This week on the Sick Podcast, host Tony Marinaro was joined by Global TV’s Brian Wilde to discuss the Montreal Canadiens’ disappointing 5-2 loss against the Toronto Maple Leafs in game 2 of the Stanley Cup playoffs.
The big story of game 1 was Carey Price’s spectacular performance, stopping 35/36 shots on goal. Despite letting in four goals in game 2 (the fifth goal being on an empty net), Price still had himself a good game, making 29 saves on 33 shots.
Unfortunately, Tony Marinaro found himself in hot water amongst Habs fans after he tweeted that Price should have saved Toronto’s third goal. This goal would end up being the momentum changer for both teams, as Habs coach Dom Ducharme decided to challenge the goal, feeling that Leafs forward Joe Thornton had interfered with Carey Price. To no one’s surprise, the challenge was overturned, and Toronto was awarded their fourth consecutive power-play. The Habs ended up spending almost half of the second period on the penalty kill.
One of the biggest issues the Habs needed to deal with going into this series was how to stop Toronto’s Auston Matthews. The Rocket Richard trophy winner has been dominant all season against the Canadiens, and despite being held off of the scoresheet in game 1, he took no prisoners in game 2, scoring three points (1 g, 2a).
Throughout the season, Phillip Danault has been the guy in charge of shutting down the top lines, and although he has done a serviceable job, this takes away from his linemates’ offense. Marinaro suggested an interesting strategy. “Wouldn’t it make more sense to put Phillip Danault in between Lehkonen and Byron and say ‘ok guys, you know what your mandate is, you’re the shutdown line. If you shut down the Matthews line, we believe we have a pretty good chance’. At that point, that liberates his linemates.”
Cole Caulfield has been another topic of discussion for Habs fans, as he put up an impressive four goals in only 10 games this past season, however, he is yet to suit up for a playoff game. With the lack of scoring going on within the Canadiens, many fans are eager to see Caulfield make his playoff debut. Unfortunately, Brian Wilde isn’t convinced that we will see Caulfield in game three. “This whole organization favors veterans so much. Before Caulfield could get in, they have to hate someone enough to take them out,” said Wilde. “If I’m to answer about Caulfield coming in, I want to say yes. They aren’t scoring, and their powerplay is crap. However, which guy are they taking out?”
There is no doubt that the Habs need to have an answer for the Auston Matthews line. If they want to win the series, they need to keep the pucks out of their net as it is clear that goal scoring is still a major issue. Cole Caulfield might be a solution to this problem, however his ice time is up to the Canadiens staff.