The numbers are in, and they’re ugly.
Unless you’re a Montreal Canadiens fan, in which case they may be panic-inducing.
Nine. As in goals. That’s how many Canadiens goalie Carey Price has given up in the two games since the Habs clinched a playoff berth in Buffalo last week.
Thirty-three. That’s the number of shots the Toronto Maple Leafs and lowly Philadelphia Flyers needed to pump the goals in – over a span of 50:25.
The good news is Price improved his stats over Saturday – three goals on four shots in the shortest outing of his career – by only giving up six in 29 shots on Monday.
And it all started with such steely resolve and concentration.
At a morning practice, Price seemed to be in a zone, in the warm-up he stopped everything, and then when game-time came, well let’s just say it didn’t go according to plan.
On the third shot he faced – from Philly winger Wayne Simmonds, who stormed down the right side on an odd-numbered rush – Price kicked a long rebound right back at the shooter, whose second attempt caromed off a thicket of legs and sticks and into the net.
That was at 2:45 of the first.
Then, just over three minutes later, Erik Gustafsson’s point shot found its way through a maze of people and Price’s five-hole.
It was definitely stoppable, and from there, things got a little squirrelly, with Price giving up wild rebounds and juggling even simple shots into his chest.
Confidence is a fragile thing in a hockey player, and Price still has a half-dozen games to regain his before the playoffs start.
Good thing Montreal’s hockey public is so understanding. Right? Right?
Though the Habs would come back to tie through the brilliant Brendan Gallagher – Montreal’s best player by a good distance this night – and Max Pacioretty on a pair of power-plays that bookended the first intermission, it wasn’t long before Price’s defence started to let him down.
First the normally steady Josh Gorges coughed up a puck behind the net, allowing Jacob Voraek to pot his 18 th while the Bell Centre announcer was still bellowing Gallagher’s name.
Before the game, Gorges sought to take some of the heat off Price, saying “You lose a game, you’re always the goat, they always blame the goalie because there’s no one there to bail him out. He’s there to bail us out, and he has time and time again. When things go like that we have to do a better job of helping bail him out.”
Gorges also allowed that it’s impossible to play at maximum efficiency every night, and prophetically said that: “In the course of an 82 game season, you probably have five to seven games where you were just awful. You can’t do anything, pucks don’t bounce, you’re falling, you just don’t have it. And then you have seven to 10 of those games where you feel you’re untouchable, no matter what you do, you’re making the right plays. Then you’ve got 60-70 games or whatever it is where you’re not just good, you’re consistent. There’s going to be bumps in the road, that’s sports.”
That much is true.
Philly padded its lead with Scott Hartnell’s first of two power-play goals, which made it 4-2.
Montreal briefly stirred at the 7:30 mark of the second, Alex Galchenyuk scored his fourth goal in six games, but then the cavalcade of ineptitude continued in the Montreal end.
Voracek and Claude Giroux mesmerized centre David Desharnais and defencemen Francis Bouillon and Andrei Markov – who had an awful night all around – and the latter scored his 14 th .
In the final minute of the second, Hartnell made it 6-3 on another man-advantage after P.K. Subban – author of two power-play assists to run his team-leading point total to 34 – broke his stick and lost the puck along the boards.
Price’s night was mercifully over (throughout the game he could be seen stretching, perhaps some of his travails are injury-related).
As often happens in games that get out of hand, there were some snarly episodes this night.
The first came at 6:11 the opening frame, when Montreal’s Ryan White tried to spur his team, then down 2-0, with a thunderous hit on Kent Huskins.
The problem is he mistimed it and caught Huskins’ head, knocking him to the ice. Huskins left the game with a concussion.
White earned a major for elbowing and an early shower – he was issued a match penalty and a fighting major after Kurtis Foster stepped in to avenge his teammate. He should expect a phone call from the league office and a healthy suspension.
Later on, Philly’s Jay Rosehill took a run at Gallagher, and in the final period, Montreal’s Tomas Plekanec got body-slammed to the ice by Hartnell after repeatedly cross-checking Danny Briere while he lay on the ice.
Pacioretty even found himself shedding his gloves behind the net with Rosehill, a very ill-advised move.
With 7:15 to play, Hartnell completed the hat trick with a wicked slap shot from the high slot that sailed past Peter Budaj’s glove.
One lonely orange-and-black ballcap was tossed onto the ice.
By then the game was long over anyway.