Peaks and valleys
PHILADELPHIA –The Habs’ PK continues to impress but their lack of power play production has stopped them from gaining momentum.
A night that started off well for the Canadiens ended instead with the Flyers walking away with two points that the bleu-blanc-rouge could sorely have used. Aside from a four game win-streak at the beginning of the month, momentum is something that has eluded the Habs early in 2011-12. The up-and-down nature of the club’s season record is mirrored in their special teams production that claims a penalty kill among the league’s best, but a power play in the bottom third.
“We’re going to have to find solutions. We need to be turning our chances on the power play into goals,” said Josh Gorges, who Friday afternoon, recorded his 10th point of the season on Petteri Nokelainen’s first goal as a Hab. “I’m not trying to be critical of the guys on the ice when we have the man-advantage either. We just need to find a way to score those goals. We didn’t work like we should have in the second period. We lost our individual battles and that’s what cost us the win.”
With the Penguins ready to take on the Habs at the Bell Centre on Saturday, Canadiens’ head coach Jacques Martin is well aware that adjustments will have to be made if his team hopes to topple another of the East’s elite.
“We’re going to have to regroup and find a way to work better on the power play. We need to simplify things, go to the net and find a way to not give up any chances at the same time,” dropped Martin his power play that’s been blanked in the Habs last three match-ups despite receiving 12 attempts.
“Our power play gave them momentum,” finished Martin. “We weren’t able to create scoring chances. On the Flyers end, it was the exact opposite.”
After staring down 36 shots on the night, with 18 of them coming in the second period alone, Carey Price knows first hand the kind of momentum those scoring opportunities can create.
“I think they grabbed a lot of momentum killing all those penalties. It was big for them,” mentioned Price who despite the final outcome still put his name on several of the night’s biggest saves, including a show-stopping glove-save during a third-period 5-on-3. “If we got a goal on one of those, things might have gone a little bit differently. Give their penalty kill credit though, it did a god job.”
Having skated off the ice at the end of the first period with a 1-0 lead, the Canadiens’ captain was quick to point out where the afternoon took a turn for the worst for his team.
“That’s where tonight’s game got lost for us was in the second period. I thought we played a pretty decent first but then got away from what we were doing right and fell apart in the second,” said Gionta, who for his part logged four shots on Bobrovsky. “That late one in the third with five seconds left was tough. Those goals in the last minute of a period always hurt.”
The Canadiens will have the chance to bolster their confidence on the man-advantage Saturday night when Sidney Crosby and the Pens roll into the Bell Centre with the NHL’s second best penalty kill.
Justin Fragapane is a writer for canadiens.com.