Call of the Wilde: Montreal Canadiens dominated by New York Islanders, collapse 6-2 – Montreal
Last in the Atlantic and 30th in the league, there aren’t many places to go but up for the Montreal Canadiens. Montreal was looking for a second-straight win for the first time this season as they took on the New York Islanders.
The Islanders play a disciplined system where goals don’t come easily against them. So it promised to be a challenging night and it certainly was.
In their own Bell Centre, the Canadiens were humiliated 6-2.
There was very little to enjoy this evening.
Nick Suzuki had some creative moments. He’s a nice young player and had a terrific shot to the far side for a shorthanded marker to keep up his strong results. He also did all the stick work, dancing it down low on a five-on-three power play to lead to Tyler Toffoli’s tally.
Suzuki didn’t get a point in his first five games, but has 10 in his last six games, including two goals in two games. Suddenly, Suzuki is almost on a point-per-game clip.
Every goal against has a culprit. Most goals against have two or three culprits and there were many to go around. David Savard lost his man on the first goal, then ran into Brett Kulak trying to make up for it. Chris Wideman was beaten for the puck on the second goal.
Jeff Petry was caught on an odd man rush on the third goal. Savard, again, was beaten for speed on a two-on-one on the fourth goal. Savard and Kulak were not quick enough on the fifth goal to handle their men.
That is just a primary blame of assessment, but there was secondary blame to go around all over the ice. Christian Dvorak, Josh Anderson, and Mike Hoffman were minus four as a line through two periods. This was an ugly game.
The Canadiens don’t win the middle anymore this season. Last year, Phillip Danault handled the other team’s best centre. That allowed Nick Suzuki to have easier match-ups in the second centre roll. Jesperi Kotkaniemi then handled the third centre duties.
With Jake Evans in the fourth line role, every night had a chance for the Canadiens to win the middle. The match-ups down the middle worked.
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Now, we have Suzuki forced to handle the first line role, which means more defence and less offence. Dvorak moves into the second role, which is not as good as Suzuki in the second line role because Dvorak is not as creative or offensive as Suzuki.
That leaves Evans in the third line role, which means he is now playing against a much better centre and line than he was last season. And the fourth line? Well, that’s a merry-go-round right now, things are going so poorly.
That’s a horrible recipe to win the middle. Everyone is one line higher than they should be. Yes, Dvorak does not seem to be even a 2C.
The club has three wins and nine losses this season. This is who they are. They’re not good. They’re not good at centre which means they’re not good up front. They’re not good on the blue line as they have a plodding six who can’t head man the puck, nor skate with speed. And their goalie feels like he’s facing the Central Red Army doing the best he can.
All in all, when is the Rocket’s next game?
The Laval Rocket will play their two most interesting games of the season this weekend in Syracuse and Utica. The games mark the arrival of Cole Caufield and Mattias Norlinder.
Caufield we know well, after his controversial sending down from the Canadiens after not being able to score in 10 games. Norlinder we do not know well. It’s been a long time in coming to see the offensive blue-liner show his skills. He stayed in Europe last season, and then his arrival this season was delayed due to injury.
Norlinder makes some questionable decisions defensively, but he is outstanding on offence. It will be interesting to watch him on the power play. He could be the quarterback that the Canadiens have been looking for since they lost Andrei Markov to free agency and then eventually retirement.
Norlinder to Caufield is a moment Habs fans want to enjoy for many years to come. Let’s see if the roots of it can be seeded with two games in two nights in western New York for the Rocket.
Brian Wilde, a Montreal-based sports writer, brings you Call of the Wilde on globalnews.ca after each Canadiens game.
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