RECAP | Blackhawks – Canadiens: One of Habs Worst Efforts this Season

Canadiens Lineup

Forward lines

Tomas Tatar – Phillip Danault – Ilya Kovalchuk

Artturi Lehkonen – Max Domi – Nick Suzuki

Ryan Poehling – Jesperi Kotkaniemi – Nick Cousins

Jordan Weal – Nate Thompson – Dale Weise

Defence pairings

Ben Chiarot – Shea Weber

Marco Scandella – Jeff Petry

Victor Mete – Cale Fleury

Goaltenders

Charlie Lindgren – Carey Price

Scratches

Matthew Peca, Brett Kulak

Injuries

Paul Byron, Jonathan Drouin, Joel Armia, Brendan Gallagher

Game Report

There should be no question that one of the responsibilities of the head coach is to have his team prepared to play. This season, more often than not, opposition coaches seem to have been very successful at this aspect of their job. The venerable Bell Centre has acted like a generous host.

Did it seem to anyone, in the building or watching the game on TV, that the Canadiens were ready to play this game? They were the rested team (remember the soft schedule). The Blackhawks looked fresher and better prepared after having played in Ottawa on Tuesday night and taken the train ride to Montreal.

It was one of the worst efforts of the season by the Canadiens. The performance was characterized by weak defensive play, sloppy transitions, turnovers, a lack of discipline and poor discipline. 

There was only one player who arrived ready to battle. It wasn’t always pretty, but if even a portion of the team arrived at the rink with half the heart of their backup goaltender, they would have had a chance of winning.

Charlie Lindgren has played well in his three appearances backing up Carey Price this season. And if he had started the year with the club, perhaps the playoff picture would be slightly rosier. 

But given that management needlessly signed Keith Kinkaid and botched the situation, Lindgren’s recall came under something akin to the Emergency Measures Act, tossing him into a desperate situation each start.

And what did his teammates do to help out the young goaltender? Not much! The Canadiens have provided little run support scoring just three even-strength goals (five goals total) in Lindgren’s three starts. 

As far as defence, they left him for the wolves.

Goaltending is a tough position for fans to evaluate. Many were ready to blame Lindgren for the first goal of the game. But not so fast.

Lindgren made a smart decision holding the puck behind the net with aggressive Chicago fore-checkers breathing down on him. The players in red who were supposed to be there supporting him as targets for a pass arrived late.

Veteran Tomas Tatar should have acted as a calming presence communicating with Lindgren. Instead he surprised the goaltender and chaos ensued. What was the Selke candidate, Phil Danault, doing on the play? He certainly wasn’t covering his man, Zack Smith, the eventual goal score.

Danault wasn’t the only one caught watching. Victor Mete was left covering no one as Cayden Fleury slid across to stick with Matthew Highmore. Smith again was alone to score his second of the night.

On the third visitor’s goal, Lindgren battled hard to keep the puck out risking life and limb (literally) but could find no help from his friends in red. It should be added that Montreal was shorthanded thanks to a selfish penalty taken by Max Domi.

Jordan Weal’s egregious turnover in the third period put this game to bed. 

After the game, the Montreal media wanted to talk about the local product, Corey Crawford, even naming him as a star. But it was Lindgren facing the far tougher workload with the Blackhawks recording 20 high-danger scoring chances (all situations) to the Canadiens 10.

The Habs will arrive in Philadelphia late tonight as they play the Flyers at 7 pm. on Thursday.

Plus / Minus

▲  Artturi Lehkonen, Jeff Petry

▼  Max Domi, Jordan Weal, Phillip Danault, Victor Mete, Dale Weise, Nate Thompson, Nick Cousins,  power-play