I wrote last week about the semi-critical nature of the three game swing in which the Habs face the Islanders and Sabres (twice). It wasn’t because those games were in any way do-or-die, but for the fact that the Habs had some upcoming games with some competition that could extend any setbacks the Habs may have had against “easier” competition.
Gutting out a single point in a come-from-behind overtime loss to the Sabres last Tuesday was big, if not relatively disappointing given how lopsided the play was in favour of the Canadiens through most of that game. Every point helps of course, but the Habs lost a point in a game in which they surely would win 9 times out of 10 if it could be replayed with the same conditions.
On Thursday the team did its job by playing a full 60 minute effort against a team that has been inconsistent for most of the year – the New York Islanders. Montreal racked up 5 goals by not relenting to a decent first 40 minutes by the Isles.
Saturday night brought another disappointing loss to the Sabres – this time in regulation. Montreal dug itself an early hole and simply could not find the offensive attack that had made it such a good team for the first 30 games of the season. The loss to the Sabres was troubling specifically because once again Montreal dominated the play, and yet could not find a way to score against a good, but not great Ryan Miller. Not to take away credit from the Sabres for finding a way to win – but you could see the beginning of what could be a troubling trend for Montreal.
The trend continued in Pittsburgh as Montreal was unable to find a single goal against Marc-Andre Fleury and his Penguins.