To say that there is a lot to address after such a dismal outcome in last nights match-up against the New Jersey Devils would be a gross understatement. To be completely honest with you all, I'm not entirely sure how I feel about last nights game. There are some definite mixed emotions.
I think the first thing that I noticed during the opening frame, was something that I was very aware was going to happen. We watched a team that hadn't competed in four days, hit the ice with very little sense of urgency.
But we also watched a team skate out there with yet another version of it's second line. We watched a team that has had no positive defense, no power play, and little offensive drive, place the potential for a win solely on the head of their goaltender.
I want to address this second line issue first. Pyatt clearly has no place on this line. With 11:50 minutes of even strength TOI (14:41 Total), he managed only one shot on goal, and what seemed to be a fully lackluster performance. At times he seemed to be a distraction to Gomez and Gionta. There was no sense of cohesion between them and the line only managed a total of 9 SOG! Eight coming from the Captain.
I believe that the time has come. Time to place a strong young talented Eller on this line, and watch the magic happen. And I don't mean for a one game tryout. Most of the issues that underlie this line, are the lack of consistency of who plays on it - and consistency can never occur if Martin continues to constantly switch things up. Chemistry does not happen in a single match. And if the head coach isn't willing to try Eller out for 5 games - then at least hand it back to Pouliot, who clearly has JM's favour. Consistency will be the only way that this line will gel.
Getting back to shots on goal by the second line, there also needs to be serious improvement here as well. Actually - that improvement needs to be streamed across all four offensive lines. You can't score goals if you don't shoot. You can't win games if you don't score. Plain and simple. We've all been witness to the fact that sometimes just putting it on net allows you to win the lottery. They need to stop looking for the "Perfect Scoring Opportunity", and blast away. As much as I was never a fan of #99 ... I believe he said it best! I even keep this quote over any desk that I work at, because it certainly rings true.
"You always miss 100% of the shots you don't take".
Amen Wayne - and Thank You for that.
But it wasn't just the offense that struggled last night. Once again our defensive unit bit bone. There was no meat to their play. An astonishing -3 for the favoured pairing of Gorges and Gill. Many times during the night, they just seemed to give up on the play - or shut down. And that left oposing offensive players with chances they should not have had. That was clear on both the Parise and Arnott goals.
That left us Carey Price to once again be responsible for saving the day. Quite frankly - I don't care who's in net. You don't leave your goaltender out to dry on such a consistent basis. That game could easily have been a 6-0 romp had it not been for Price.
But I won't give Carey the easy pass either. Many a fan in Montreal has proclaimed the second coming of "Jesus Price" over and over again. But 3 goals on 20 shots is hardly going to make you a saviour on any team. Despite the fact that the defense lets him down, Price needs to be able to make the saves on the soft shots. No doubt he pulled off some fantastic saves last night, but the soft ones have got to stay out of the net.
I fully expect to see a different team on the ice tomorrow night, when we walk into ScotiaBank Place. I expect to see a team that fully understands that although they had 4 days rest - they played like the team that was more tired. They played at half their potential, and that got them the number of points they deserved.
It's time to get back to playing the game with intensity. We've seen them do it time and again. And tomorrow can be no exception.