Let’s quickly summarize last night’s games to give you an idea of what’s happened to the Canadiens.
Boston: 2 points
Carolina: 2 points
NYI: 2 Points
Toronto: 1 point
Tampa Bay: 2 points
MONTREAL: 0 Points
This has been more or less a nightly occurrence for the past several weeks. The Canadiens getting no points and their Eastern rivals winning, or managing that extra point in an OT loss.
On the contrary, the Canadiens get shut out at home to a nearly 42 year old goaltender and a non playoff team.
There is a very real chance that one team misses the Playoffs by a single point. Should the Habs miss the playoffs you might look at last night as the night that cost them.
Were the Canadiens awful? Arguably. The least you can say is they did play a better game than the two against Ottawa.
Ed Belfour stood on his head as he has now earned the title of Hab Killer along with Erik Cole and Justin Williams and several others. The Habs hit several posts and couldn’t find a bounce all game including a 5-3 in the dire minutes of the 3rd. Is that good enough? Of course not. Not for a team that wants to be in the playoffs.
There is certainly some disturbing numbers on the Habs right now. I’ll share just a few…
They’ve allowed the first goal 9 games in a row. The Canadiens don’t win when they don’t score first. Their confidence tanks the minute a goal is allowed.
Their first line doesn’t produce, and worse than that they allow goals like their going out of style.
Saku Koivu is -16. When your first line Center and your Captain is that bad, what does that say about the team? The most troubling thing is Koivu’s expression on the bench is lifeless, tired, cold. Not characteristics of a Captain leading his team back on track.
Michael Ryder is -21 . 6th WORST +/- in the entire NHL.
Chris Higgins could not score on a soccer net at this point. Since his injury he hasn’t been the same. In recent games he’s looked like the Higgins of old but can not bury one and get the monkey off his back.
Pause for a moment and look at the Standings. The Canadiens sit in 8th place. Isn’t this where they are supposed to be? Isn’t this where they always are? Are we expecting too much of a rookie coach, a rookie starting goalie and a team that’s generally low on skill?
Look at the last few years:
05/06: 7th place.
03/04: 7th place.
02/03: 10th place.
01/02: 8th place.
One could argue we are right on track, and lucky to be there. The bitterness and frustration comes from knowing not long ago the Canadiens held the 2nd highest point total in the East and routinely beat or challenged teams like the Sabres and Thrashers.
What next? The Habs play tonight in New Jersey. The chances of winning, very slim.
If you are a betting man you could safely bet the farm tonight on a Canadiens loss. They have won once in NJ in close to 20 games. If they have so much trouble with the Panthers they will certainly have their hands full with the Devils who are rolling along.
Stranger things have happened, and maybe a good dance with Devils will put them back on track. More likely, the Canadiens will miss out on 2 more points.