Every year, the one trip that probably worries Montréal Canadiens fans the most is the West Coast trip where they play the Los Angeles Kings, San Jose Sharks and the Anaheim Ducks. Historically, it has never been a good trip.
Stop 1: Staples Center
This year was no different. It started off with a visit to the Los Angeles Kings on Tuesday night. The Habs had no problem defeating them as they beat them by a score of 3-1. The Habs got goals from Brendan Gallagher who recorded his second straight 30-goal season, Jordan Weal who played his first game in a Habs uniform and Shea Weber.
Stop 2: SAP Center
The worst of the road trip came Thursday night when they faced off against the San Jose Sharks at the SAP Center. The last time the Habs won in San Jose was a 3-2 overtime decision on November 23rd, 1999 and the winner was scored by Craig Rivet. Since that goal, the Habs have gone 0-9-2 in their last 11 meetings since then (NBC Sports California).
Unfortunately, the Habs misery continued with a 5-2 loss. Antti Niemi was the goalie of record. He let in some soft goals that should not have gone in. This season, Niemi has had some bright spots. He recorded a career-high 52-save performance against the Florida Panthers back in mid January (NHL.com) and a New Year’s even win in Dallas against the Stars, but he just can’t seem to find that form again.
What’s worse? Some of the Sharks players were hit with the flu bug and still managed to continue their dominance over the Habs on home ice.
“”I think we’re dealing with a little bit of flu going through the team and a little shorthanded. I thought our goalie was our best player tonight, which gave us a chance, and I thought our third period, when we had to have a big period, we got our best period of the game. We did enough to win an important game.”” – Peter DeBoer (Quote from NHL.com)
Based on DeBoer’s comments, they needed a strong third period and they got it when they needed it the most. They limited the Habs chances and got solid goaltending from Martin Jones who’s having a sub-par season despite winning 33 games. His save percentage is under .900%. Plus, he’d be the first to tell you it could be better. But, he was able to keep the Habs at bay on Thursday night.
Stop 3: Honda Center
The last stop on the road trip was a visit to the Anaheim Ducks. The Ducks have nothing to play for. They are just playing for pride as they are well out of a playoff spot. Price was the goalie of record and had a chance to surpass Plante for most Habs wins. Instead, the Ducks had other ideas and lit up the Habs for a season-high 8 goals.
The only bright spot for the Habs was when Weber scored his 200th career goal in the NHL. The Habs dug themselves a hole early in the game and could not salvage it in the end.
Looking Back On The Trip
The Habs woke up Sunday morning and found themselves on the outside looking in when it comes to the playoffs. Now, the Habs will have to find that extra gear down the stretch if they hope to have any playoff aspirations this year. Otherwise, they’ll be watching the playoffs from home like the other 14 teams who won’t get in.
The Habs take on the Detroit Red Wings at the Bell Centre tomorrow night. They’ll be looking for a win to help put their awful road trip behind them.
stats from NHL.com and hockey-reference.com
featured image photo credit – Nikos Michals