On many nights this season, Carey Price will be the difference between the Canadiens winning or losing. Last night was one of them. On a night when offence, for once, wasn't an issue, Price played his second dismal home game in as many starts and cost his team the win. The good news is, Price is the least of the Canadiens' worries. He knows he sucked last night, but he's got the talent to pick up his game and return to the form we've come to expect.
So, with that in mind, we should remember there were a lot of good things in last night's game, and a 1-2-1 start doesn't mean the Habs will miss the playoffs. The defence isn't the greatest, but their biggest problem seems to be a lack of cohesion. That's going to happen when three of the D-men have played fewer than 80 NHL games between them. It's also almost inevitable when the pairings are juggled so often every guy has played with every other blueliner on the team. On the plus side, Raphael Diaz is starting to show a bit of a physical side, landing some nice, effective hits. He's already proven to be adept at moving the puck quickly and efficiently. Alexei Emelin, while still appearing a bit hesitant to use his size to its best advantage, is proving he can handle the puck and make some nice passes. He's also not afraid to rush. Josh Gorges looks to be completely recovered from his knee surgery and P.K.Subban got a dose of humility after his glaring giveaway that cost a goal last night. After that, he dialed way back on the dipsy doodling and proved he can play an effective, no-nonsense game when he wants to.
The really exciting thing about last night, though, was the developing chemistry up front, especially among the younger forwards. David Desharnais and Max Pacioretty, when they were recalled from Hamilton last December, were first and second in AHL scoring. That was no fluke because the two of them have a special knack for finding the other on the ice. Pacioretty even said last year that Desharnais is the best centre he's ever had. That was in evidence again last night, with Pacioretty setting Desharnais up for a beautiful, opportunistic goal. Andrei Kostitsyn on that line gives it some extra size and strength and helps shield the smaller Desharnais. Lars Eller, too, looks like he picked up an extra gear over the summer. He and Tomas Plekanec caused some problems for the Colorado defence, and while Erik Cole is still looking for his first goal, he's not going to go pointless forever.
This is a team with significant possibilities, but it's not fulfilling them yet. That's not to say it won't. It may take a couple of weeks, but Carey Price will find his game, the defence will get better and the kids will prove they can score. The team is learning itself right now. When it does, there's every chance it can find a level of consistency that will keep us all away from razor blades and liquor stores. It's tough to do, but the trick right now is just to take it easy.