Playoff game #1
The game started well enough; the Habs skated hard, forechecked, took their shots at Craig Anderson…and then the Sens scored. Not an awful goal for Price to surrender with Erik Karlsson right on the doorstep, but it was certainly deflating.
But the Habs fought back, kept skating, kept shooting. That Anderson guy kept making saves. All of them. Suddenly, with a backhand shot that would make Vincent Damphousse proud, Rene Bourque tied the score. All seemed fine, and we had ourselves one heck of an entertaining game.
And then came Gryba.
Tattooing a defenseless Lars Eller in the head with his shoulder, leaving the Habs center bloodied and probably concussed, the air and electricity left the building. Sure the Habs scored on the resulting powerplay to take the lead, and continued to rain down shots on Anderson, but he was equal to the task. The Canadiens set a new team record in peppering Anderson with 27 second period shots; 50 for the game, but could only score twice. Amazing what a determined goaltender can do.
Enter Carey Price.
With his team dominating, all he had to do was not surrender any weak goals and game one would be theirs. Instead, he decided not to play the third period. All three goals were awful. The first went right though his legs. He got his glove on the second but it got by him anyway. The third was the result of a rebound that should have been steered in to the corner, but instead was punted directly in to the slot where a crashing Latendresse forced both himself and Subban to push the puck behind Price.
Poor focus. Poor rebound control. Poor resolve.
While certain Canadiens players were absent (hello Gionta, Ryder and Desharnais), the Canadiens were let down by their goaltender, who is paid and relied upon to deliver big saves in big moments. When the team was pouring its guts out (and in Lars Eller’s case – his blood), they needed Price to stand tall, and he simply did not. He failed, full stop. Price will have his share of apologists, who will try to once again pin the blame on everyone else aside from Price. Question their credibility, for they are not being honest with you, or with themselves.
Perhaps it’s for the best that they get right back to work tomorrow night. It leaves them with no time to dwell on this deflating performance from their most important player, but gives them just enough time to take a deep breath after an emotional game that saw one of their best players injured.
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