The Montreal Canadiens are hoping to even their series with the Tampa Bay Lightning in Game 2 tonight, but they will have to do so without the services of David Desharnais. The 28-year-old forward is battling the flu and is consequently not playing.
Desharnais had 14 goals and 48 points in 82 games in the regular season. He’s recorded two assists in seven playoff contests. This is the first time he’s missed a Canadiens game since the start of the campaign.
Brian Flynn has drawn into the lineup as a result and is centering a line that includes Alex Galchenyuk and Dale Weise.
Montreal surrendered a sixth round pick to acquire Flynn from the Buffalo Sabres on March 2. The 26-year-old had five goals and 17 points in 63 contests in the regular season. He has another goal and three points in five postseason games.
The Montreal Canadiens only managed one goal in plenty of playing time in Game 1 (a double-overtime 2-1 defeat to the Tampa Bay Lightning), shining a light on their scoring issues. It seems as though Alex Galchenyuk is one of the players sweating the most under that spotlight.
Galchenyuk, 21, only has two points in the postseason and has failed to score in five straight contests. Worst yet, he had a rough Game 1, taking three minor penalties before eventually getting demoted.
Like many other Canadiens – Habs Eyes on the Prize points out that their 2.69 shooting percentage in the playoffs is absurdly low – Galchenyuk said he merely hopes to get more bounces, as the Canadiens’ website reports.
“I know I need to go out there and try to help the team win as much as I can, but bounces don’t go your way sometimes. It’s a team sport. We’re all battling. These are really close games. We’ve all got to bring our game to the next level. That’s what I’m trying to do,” Galchenyuk said. “When you don’t get the bounces for a couple of games, you know they’ll eventually come when you keep working. That’s where my head is right now.”
Head coach Michel Therrien seems convinced that the Canadiens are close to breaking through, according to NHL.com.
“There’s a question of hockey karma also,” Therrien said. “You need breaks. We hit two posts, so we’re talking about an inch. If it’s one inch towards the inside, our offense is outstanding. It’s perception. But we don’t live in perception, we live in reality. We created good scoring chances, and if we keep working with the same determination we’ll get back on track.”
For better or worse, many eyes will be on Galchenyuk tonight and through the rest of the playoffs. That’s just the nature of playing in a pressure-cooker atmosphere such as Montreal.
The thought has been that Tampa Bay Lightning superstar Steven Stamkos was “due” and that maybe a change in opponent in the Montreal Canadiens would finally light his fire.
That didn’t happen in Game 1 of the second round, however, as he failed to generate a point in a 2-1 double-overtime win for the Bolts.
Many focus on Stamkos’ zero goals so far in the 2015 Stanley Cup playoffs, and for a while, that might not have been a fair narrative (people all too often ignore assists, for one thing). His lack of production is more glaring as time goes on, however; Stamkos only has one assist in the past six playoff games. He’s gone two straight contests without a point.
There are bright sides – he’s still shooting, his team is generally winning and he hasn’t been on the ice for a ton of goals allowed – yet the Habs are at the point where they’re quietly noticing his lack of points. Devante Smith-Pelly told NHL.com that he didn’t want to “jinx” their success.
“You look at the stat sheet and you see Stamkos didn’t have a goal, but at the same time that’s the guy you’re really worried about,” Smith-Pelly said. “If he gets one, chances are it’s going to snowball the wrong way for us. We did a good job and we’re going to continue to play hard on all their guys.”
Again, it’s not all bad, though.
Of course, the troubling thing for the Canadiens and other teams is that the Lightning are winning even with opponents neutralizing Stamkos. The line of Ondrej Palat, Tyler Johnson and Nikita Kucherov is picking up the slack to the point that his struggles haven’t been fatal. The Bolts are hoping they can keep this pick-your-poison proposition going.
For Stamkos’ perspective on his struggles, read this post.
Montreal Canadiens head coach Michel Therrien was upset with what he believed to be a missed offside call seconds before the Tampa Bay Lightning scored the double overtime winner in Game 1 on Friday.
Nikita Kucherov scored the goal. However, about 12 seconds before, it appears Tampa Bay is offside entering the Montreal zone on the rush. No call was made, and Kucherov eventually buried his shot from the slot.
“It’s really frustrating to lose a game on an offside. Those things aren’t supposed to happen,” said Therrien, as per John Lu of TSN.
In the first overtime, the Lightning appeared to have the winner, but the goal at the end of a Kucherov breakaway was disallowed when the official determined Kucherov forced the right pad of Carey Price into the net on the save.
Nikita Kucherov appeared to have the winner in the first overtime. No dice, the goal waved off when the referee determined goalie Carey Price had his right pad pushed into the net.
The disappointment of that moment was wiped away shortly after, as Kucherov ripped a wrist shot from the slot and by the left pad of Price to give the Tampa Bay Lightning a 2-1 double-overtime victory and a 1-0 series lead over the Montreal Canadiens on Friday.
This, too, was a controversial moment. About 12 seconds before Kucherov scored, the Lightning appeared to be offside as they entered the zone.
And so continues Tampa Bay’s winning ways over the Habs this season.
As one might expect with Ben Bishop and Price, Game 1 turned into a goalie duel, with both making terrific saves, including a Bishop glove stop with the pads stacked on Tomas Plekanec on a short-handed two-on-one rush that kept it a scoreless game in the second period.
Tyler Johnson gave Tampa Bay the lead early in the third period on a deflection for his seventh goal of the post-season, which leads all NHL players so far.
He was shaken up a few minutes later, after taking a cross check from Brendan Gallagher, but he did return.
Max Pacioretty sent the game to overtime. As good as Bishop was, making 43 saves for the eventual win, he whiffed on Pacioretty’s wrist shot late in the third period. It could’ve been a costly blunder.
However, Bishop made up for his one mistake, making 13 saves in overtime.