PHILADELPHIA -- If the Canadiens are able to find a way to return to their elite early-season form, it will surely require a full team effort.
After falling behind 2-0 in the first period on Tuesday night following two power play goals by the Flyers, the Habs responded with a power play marker of their own from Andrei Markov. The theme of offensive production from the rearguards continued as defenseman Jeff Petry chipped in another goal from the blue-line to tie the game at 2-2 in the second period.
Though the Flyers jumped out to a 3-2 lead in the third period, a five-minute major penalty assessed to Radko Gudas gave the Canadiens their chance to tie the game up.
Despite the five-minute opportunity with the man advantage, the Canadiens once again would fall just short.
“We took a couple bad penalties but I really liked the way we responded. I thought we played a good first period and responded well in the second to tie the game up. Then it was all just downhill from there. Playing a full sixty has really been a struggle the last couple of months,” expressed Nathan Beaulieu, who drew the primary assist on Jeff Petry’s tying goal in the second period. “I guess you could say we can push a little harder, but when you push too hard it definitely leads to more mistakes. It’s frustrating but we are not ready to give up on each other. We all care for each other and want each other to do well but it starts right here in this room. We really have to look at ourselves in the mirror.”
When the Canadiens kicked off the 2015-16 season with a record 9-0-0 start, much of the talk surrounded around how dangerous a team the Habs can be when they play as a cohesive group. With 24 points coming from the Habs rearguards in the first ten games alone, the team’s defensive core deserves their fair share of credit for the Canadiens historic start to the season.
“There is a fine line that as a young defensemen you need to find, so I am definitely trying to find a good rhythm offensively to try and help the boys up front. But they are trying their hardest too,” continued Beaulieu, who is presently enjoying a career year with regards to his personal offensive production. “We are such a defensively strong team that we are all looking for answers here. The defensemen are trying to help the forwards, the forwards are trying to help out the defensemen and were all trying to help out our goalies.”
However, since the onset of December, Michel Therrien’s troops have only managed to score an average of 1.92 goals per game, which is in sharp contrast to the Canadiens’ 3.52 average goals per game prior to the final month of 2015.
One of the culprits contributing to the drop off in goals has certainly been the decrease in offensive production coming from the back-end in recent months. In fact, prior to Tuesday night’s contest against the Flyers, the Canadiens had gone 29 straight games without registering goals from more than one blue-liner in the same game.
On Tuesday night in Philadelphia, at one end of the Habs’ bench sat the team’s All-Star P.K. Subban trying to help pull his team back together, while at the other end sat a youngster just trying to soak up everything that his first game in a Canadiens uniform has to offer. While the two players are at two different junctures in their careers, both were working towards the same collective goal; leave the Wells Fargo Center with a crucial two points in the standings.
Unfortunately the game did not go according to plan.
“I think it came down to that five minute power play in the third period, and we didn’t score. We have to find a way to put the puck in the net. We battled hard all game but if you look around the league you see it takes three goals to win the game and we just keep on coming up short,” explained P.K. Subban, who represented the Canadiens at the 2016 All-Star game in Nashville this past weekend. “We need to find a way to get that third goal. We would love to win games 1-0, but the majority of the games you need to find a way to put the puck in the net. You have to remember that you have to beat the guy across from you, there are a lot of 1-on-1 battles that we could be winning,” concluded Subban.
“We need to find ways to win games, right now we are finding ways to lose them.” Jared Ostroff is a writer for canadiens.com.
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