Dominique Ducharme was inflicted on what he himself described as “curveball« Thursday morning, when it became clear that defenseman Sami Niku and franchise frontrunner right-winger Brendan Gallagher were held up in the league’s COVID protocol and have since confirmed results that they have the coronavirus.
It wasn’t all bad news before the puck came in, however. Former hat trick hero Mathieu Perreault has been allowed to return after missing the last 15 games with an eye injury that required laser surgery. The same was true for the defensive end, where Niku could effectively be replaced by Brett Kulak or Chris Wideman; with both defenders ready to don the gear after getting rid of their respective ailments. Ducharme opted to put all three players into the roster, with rookie Mattias Norlinder being the odd man against the Colorado Avalanche chasing the Stanley Cup.
Apparently the match started with a first half that lasted 20 minutes. I say Apparently, because not much happened on either side during the third opening. Colorado looked complacent, like they already knew they wouldn’t need to go full blast to get the win. Montreal, meanwhile, continued to display the slow and ineffective offense it has shown since the start of the season.
During four of these 20 minutes, the Habs led one man in advance, without creating any substantial pressure. Instead, Jake Allen had to be vigilant to save a potential opposition first goal in the second of two power plays.
The highlight of this first half was the preparation for this second man advantage. Alexander Romanov, who takes no prisoners, decided to skate on the ice to eliminate the Avalanche prodigy, Cale Makar. With the blow, he managed to take out not only Makar, but also his teammate Ryan Poehling.
Cale Makar and Ryan Poehling get knocked out by Alexander Romanov
Which means Dawn-Kubel got a penalty kick for Romanov who hit his own lmao teammate pic.twitter.com/48lvtriCGf
– Scott Matla (@scottmatla) December 3, 2021
This scene made Avs winger Nicolas Aube-Kubel lose his cool and threw his gloves to the ground, sending him to the box for unsportsmanlike conduct. Meanwhile, Romanov was quick to exit the ice, having been hit in the face during his own tackle, causing his now broken nose to bleed profusely.
Montreal started second just as they finished first. They took a penalty early which was positive and indeed a nice effort from the newly made up fourth row. Eleven seconds into the power play, however, Chris Wideman knocked down the puck deep into his own zone, and a quick pass later Valeri Nichushkin had an opening. route to Allen and the net. The puck slid over the line very slowly, just another insult to the injury.
Soon after, Colorado was cleared to beat two to zero while still being a downed man, but this time Allen saved his team from further embarrassment.
After three power-play superiorities, the home side still had just one shot at Swedish Avalanche goalkeeper Jonas Johansson. But you know what the wise tend to say; the fourth time, it’s the charm.
Colorado kept gaining ground, taking stupid penalties for no obvious reason behind them. Just a minute after Tyson Jost joined his squad for the final penalty, captain Gabriel Landeskog decided to board Tyler Toffoli, sending him to the trash.
At this point, you could imagine the Avs players and coaching staff thinking they had nothing to worry about playing shorthanded. In fact, they had so far been the only team to record shots as Montreal played with the extra man. If you are qualified enough, you only need one shot (don’t miss your chance to blow) good that.
Ben Chiarot has previously only reached five goals twice during his eight-year tenure in the NHL. It’s now three times in nine seasons, and this time he’s done it in just 25 games. If he continues at this pace, he could very well eclipse the 10-goal mark for the very first time in his NHL career. Being in a contract year, Chiarot is becoming a sought-after commodity at the end of the trade.
Cole Caufield was credited with an assist on Chiarot’s equalizer, and at this point anything that can help thaw the confidence of our frozen prodigy is appreciated.
Landeskog redeemed himself later in the period by stepping in front of goal and disturbing Allen enough to let a shot from Makar’s point pass. Whether Gabe himself hit the puck with his stick for the redirection or not, that is the question. Nevertheless, Colorado scored a goal before the third.
A goal lead turned into two at the start of the third period. A pinball-like situation around Allen’s net ended with Malmö’s product Andre Burakovsky whipping the puck between the shaking goalie’s legs and into the net.
Without Jake Allen, this night would have been as ugly on the scoresheet as it looked on the ice. The Habs coaching staff appear to have taken the phrase “open door policy” and implemented it as the team’s defensive philosophy. Combined with anemic power play, a leaky penalty and a nonexistent attacking game plan, it’s hard from the outside to figure out what you’re actually working on during practice sessions.
A Swedish singer-songwriter by the name of Sabina Ddumba had a hit a few years ago called Effortlessly. You will find words such as: ” We don’t even try. Not at all. It is effortless. So effortlessly. During the last few minutes of the game, I found myself humming this song as I related it to this year’s version of the Montreal Canadiens.
Landeskog finally scored his goal by shooting into an empty net three minutes from time to bring the score to 4-1. Few players stood out in the loss to Montreal, but Allen, Poehling and Romanov were in the spotlight on a gloomy December evening.
There might be something good waiting for you at the end of Yellow Brick Road. But for now, Jeff Gorton certainly has his hands full.