. Jonathan Drouin is the easiest one to call out, with points in just one game in the last dozen. But one can simply keep going right through most of the lineup, too:
“I thought we played really well, and even though they were coming with pressure at the end, we didnt panic,” Crawford said. “We kept things to the outside and then waited for pucks to come into the middle and break it out, so that was great by us not to lose our cool at the end.”
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Brett Kulak is giving the puck away a lot, and his pinches at the offensive blue line seem to always go poorly.
When the Habs were winning a lot of games, they looked like an extremely fast team. In the last three weeks, though, they don’t look fast at all. Where did all that speed go? Point a finger at one player if you would like, but this late-season swoon is about most of the players on the team.
Price, who broke Jacques Plantes record with a 3-1 win over the Red Wings on Thursday night, received a tribute prior to puck drop tonight against the Chicago Blackhawks.
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The club was featuring speed, talked about speed and played with speed. Five guys were joining the rush; five guys were hustling back. It was 200-foot hockey. It finally felt like management got it — that they believed in something that was beyond themselves, which was in their careers a journeyman defenceman with an outstanding attitude.
2-0 loss to Blackhawks puts Canadiens in playoff jeopardy
It seemed the head coach and GM finally believed in the excitement of skating and creating. The name of the game for four months in a Habs uniform, starting in the heady days of October, was getting the puck up as fast as possible to lightning-fast wingers moving in full stride. That would back up the opposition’s defenders and the ice would be tilted in Montreal’s favour.
So let’s assess, then, what the last month of this campaign has looked like for the organization. Christian Folin was brought in, but he can’t play with speed at all. Nate Thompson was brought in, but he doesn’t bring the fast-transition hockey that was working for the Habs. Mike Reilly started to get benched, so there goes one player with a fast transition ability. Matthew Peca couldn’t get on the ice much, so there went his speed up to the press box. Jordan Weal became a darling of the coach so much he even got power play time.
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Think about how that settled with the Habs veterans, who suddenly see Weal come in to take their opportunity to get power play time. Also on the topic of hierarchy, imagine the players who are desperate for a win to keep their playoff hopes alive, pick up the game-sheet to see the ice time after two periods tonight and see Weal is the top forward and Jesperi Kotkaniemi is last.
This sits very poorly with players. This fringe and journeyman NHLer Weal, who has just arrived on the scene, leads the team in ice time among forwards. The players who have sweat and have fought all season long can’t make sense of that. They see that sheet and think they’re not losing ice time to star Matt Duchene who was brought in, they’re losing it to fringe player Jordan Weal. Another huge matter is they also can’t make sense that they were in the playoffs at the trading deadline at the end of February and their GM didn’t get them Duchene or someone strong to help to take it home. They believed in themselves, but they didn’t feel that the GM believed in them. At the same time, their style suddenly started to feature cycling and dump-ins. Roster decisions and ice time favoured defence instead of offence. They went from being chased to chasing the game. They didn’t seem to be backing anyone up on the blue line anymore.
Video: 03/16/19 Condensed Game: Blackhawks @ Canadiens
The style that the Habs were presenting to their opposition in November and December was gone. And now so are the wins — and soon so is the playoffs.
The best Habs prospects are on fire this weekend. At the junior level, Nick Suzuki continues to pile up the points. The Guelph Storm chalked up a win over the Erie Otters last night, and Suzuki put on a show again with one goal and three assists. This season, Suzuki has played in only 58 games and has 34 goals and 60 assists.
His point totals have all been around this level for the three seasons that he has played junior hockey, but this is the best he has shown as a complete player.
He doesn’t just get assists and goals. They’re often highlight reel material. At the college level, Cayden Primeau is turning into one heck of a sleeper pick in the seventh round by Trevor Timmins. The playoffs are on for Northeastern and the Huskies didn’t play particularly well against Maine in game one, as the Black Bears dominated. Primeau had to make 41 saves on 42 shots for Northeastern to win 2-1 in overtime. A third Habs prospect was also outstanding, as Ryan Poehling played his best game of the season as the number-one team in the country Saint Cloud State started its playoffs with an easy win. Poehling had a goal as Saint Cloud State won 5-2.
