The word "excellent" was still ringing in everyone's ears as we walked out of the press conference, and I was wondering which goalie Martin was referring to. Price was weak on the first two goals, plain and simple, and it was clear Martin didn't want to call him out. Price didn't speak to reporters after the game, which is generally a a requirement for that night's starter in goal.
This was the second straight game Price gave up two goals to put his team in a hole. Thursday night the Habs power play bailed him out. Saturday night, it didn't.
That's why, even though Martin was clearly sugar-coating his goalie's performance, I agree with his assessment that the bigger story was the futility of the power play, missing out on six chances and giving up a shorthanded goal. And what's an even bigger story is that Andrei Markov - as frank and honest a player as there is in the Habs room - felt the Canadiens just didn't bring their lunch pails for a game that had pretty heavy consequences on the conference standings.
If the Canadiens would have won this game, they'd be sixth in the conference right now. Instead, they're ninth.
“We were not working enough," Markov said. "We need to move the puck quick, we need traffic in front of the net and we need the shots. Tonight, I don’t know what happened, but we need more.”
When asked by veteran reporter Marc De Foy how Markov could explain a lack of effort like that in a game that was so important, Markov stopped and thought about it, a rarity from an athlete. He thought about it for a good five seconds before saying: “Actually I can’t explain that. Everybody knew that was a huge game for us, and we just lost the game. They were better, they outworked us, and there’s no excuse for us.”
The lack of power play success Saturday is a byproduct of a far more dire issue for the Habs, and that is the lack of depth of talent up front. With one key player injured in Andrei Kostitsyn, the Tomas Plekanec line is in disarray because Matt D'Agostini has been dragging his new linemates down to his level, or at least it seems that way.
Perhaps Sergei Kostitsyn will work once he returns from his ankle injury, which appears to be far more serious than the team is letting on, but he's done nothing this season to suggest he will be able to give that line a little more punch.
While Carey Price was spotting the Senatirs two freebie goals tonight, the guy sitting on the bench was again a topic of discussion. ESPN.com's Pierre LeBrun mentioned on the Satellite Hot Stove that Bob Gainey has been discussing Halak with the Dallas Stars for the past two weeks, and RDS's Renaud Lavoie followed that up by confirming the information and adding that Marty Turco might be the guy coming back in the deal.
I don't particularly see the point of doing that, since Turco is a UFA at the end of the season and makes about $5 million more per season than Halak does, but I think what has become clear since Gainey began shopping Halak is that he will not find a top-six forward coming back. I'm not even sure he could get a top-nine forward out of any trade.
The only possibility I could envision with Dallas would be Fabian Brunnstrom, whom the Canadiens were interested in signing when he was at the centre of a Jonas Gustavsson-like free agent frenzy two years ago. The Stars recently called Brunnstrom back from a two-week "conditioning" stint in the AHL, where he had five points in six games, but he wasn't in the lineup Thursday night against Montreal. You would have to imagine if he was someone being discussed in Halak talks, he probably would have played in that game.
In 79 games with Dallas over the last two years, Brunnstrom has 18 goals and 18 assists. Not bad totals, but perhaps not what the Stars were expecting when they signed him to a two-year, $4.45 million contract. And Brunnstrom, like Halak, is a restricted free agent at the end of the year. If the Stars have already decided they won't sign him, then trading him for a goalie they would be interested in keeping long-term would make perfect sense.