Carey Price Can’t Score
The only thing the HABS had going for them was Carey Price and the transition pass up ice that died on the boards or was broken up by the Leafs.

The Toronto Maple have won a playoff game in Montreal for the first time since 1967, taking a 2-1 series lead, by beating the Canadiens 2-1 in Game 3. The story of the game through the first two periods: Carey Price. The story of the game for the HABS in the third period: Caufield. 


This was a tale of two teams for the Montreal Canadiens as they struggled to register shots through the first two periods and relied heavily on the stellar play of Carey Price. In fact, if not for Price, the Leafs probably would have been leading about 4-1 after two. Price made diving stick saves, stretched out glove saves, saves down low, up high, and through traffic. The two goals that did get by him were preventable team breakdowns. The only thing Carey Price didn’t do in the first two periods was score. While Carey was holding down the net, one had to wonder what the rest of the team was really doing? They didn’t seem to be playing their game 1 strategy of hit hard and hit often, they really weren’t able to gain the offensive zone, and they weren’t able to establish any type of cycle. In fact, they had zero shots on net during a 4-minute powerplay in the first period. On the other hand, the Leafs seemed to own the HABS for long cycle stretches and frustrate them at the offensive blue line. The one error the Leafs did make, Suzuki cashed in on.


For a while I was starting to think the Ghosts from The Forum had manifested themselves in the current roster of the Montreal Canadiens but remained invisible because the only thing the HABS had going for them was Carey Price and the transition pass up ice that died on the boards or was broken up by the Leafs. 


So, what happened in the third period? The strategy shifted, that’s what. The HABS coach opened up the tap and let a couple of the kids go. Caufield dominated the period with his energy and skill. Suzuki and Kotkaniemi also contributed to a fast pace that saw the HABS dominate the Leafs outshooting them 12-1 at one point in the period. Where was that HABS team in the first two periods? While they out-hit the Leafs in the game, they weren’t game-changing hits, but the speed and skill they showed had Toronto on their heels and Jack Campbell made a few nice saves along with being the benefactor of some lucky bounces too.


You have to wonder though if Ducharme actually had a plan at the start of this series or if he was just rolling the dice to see what might work because three games in and there hasn’t been a lot of consistency in his system. At this rate, all the Leafs need to do is go along for the ride. If the third period HABS show up for Game 4, we have a better series on our hands, especially if Carey Price continues to provide stability in the net without having the added pressure of also trying to score. 


This is an opinion article by Guido Piraino of The Monthly Social Podcast and may be heard on The Path Radio.