October 25, 2011

Rock bottom in Montreal?

The Habs are now 1-5-2 to start the year. Including a horrendous 0-3-2 record at the Bell center where they have 20,000+ fans on their side. There are literally zero bright spots on this team right now. Sure they have outplayed teams in certain games, look at the Buffalo game as an example, where Montreal carried the play for the majority of the game, but got shut down by Ryan Miller, that game was acceptable, as Miller is one of the best in the league at what he does. However, Montreal just simply hasn’t been able to get any big plays when they need them, and have continued to come up on the losing end of games. But despite heading into tonight’s game with a 1-4-2 record, there was still a lot of games left this season to make up ground. But the Habs needed a win against Florida badly. Florida is far from a powerhouse team, they were starting a goalie of the future, who although is very talented, is not a legitimate #1 goalie at this point, and is far from proven. Not only that but the game was at the Bell Center, and you had no shortage of motivation with the media and fans throughout the city calling out almost every single member of the Canadiens. So you figured tonight was the night that the Habs would get it turned around. But it just wasn’t meant to be, as the Habs lost 2-1 dropping the overall record to 1-5-2. That is only 4 of a possible 16 points! I know we are still in October and that there is a lot of time to make up ground, however, if this whole gets too deep, it will become almost impossible to get out of. Look at the Devils last year, they were the hottest team in the league after the All-Star break, yet still missed the playoffs, because of the whole they dug themselves at the beginning of the year. And it’s not like the Habs were one of the top teams last year, this is a team that finished only 5 points up on 9th place last year. What is especially concerning about that, is the fact that Montreal only made the playoffs by 5 points, despite starting off last season 5-2-1 in the first 8 games. Clearly, Montreal is going to have to play a lot better than they did the rest of the year last year to guarantee themselves a playoff spot. These points might not seem like much right now, but they add up, just ask teams like New Jersey or Toronto last season.

So what exactly is wrong in Montreal? To be quite honest, just about everything! Both special teams were brutal coming into the game against Florida, as the Powerplay was 29th in the league with the Habs scoring only 10.5% of the time. The penalty kill wasn’t much better as they ranked 20th, only killing off 81.2% of the penalties. No player has more than 6 points, in fact only 4 players have gotten to the 5 point mark. The only player to even score 3 goals is Travis Moen, as he has scored 4 times so far. When Travis Moen is your leading scorer, that is usually a sign that things aren’t going right! The top off-season acquisition in Erik Cole has only 2 points and is -4, and has been benched on the powerplay to make room for M. Darche…OUCH! PK Subban the teams top player, and a player many believed could be a potential Norris candidate, has no goals, only 2 points, and is a team worst -6! The 2 points is unacceptable considering the fact that PK is averaging a whopping 25 minutes a game. But perhaps, the most concerning player of all is Vezina candidate Carey Price. Price current has a 3.13 GAA, and a brutal .878 save %. Those numbers are a far cry from the stellar performances that we all became accustomed to with Price last year. For the Habs to get out of this funk and climb back into the standings, it’s going to take a team effort. They are going to need more from every single player, because right now there isn’t a single player who should be happy with their performances, and the same could be said for public enemy #1, Head Coach Jacques Martin.

The only good news for Habs fans is that there is a lot of time left in this season, and the team showed last year that they have the talent to be a playoff team. Now it’s just about not panicking, finding a way to stop the bleeding and turn things around. But whatever they do, they better do it quick, because the longer they wait, the tougher it will be to get back into the playoff race. One thing is for sure though, things are not going to get any easier for the Canadiens with the next 3 games coming against the Flyers on Wednesday and then the Bruins twice in a row. It might feel like rock bottom right now, but with tough matchups like that coming up, this could get even worse, unless the Habs find a way to turn things around and quick!

Grant Robinson (@thesportsgrind)

Check out my podcast at www.grantrobinson.podbean.com

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