Sure, Oliver Ekman-Larsson was a huge piece of the Arizona Coyotes thumping the Montréal Canadiens tonight, but Anthony Duclair's goal and assist in the first period really set the tone for an offense that would plow through goalie Mike Condon, with captain Max Pacioretty doing nothing but watching idly, managing a mere shot on goal and a -3 rating in the process.
This is the game that finally got the first Canadian sports news outlet (in this case, Sportsnet) to call out for head coach Michel Therrien's head, though I don't agree with some of their points, namely that Andrei Markov, P.K. Subban and Tomas Plekanec had abandoned because they combined for a -1 rating; I mean, come on, minus-one playing over 20 minutes (i.e. a combined 60-plus minutes...) in a 6-2 thumping? That's practically a miracle, right there.
With GM Marc Bergevin already stating Therrien's job was secure until the summer, it falls on him to either provide the coach with players who can reinvigorate this team, or to go in full tank mode; unfortunately, both he and the coach subscribe to the generally-accepted notion that this team is centered around goalie Carey Price and that all hope is lost when he's out, a dubious claim at best.
For starters, he has yet to score an NHL goal, meaning if it was all up to him, the best the Habs could hope for would be 0-0 ties going into the shootout. Also, as a starting netminder, he's set to appear in some 60-to-65 games, leaving 20-25 to someone else in the best-case scenario, which means you need to give that time to someone capable, lest you deliberately choose to forego a quarter of your season.
And preparing for injuries to your starting goalie goes two ways: first, your defensive system must allow for some protection that suits your backup (see: the Los Angeles Kings, who made Ben Scrivens look like Jonathan Quick), and secondly, the backup must be ready to take on a larger workload on a whim (case in point: Cam Talbot posting better numbers than Henrik Lundqvist - the actual best goalie in the world, by the way - when The King went down last season with the New York Rangers).
But the Habs' defeat to the Coyotes wasn't just about their own failings; Arizona's young stars played a terrific game, though I see Max Domi inherited his father's dislike of Montréal and temper, which might be costly later in his career (see Milan Lucic somehow always costing his teams games against the Canadiens).
So here's a card featuring speedster and scorer extraordinaire Duclair, who will definitely be an All-Star someday, from In The Game's 2012-13 Heroes And Prospects collection (card #245, part of the CHL Rookie sub-set):