Ottawa 4, Montreal 0

It could have been worse. Claude Julien could have let the reins off the forwards instead of having them stay back and support the weakened blueline, like Pat Quinn would have. Keeping the score reasonably close is probably better for team morale.

Even with Alexei Kovalev in the lineup, the Canadiens lack finishing skills. Going 12-3-1 to start the season, this was masked by the fact that they have enough speed and skill to generate enough scoring chances to win. Since then, the Habs have been 2-4-3, and the lack of goal-scoring is glaring. Even without Redden in front of him, Emery had a pretty easy shutout.

Without Kovalev, the Canadiens are basically the same team they were in '03-04 - a tight defensive team with good goaltending that scrapped out marginally more wins than losses. Until the offense snaps out of the current rut, they have to go back to playing that way.


In Ken Dryden's The Game, there is a memorable passage where he describes the chain reaction of events that lead to a goal. On a power play, a harmless pass is deflected which leads a defenseman to think he can intercept it behind the net, which leaves his man open in front. When he fails to reach the puck before his opponent, the pass is made in front and a goal is scored. If the initial pass is not deflected, the goal would not have been scored.

Dryden's point is that goals are rarely the result of a single error or a single superb effort. Typically, a whole lot of the little things add up to produce a goal.

Last night, the Habs had two only left-shooting defensemen in the lineup: Mark Streit and J.P. Cote. That meant Mathieu Dandenault, who shoots right and normally plays that side, was forced to play some shifts on the left side. In the first period, Dandenault had to clear the puck from the defensive zone while under pressure. Because he was on his off side, he had to backhand his clearing attempt which flew over the glass, and the Senators opened the scoring on the ensuing power play. A left-shooting defenseman would have almost certainly would have been able to keep the puck inbounds. If Andrei Markov had not been suspended, Dandenault would not have had to play the wrong side. C'est la vie.


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