Friday, October 14, 2011

Canadiens - Flames: Rene Bourque Pots Two, Habs Fall in Home Opener


That is the best way to describe the Montreal Canadiens play in their 4-1 home opening loss to Calgary Flames last night.

You could also use the words disorganized and undisciplined.

There were a few flashes of positivity that will hopefully become more plentiful as the season progresses. That aside, this team looks like they need to find their timing and learn the system.

They also look like injuries, especially those on the back end, are hurting them right now.

Montreal got on the board first but sloppy play and bad penalties gave the Flames a 3-1 lead going into the first intermission.

The Habs were never able to recover as the major weakness of the Jacques Martin system—the inability to come from behind—reared it ugly head again.

PSH numbers: The Habs dominated 69 percent of the game to the Flames 31 percent. They also carried the momentum with a 237 rating to the Flames 152.

Final score: Flames 4 - Habs 1

Game Notes

Goaltending stats - It looks like Carey Price will have to wait for his 100th win afterall. He currently sits at 99 for his career.

At the same time, Flames goaltender Miikka Kiprusoff became the winningest goalie in Calgary Flames history, picking up his 263rd win last night.

Did he do that on purpose?

Max Pacioretty assisted on Andrei Kostitsyn's first period goal, by shooting the puck off the board behind the net. The puck caromed out the opposite side where AK46 put it into the empty net from a severe angle.

It looked like Pacioretty did it on purpose until you saw the replay which showed Kiprusoff getting a piece of the puck, deflecting it behind the net himself.

Still, it was a nice goal!

Nice shot!

Rene Bourque got the Flames on the board at 7:15 of the first on the powerplay. On the play, he grabbed the puck near the right faceoff circle, turned and fired a zinger past the Habs defender and over Price's glove hand. Top corner.

It was a sick shot but, I've got to admit that Price was a little deep in his net on the play.

Same deal for Price on the Flames second goal.


What happened to the Habs hermetic defensive zone coverage? Isn't that what Jacques Martin is known for?

So why then was there always a free Flames player in the slot? Especially in the first period?

The Habs gap control was non-existant in the first frame, and that was the difference at the end of the day.

When the Habs are playing well they move through each zone as a five-man unit. Last night, they were far too often out of position and had too much space between players. Especially in the defensive zone.

That sloppiness is what allowed the Flames to capitalize on their chances, burying the Habs in the first period.

Mark Giordano, David Moss, Rene Bourque and Miikka Kiprusoff

Those four players were the story of the game for Calgary.

With Kiprusoff making the saves he had to, Moss always in the slot with the puck, Giordano constantly in the thick of things, defensively, and Bourque burying the biscuit, the Habs had more than they could handle.

Bourque finished the night with two goals and three shots on net, Moss had a goal and four shots on goal and Giordano finished the night was 24:09 of ice time, tops among Flames skaters.


Erik Cole and Tomas Plekanec look good together

I know, I know, Cole made a ton of turnovers last night, was sloppy defensively and hasn't yet been the player Montreal was expecting when they signed him.

That being said, last night there was several shifts in the offensive zone where you could see how well these two players fit together.

They work well because Plekanec finally has a big, burly winger who can create room for him to work his magic.

As a result, Plekanec often had as much time as he needed in the offensive zone, with Cole barreling into the corners and the front of the net.

And did anyone else notice how fast Erik Cole is? For a big man, this is a guy who can motor.

Hopefully for Montreal, Coach Martin will keep the duo together because if they can find some chemistry, they will make a deadly combo once Michael Cammalleri is back in the lineup.

Once they jel...

The Habs second line (or first?) of Scott Gomez, Brian Gionta and Max Pacioretty also looked good. You can see that their timing is off a little but once they get it going and once Cammalleri is back, the Habs could have themselves a very potent one-two punch.

Settle down P.K.!

The Habs are only three games in but, so far, Subban's play has left much to be desired. He seems to be trying to do too much and, as a result, is getting caught out of position a lot.

Last night was no different.

Moreover, Subban's overzealousness is part of the reason why the Habs PP is sputtering right now. As I said after last game, I'm not a fan of Plekanec on point on the PP because he isn't a shooter and that limits the Habs options.

But with P.K. running around a bit, Plekanec's job is even harder on the PP, having to cover for his wayward blueline partner.

Like everything else, the PP will eventually fall into place for this team. But, I don't think it will do so with Plekanec on the point.

Up next: The Habs have the day off before taking on the Colorado Avalanche at the Bell Centre, Saturday night.

Colorado is coming off a 7-1 drubbing of the Ottawa Senators so Montreal better be ready for a big game.

Kamal is a freelance writer, Senior Writer/Editor-in-Chief of and Montreal Canadiens Blogger on Kamal is also a weekly contributor to the Sunday Shinny on TSN Radio 990 (AM 990) every Sunday from 9 - 10 AM. Listen live at

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(Photo by Richard Wolowicz/Getty Images North America)


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