MONTREAL – Every season has its fair share of ups and downs. Head coach Michel Therrien classified Thursday night’s tilt – a 3-2 loss to the Blue Jackets – among the latter.
After watching his troops come away empty-handed on Bell Centre ice, the Canadiens bench boss didn't mince words when evaluating the 70th game of the regular season from start to finish, one that snapped the club's three-game winning streak.
“Tonight was a bad night. We’ve had many of them this season, and tonight wasn’t good for us,” offered Therrien, who saw his club take eight minor penalties on Thursday night, spending 15:10 in short-handed situations while being outshot by a 40-27 margin overall. “We didn’t play a good game. We didn’t deserve to win, even if we were in a position to pick up a point.
“When you talk about a bad game, it’s the whole thing,” added Therrien, who was disappointed with the manner in which the Blue Jackets dictated play for the better part of the game with their speed, while outhitting the Canadiens 36-17 on the night. “When you’re first on the puck, you put the other team in trouble. That was the case with us. That’s why I’m disappointed.”
If Therrien was dissatisfied with Thursday night’s outcome, the players themselves were equally frustrated, knowing full well that they had more to offer in support of starter Carey Price, who made 37 stops in just his third start since returning from injury on Mar. 15.
“It’s not ideal spending that much time on the PK. There are a lot of guys sitting on the bench for long stretches of time that should be out there. It’s not good for our rhythm. We want to be five guys on the ice, for sure. They made us react to them. When they do that, we’re taking penalties,” noted Lars Eller, who was one of three Canadiens that generated four shots on goal on Blue Jackets starter Sergei Bobrovksy to no avail. “Small things made a difference in the end. We didn’t capitalize on our chances. Carey kept us in the game. We were right there, but small things made a difference.”
Case in point was an untimely giveaway by defenseman Jarred Tinordi that afforded Ryan Johansen the chance to break a 2-2 tie with just over three minutes remaining in the third period. The 21-year-old forward made no mistake, picking up his team-leading 27th goal of the year after Thomas Vanek had managed to level the score nine minutes earlier.
“Johansen’s a quick player. I should have anticipated that he was going to be there,” confided Tinordi, who logged 15:29 of ice time on Thursday night. “I didn’t see him there from the start. I knew that they were coming, but I thought that I had room to make that play. Obviously, I didn’t. That’s one that I’d like to have back for sure.”
Like Eller, Tinordi was quick to praise the manner in which a Blue Jackets squad battling for its first playoff appearance since 2008-09 came to play after dropping their two previous meetings with the Habs this season.
“They’re a hard working team. We knew that they pressured the defensemen a lot, they pressured a lot in the offensive zone and they cycle well. I don’t know if we expected that much pressure or not, but I think we were just a little bit flat-footed,” mentioned Tinordi. “We didn’t start out the way we wanted to. We made a push. We hung around. Price kept us in there with huge saves. It’s on us to finish the game off for him.”
That’s something the Canadiens will undoubtedly look to do when they hit the road on Friday afternoon for games against a pair of Atlantic division rivals in Toronto and Boston. Matt Cudzinowski is a writer for canadiens.com.
The Numbers Game – March 20, 2014
Number cruncher: Vanek’s bushels of goals