Recap – Panthers vs Canadiens: Sacrificing a Win For a Lesson

(Photo by Paul Chiasson AP)
Game 58, Home Game 31 | Thursday February 19, 2015
Bell Centre, Montreal, QC.





(Photo by Paul Chiasson AP)



Lineup scratches: Mike Weaver, Alexei Emelin (upper-body), Alex Galchenyuk (flu)
Injured reserve: P.A. Parenteau (concussion symptoms), Sergei Gonchar (upper-body)

Game Notes:

There are no asterisks attached to NHL losses. Post-game, many rushed to excuse the Canadiens shootout loss to the Panthers referencing five players in the lineup who had been regulars for the Hamilton Bulldogs this season.  This conveniently ignored the fact that the Habs have enjoyed a remarkably healthy season until recently.  It also diminishes the fact that, for the most part, ‘the Bulldogs’ played very well, particularly Jarred Tinordi, Nathan Beaulieu and Greg Pateryn.

Beaulieu played a whopping 25:10 with four shots on goal, Pateryn delivered three hits in almost 12 minutes and Tinordi contributed two hits, a blocked shot and a fight to his 11:39.  Not to overlook forwards Jacob De La Rose who led the team with five hits and was 55 percent on faceoffs in almost 15 minutes of icetime and Christian Thomas who chipped in with three shots in 7:46.

And let’s not discount the play of a desperate, well-coached team who are fighting for a playoff spot. With the win, the Panthers are just one point back of the Boston Bruins for the last wild card spot.  (There’s the silver lining of the Habs loss.)

Brendan Gallagher celebrated his return to the top line with two Gallagher trademark goals born out of intensity and perseverance.  But the best line was Tomas Plekanec with Lars Eller and Jiri Sekac. Both Eller and Sekac were excellent.  Oddly enough it was Plekanec who was out of place at times seemingly having a few minor hiccups adapting to his new linemates.

Which brings us to the shootout.  With Alex Galchenyuk and P.A. Parenteau on the shelf, coach Michel Therrien was without two of his better shootout specialists.  Up first was David Desharnais sporting just a 2-for-8 success rate this season. His backhand went wide.

Next up was Max Pacioretty with his first shootout attempt of the season. Pacioretty, normally not a wise choice based on his struggles on the breakaway, had missed a chance to end the game as overtime ended.  I tweeted that he deserved a chance in the shootout to redeem himself and Max didn’t disappoint beating Luongo for the Canadiens only goal.

What happened next had most fans and analysts shaking their heads. Therrien chose two defenceman, Andrei Markov and P.K. Subban to take their first attempts of the season.  And he also chose two forwards, Tomas Plekanec and Brendan Gallagher who were a combined 1-for-7 this season in the shootout.  Plekanec and Gallagher were 0-for-5 last season.

To no one’s surprise, the Canadiens didn’t score again. And Therrien had left on the bench a very skilled rookie, Jiri Sekac, and Lars Eller, who was 75 per cent successful in shootouts last season. And keep in mind, both forwards had played exceedingly well.

In the post-game media conference, when asked why he hadn’t used Sekac and Eller in the shootout, Therrien publicly tossed his young forwards under the bus saying that “they haven’t scored in two months.”

The coach had decided to sacrifice the win to send a message. It was petty and arrogant. And the comments directed at two hard-working players who had a good game were undeserved.

Beyond that, Therrien is wildly inconsistent in applying his so-called accountability. Twitter wasted no time listing the number of times the coach has had a double set of rules with P.A. Parenteau getting shootout opportunities this season despite struggling to find the net.  And famously last season, David Desharnais ended an ice-age long drought and silenced a mayor with a goal in the shootout after several opportunities.

Therrien’s bigger-than-the-team sized ego has gotten himself in hot-water before. And it certainly does nothing to motivate and instill confidence in young players particularly as the Canadiens go through a rough patch with injuries. Punishing certain players while pampering others for similar performances is divisive and goes against all that the players have done to form strong bonds this season.

Plus / Minus

▲     P.K. Subban, Tomas Plekanec, Jiri Sekac, Lars Eller, Max Pacioretty, Jarred Tinordi, Greg Pateryn, Nathan Beaulieu, Carey Price

▼     Michael Bournival, Michel Therrien

39 Shots 21
0 for 1 Power Play 0 for 1
63% Face-offs 37%
7 Penalty Mins 7
31 Hits 42
48 Fenwick For 30
59 Corsi For 43
 FINAL 1 2 3 OT SO T
 Canadiens  (37-16-5) 0 2 0 0 0 2
 Panthers (26-19-12) 0 1 1 0 1 3
Scorers Goalies
  • MTL:  Gallagher (14), Gallagher (15)
  • FLA:  Fleischmann (7), Kampfer (1)  game-deciding goal: Bolland
  • MTL: Price (L) 32-11-3
  • FLA: Luongo (W) 22-14-10
 NHL Three Stars
  1.  Tomas Fleischmann  FLA
  2.  Brendan Gallagher  MTL
  3.  Dave Bolland  FLA

