Sunday, March 27, 2011

The Week That Was

This week, the Montreal Canadiens did something they haven’t done since 1949. Generally when we hear statistics of this nature, we automatically assume the team did something miraculous and marvellous, never before seen in her 101 year franchise history. Unfortunately, there is nothing positive about the record that was set this week. The Canadiens were shutout for 3 street games, their last goal coming 186 minutes and 5 seconds ago on Sunday March 20th. This is no small feat, and it is nothing to be proud of.

It is somewhat karmic to be shutout in the game following an ass-kicking like the Habs delivered in their 8-1 win over the Wild. Therefore, I was expecting a loss against Buffalo Tuesday night. But I was hoping for much more than the 7-0 loss against the Bruins Thursday. This was the team’s chance to come within 1 point of their division rivals, not to mention avenge Max Pacioretty. But nothing of the sort occurred. Instead, the Canadiens were embarrassed by the Bruins in one of the worst hockey games I’ve seen in all my years as a fan. What did the team do? Roll with it. They promised to move forward, and look to Saturday’s game against the Capitals, and fans alike vowed to do the same, preferring to forget the previous 2 games.

When Saturday rolled around, everything seemed to be in place; Ovechkin was not in the line-up for the Capitals, it was a home game (featuring cartoonesque over the top stanchion padding, merely 3 weeks too late), and the Habs were sure to score for their first time in nearly a week. As I arrived at MacLean’s Pub for the Habs Tweetup, I had high hopes. But they were soon dashed.

The Canadiens struggled throughout the 1st period, generating very little offense, as was evident by their 3 shot total for the period. The team faced a similar fate for the remainder of the game, and it was clear they were about to do something they hadn’t done in 62 years.

While it’s easy to say “let’s look ahead” and “let’s move on”, there needs to be some focus on why the team was blanked in three straight games. Firstly, the blame can’t be placed entirely on a majority rookie roster, as several veterans made their return to the line-up this week (Plekanec, Halpern, Darche, Sopel). Secondly, the blame cannot be placed on Carey Price, who is the only one who consistently shows up to every game. He has no support in front. Thirdly, why is Cammelleri playing? He is clearly injured, and needs to be resting up. If Washington can rest up Ovi for the playoffs, why can’t the Habs rest up Cammy? Lastly, this is one of the better groups the Habs have had in several years (excluding Gomez). It makes no sense that they would be so incapable of winning a few key games.

With less than two weeks left in the regular season, the Habs have now put themselves in the position of fighting for a playoff spot, yet again. While I have no doubt that this team will make the playoffs, I’d rather not scrape in with an overtime loss to the Leafs like last year. The Habs need to start scoring, and they can start Tuesday versus Atlanta. It’s a sad truth, but the Habs next goal will be a celebration of epic proportions.

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