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On the Prowl: GIFs of the Week, Al Montoya version

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The Panthers lost to the Flames 6-4 on Saturday. How much of the blame belongs to Al Montoya, and how much of it belongs to the defense?

Robert Mayer-USA TODAY Sports

Defensive collapses abounded in the most recent game the Florida Panthers played, as the youthful Calgary Flames scored six goals against backup goaltender Al Montoya. The performance wasn't Montoya's best, the blueline looked suspect at times, and seemed to regress from the sturdy, defensive hockey the team had been playing. With that in mind, we're going to take an objective look at the performance on Saturday, as it was probably the toughest loss the Cats have experienced all season.  (Captain Willie Mitchell certainly thought so.)

Goal 1

Montoya at fault

Montoya clearly loses sight of the puck as it comes into his crease. When he recovers it, he reaches out to smother it, but leaves his five hole wide open. That's an easy goal for the Flames player in front of the net and never should have been. Montoya should not have lost sight of the puck, and shouldn't have needed to reach out to grab it.  It should have been covered as soon as it got that close to the crease. Also, even when he did reach out, there's no reason as to why his five hole should have been left so wide open. There's no way that shot should go in from right there, especially since he is literally directly in front of the shooter.

Defense at fault

Aaron Ekblad got burned by Johnny Gaudreau, who went right around Ek and managed to get the puck to the front of the net. Once the puck was in front of the net, Brian Campbell got out muscled and Jones was left with the easy slam dunk. Not only does Campbell have to do a better job of clearing the area, but Ekblad has to keep guys from getting the puck on goal while on the rush. There's no reason why either one of the shots should have been taken, and it's ridiculous to think Montoya could have made this save.

Goal 2

This is the one goal where I truly believe you can't assign blame to anyone. Kulikov gets knocked over in the offensive zone, and Huberdeau actually makes a good play to keep Bouma from having an uncontested breakaway. Montoya makes the save, but then gets run over by Bouma. Gudbranson loses sight of the puck, but the whistle probably could have been called, as Montoya was out of the net and the puck isn't exactly wide open in the middle of the crease. A plethora of bad bounces leads to this one, and the Flames net an easy short handed goal.

Goal 3

Montoya at fault

Rebound control, anyone? That shot from Curtis Glencross needs to be directed away from directly in front of the net. Campbell makes this fact ridiculously obvious as he plays as if the puck is headed into the corner.  Sure, Jiri Hudler beats him to the puck, but he shouldn't have to be involved in a scrum for it after such a weak shot. To further that, how does Hudler's shot even go in? Montoya slides way too far over in an attempt to cover the net, and it leaves the top right corner of the cage open. The biscuit tips off of Montoya's shoulder, and finds its way into the basket. On this one, there never should have been a juicy rebound, and the rebound never should have gone in.

Defense at fault

Again, Campbell fails to clear out in front of the net.  A shot from that close in has a chance of going in everytime.  It can't be Montoya's fault that his defense keeps letting shots be taken from that close to the net.

Montoya at fault

This one just looks like a case of laziness. Montoya is simply sitting in the crease when Gaudreau throws the puck across, and barely manages to stick his leg out, AFTER the puck has gone in the net.  Also, if he gets the paddle of his stick down, there's no way that the puck would even make it to Sean Monahan.  It would stop right on his stick, and sit there for an easy cover.

Defense at fault

Ekblad gets beat by the speed of Gaudreau AGAIN, as he tries to follow last year's Hobby Baker winner around the net.  With the puck in front of the net, Campbell again gets outmuscled and the Monahan has an easy tap in past Montoya.

Montoya at fault

Lance Bouma isn't known for his shooting ability, and yet he manages to easily deposit the puck behind Al Montoya.  Montoya looks out of position on this shot again, and his glove hand is just too slow to snag the puck.

Defense at fault

This is a three on two, so you can't really blame the defense here. Instead, the blame should fall on the forwards. Someone has to be back checking to pick the trailer up, and Bouma is given a one timer in the high slot. That's a tough shot to stop, and fault doesn't fall on Montoya for this one.

Conclusion

I personally feel that Montoya lost this one for the Cats. Though he was left out to dry for a couple of goals, his poor control of the puck while it's in his crease led to more goals than the defense did.

On that note, I also could see why people are frustrated with the defense here.  Important to note is that while Campbell did fail to win battles in front of the net, Ekblad was also beat wide multiple times.  Ekblad should be in front of the net, and Campbell should be chasing people in the corners.  On the first goal, it's understandable that the two don't have a choice in the matter.  On the fourth goal, however, Ekblad follows Gaudreau around the net, despite the fact that Gaudreau was going onto Campbell's side of the ice.  If Campbell takes Gaudreau on, and Ekblad goes to clear the crease, I doubt that Monahan manages to score on that play.

The Panthers need to try and put this one behind them as they move on to host the San Jose Sharks tonight (LBC GameThread at 7 pm).  Diagnosing where the defensive breakdowns occurred should be the first step in that direction.