Fans are hopeful that Poehling will declare that he is a professional after his season is over and the Habs can sign him for the last games of the season. If he doesn’t declare, there are going to be a lot of nervous people that he may play a season year and get very close to free agency status, without signing with Montreal. Many are already nervous, but Poehling has often hinted that he is excited and prepared to play for Montreal.
MONTREAL — Another incredible performance by Corey Crawford in his hometown has seriously hurt Montreals playoff chances down the stretch.
Crawford stopped all 48 shots he faced as the surging Chicago Blackhawks blanked the struggling Canadiens 2-0 on Saturday night.
Crawford makes 48 saves in Blackhawks 2-0 win vs. Canadiens
The Montreal-born Crawford earned his second shutout of the season and improved to 9-2-2 all-time versus the Canadiens.
“Thats a big win for us against a team thats close to being in the playoffs,” said Crawford, whose 48-save outing was a career high in the regular season. “They need points too. We kept them to the outside for the most part. Our penalty kill was solid.”
Crawford has never lost in regulation time in his hometown (5-0-2). Hes won his last five games at the Bell Centre.
Youd have to think that a similar effort against the Flyers on Tuesday night in Philadelphia would undoubtedly yield a better result, provided they can score, of course.
“I grew up a huge Habs fan when I was younger so its always exciting to come back and play in this building,” said Crawford, who faced 18 shots in the third period alone. “Its nice to get a win coming back here.”
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Montreals playoff chances are dwindling in the Eastern Conference. The Canadiens (37-28-7) are three points out of the second wild-card spot with 10 games remaining in the season — five of those are on the road.
The Carolina Hurricanes are in the first wild-card spot with 85 points, one point ahead of the Columbus Blue Jackets. The Canadiens, who have dropped four of their past five games, are on the outside looking in with 81 points.
24 – Number of shots the Canadiens and Blackhawks combined to generate during a busy opening frame. Montreal peppered Corey Crawford with 13 shots, while Chicago put 11 shots on Price. Nobody managed to light the lamp, though, and the two teams remained scoreless through 20 minutes of play.
“Our backs are against the wall,” said captain Shea Weber. “We have to find a way to win. Everyone is frustrated. We want to win and were not winning, so its tough.
Saturdays contest was a battle of goaltenders, with Crawford getting the better of his counterpart Carey Price, who stopped 22-of-24 shots in defeat.
Crawford needed to be on his game, with Montreal generating high-quality scoring chances in close all night long.
The Chicago goalie denied four different Canadiens players in an 18-second span in the first period, stopping a flurry of shots from Andrew Shaw, Paul Byron, Max Domi and then Tomas Tatar.
Midway through the second, Crawford made perhaps his best save of the encounter when he robbed Artturi Lehkonen in close with a windmill glove save.
It was more of the same in the third, with Crawford stopping Joel Armia from point-blank range to preserve Chicagos two-goal lead with nine minutes left in the game.
“We were digging and we were getting in front,” said fourth-liner Jordan Weal, who had the second-most ice time among Canadiens forwards. “It was one of those nights where we couldnt put one past the goal line. Its frustrating because every game right now is so huge.
“We were generating a lot. We were hitting posts. We were hitting crossbars. We were millimetres away. If we play like that here on out, we have a good chance to win.”
Connor Murphy scored the games first goal 3:04 into the second period. The defenceman took a pass from Dylan Strome in his skates, kicked the puck onto his stick, and beat Price from the slot high glove-side.
Brendan Perlini made it 2-0 at 4:49 of the third period on a nice give-and-go with teammate Alex DeBrincat.
The game featured Montreals league-worst power play against Chicagos NHL-worst penalty kill. The Hawks came out on top, with the Canadiens going 0 for 4 with the man advantage.
“Its desperation time,” said Price. “Its about trying to keep that positive attitude. Negativity isnt going to help us at all. We have to keep driving.”
Notes: The Canadiens celebrated Prices franchise record-setting 315th career victory in a pre-game ceremony. … Montreal was coming off a tough 2-1 loss to the New York Islanders on Thursday.