With Thomas Vanek in the lineup and Dale Weise a healthy scratch, the Canadiens drop a 5-2 decision to the Phoenix Coyotes, a game they were in until they weren’t.
Maybe it’s because Vanek played alongside smallish Tomas Plekanec and wee Brian Gionta, but he looked absolutely huge. He’s listed at 6′ at the Canadiens website, but 6’2″ everywhere else, including Hockey Database and Hockey Reference.
I’m going with those. He’s definitely bigger than 6′.
But that’s beside the point. The Canadiens lost, although it isn’t the end of the world. They just have to win in San Jose on Saturday to erase the bummer.
The Coyotes struck first when a long shot caromed off Douglas Murray, but Andrei Markov tied it with a big blast. Then with Lars Eller taking a tripping penalty in the offensive zone, Phoenix once again grabbed the lead and visions of Eller in the doghouse danced through many of our heads I’m sure.
But he was back out shortly after, which was nice to see. I hate seeing guys in the doghouse all the time. And if life was truly fair, Rene Bourque shouldn’t have played since last November.
The killer for the Habs came with just nine seconds left in the first period when Phoenix made it 3-1, and as they say, Antoine’s your uncle.
Montreal did narrow it to a 3-2 game in the second when Alex Galchenyuk scored on a 5 on 3, and Alexei Emelin had previously bulged the twine, but the goal was called back because Desharnais was stuck in the crease.
We could also say the Canadiens were all over the Coyotes in that second frame, but the home team had four penalties to Montreal’s none, and that might have something to do with it.
In the third, I listened to the game on the radio on my way to the airport to pick up Luci. That’s when I heard Phoenix make it 4-2 and then 5-2. It’s also when I got lost at the airport trying to find the parking garage.
Along with Weise, healthy scratches included George Parros and Francis Bouillon. Josh Gorges is back in Montreal having his damaged hand looked at.
The Canadiens apparently didn’t arrive in Phoenix until 3:00 am, but no excuses, right?
Habs outshot the Coyotes 26-23.
Thomas Vanek, although looking slightly out of sorts which is understandable, still managed to have three or four good chances to score, which is three or four more than Rene Bourque has managed in the last month.
Peter Budaj was less than sharp. We need Carey Price back, but with the final stretch and upcoming playoffs, it’s very wise not to rush things. Groin injuries take time. I remember suffering one myself after that private party with the players’ wives. Took me months to recover.
Newly acquired d-man Mike Weaver didn’t seem overly impressive in his debut but I think it’s unfair to judge after just one outing.
Next, the San Jose Sharks on Saturday at 10:00 pm ET. Another tough game, and it’ll be nice when this road trip is over. Not only because it’s a tough four games, but also because they’ve all been past my bedtime.
Maybe we’ll see a camera shot of grumpy Neil Young at the game. He’s been a season ticket holder in San Jose for years. Ex-Hab Terry Harper, who lives a couple of hours north of San Jose, also goes to games there from time to time.