Here’s a sad stat. The only team with more losses through 36 games in the NHL are the pathetic Carolina Hurricanes. And if I’ll use that word to describe a team who only has 2 more losses than us, I may as well extend the adjective to our own club. The Canadiens currently sit tied with 4 teams for 9th in the Eastern Conference. Toronto is 2 points behind with a game in hand and Philidelphia is 1 point back with 3 games in hand. While there is still lots of time left in the season, the Canadiens have ridden their penchant for loosing tight games right into the basement of the league. In fact if the season were to end at 36 games, Montreal would likely end up with the second overall pick in the 2010 draft. The standings do not reveal any favorable view.
How we got here is simple. Terrible penalties caused by players playing too many minutes due to injuries. I’ve said it before, but because of our situation we are allowed NO margin for error. Most teams can give up a stinky goal or two and still manage to pick up wins. But this year’s rendition of the Habs rarely picks up more than three goals. In fact with 2.39 goals scored per match only St Louis (2.36) scores less. You’re not going to be very successfull in the NHL if you’re trying to win every game by a one goal margin (especially if you only score one goal). Carey Price has a better save percentage than goalies like MA Fleury, Jonathan Quick and Pekka Rinne and yet his team sits in next-to-last while the Penguins, Kings and Preds sit comfortably in playoff positions. The Habs have had meltdowns at inopportune moments. They’ve missed chances. All these things happen to teams in the NHL, but for the teams that end up in the basement, it happens consistently.
Maybe its for the best that Montreal take a year to lose. One only has to look at the afformentioned Penguins, Kings and Predators to understand the value drafting high can have for the long term success of your franchise. There is no doubt in my mind that Montreal could use a prospect like Taylor Hall, Cam Fowler or Kirill Kabanov in the system with potential to fill a top 6 forward or top 4 defense spot cheap. The fact is, with the signings we made last season, we’re fairly set to watch this group develop. Players like Cammilleri will still be here next year. If it takes a year for guys like Andrei, Sergei, Max Pac and potentially Subban or Weber to be ready to make a solid contribution, there is no grave harm in spending a season developing home grown talent.
Still, its frustrating to watch your team go the wrong direction when you had hoped they would rise to the top. It is hard for Habs fans to deal with anything but success. There are teams who have suffered far worse. The Islanders who we face tonight are a perfect example. Their young squad is allowed to lose so long as they improve. There is no punishment or public humiliation involved.
Markov is back. Thank the gods. Go Habs Go!!