 Video Highlights

 Post-game Press Conference
Coach Michel Therrien

  • “Roberto Luongo was phenomenal; he was tough to beat. If we didn’t score more than two goals it wasn’t because of a lack of effort.”
  • “We’re giving our young players an opportunity to play NHL games to see how they’re progressing. Tinordi is a physical player and he did what he has to do. Pateryn also played a good game tonight.”
  • “Don’t forget we also have another young defenseman in the lineup in Nathan Beaulieu. We have a very young blue line, but we didn’t give up many scoring chances.”
  • “We’ve been saying for a long time that we’re a young team. We’re in transition. The kids on our team worked extremely hard. They surely deserved better results.”

Max Pacioretty

  • “I think we made it a little bit too easy on their goalie. We have to get some screens and some second and third chances. It’s the same story too often. We have to find ways to put the puck in the net especially when we have (Dustin Tokarski) back there. We’ve left him out to dry too many times this year.”
  • “It could be a times we didn’t manage the puck well, our coverage was not good enough and we left Tokarski by himself a few times. If you expect to win games in the National Hockey League, you can’t do that.”
  • “We keep making it too easy on goaltenders. We’re not getting dirty goals. I personally need to get more screens – more second and third chances – against division rivals when we’re playing tight-checking physical games like tonight. They were able to score dirty goals tonight and now we need to do the same.”

P.K. Subban

  • “Obviously we’d like to have [Sergei Gonchar and Alexei Emelin] in the lineup, but I thought guys like (Jarred) Tinordi and (Greg) Pateryn and especially Nate (Beaulieu) – he’s been playing so well of late – stepped up their games and they contributed.  I don’t know what the minutes were for each guy, but I’m sure they were up there again tonight. For those guys who aren’t used to playing in the NHL to be playing those types of minutes and for us to get a point out of this game is big. I don’t have to look at the game tape to know they did a good job today.”

Brendan Gallagher

  • “They executed a shot, they executed a power-play play and they found a way to chip back in, but I thought we did a good job of sticking with it. It’s just always when it comes down to shootouts; we’ve been pretty good at it but unfortunately we were on the wrong side.”
  • “We had six rookies in the lineup and I think all of them did a great job. They stood up, they were confident in their play and they did exactly what we asked them to do. It’s cool to see those guys coming up who are going to be a big part of this team going forward and it was nice to see them get the opportunity and step up tonight.”

Panthers goalie Roberto Luongo

  • “[Carey Price] has been unbelievable in the shootout. I think he’s only let in one goal before [Thursday], if I’m not mistaken, so it wasn’t going to be easy and after [Max Pacioretty] scored the first one I wasn’t sure what was going to happen. But [Nick Bjugstad] scored a big one there to tie it up, and then I just wanted to make as many saves as I could and hopefully we could get another by him.”

Panthers head coach Gerard Gallant

  • “It definitely helps us. I mean, it’s one game, we got a big win, but it gets us that [much] closer to the spot we want to be. I mean, we’re one point behind Boston now, and we’re playing well and we’ve got three more tough games on the road trip so it’s definitely a big win for us. I don’t know if it’s a turning point or not but we’ll see when we play the next 25 games but it was definitely a huge win for us.”
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  1. Yes Eller had a good game but lets be real here the has scored 2 goals in what 27 games, I would have anybody shooting before Eller….

    • Gord, we am familiar with your abject hatred of Lars Eller from your Facebook comments. It’s unfortunate that Eller has never been given even a small fraction of the opportunities of the coach’s pet. You would see that he is very skilled, strong skater who is capable of performing under pressure. His five game-winning goals attest to that, second only to Max Pacioretty on the team. Playing for any other coach in the NHL, and entering the season with a 75 per cent success rate, Eller would have been in every shootout this season. I would hope that you could find a tiny bit of objectivity to agree with that.

      • Eller has not been in the favour of the Coach on many occasions in my opinion this season.
        Eller should be placed on a line that will enhance his offensive potential right now. I do not believe Eller has been given the right player chemistry the right players to play with to excel his game.
        Lets face it Therrien has his pets & it shows on a nightly basis Eller is not in the coach’s good books @ times through-out this season.
        I would like to see Eller get the right break & get back to playing fun loving hockey that he was playing In the play-offs.
        I guess only time will tell I just hope Eller starts getting better treatment sooner than later we all know when Eller is on his game he is excellent.
        Go Habs Go !!!

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