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Bizarro World

Regular season game #6

What a difference a day makes! Less than 24 hours after escaping the Bell Center with a 4-3 win, and an earful of applause, the Habs sputtered to a resounding defeat at the hands of the Senators. A 47-1 record was never in the cards, and the Habs just came off a tough game in which they capped off a four-game winning streak. Call it fatigue (hey, the Sens played last night, too), call it “can’t win ‘em all”, but the truth of the matter is that this Habs team is still an average, and still developing group.

Two early fights were a good indication that both teams recognized how important division matchups are in a condensed schedule. Maybe sobering losses to the Leafs and Senators are isolated incidents, but the Habs are now 0-2 against divisional foes, and they haven’t met the Bruins yet (let’s not worry about the shaky Sabres until Saturday).

As the Habs watched the Senators pull away, you couldn’t help but get the feeling that the Habs resembled a hapless gambler at the slot machine, pumping in more money and getting less results. Whenever the Canadiens decided to get their energy up, it ended with the ref’s whistle signalling a penalty. In case anyone was keeping count, the Canadiens’ penalty kill hasn’t been very good so far this year: it has surrendered 7 goals this year while the powerplay, which everyone is giddy over, has produced 9 goals.¬†Therrien will need to make the PK in Subban stand for “Penalty Kill”.

There aren’t many positives to lean on. This looked very much like last year’s team that failed to play with any tenacity or conviction. Lethargy and indiscipline were the culprits tonight. Both are signs of fatigue, but let that not be an excuse – the Habs have a slew of back-to-back situations coming up this year, so they better not let the schedule dictate their fortune, and don’t forget: “NO excuses”. At least Galchenyuk and Gallagher look like they belong.

This is the first real test for Therrien, his staff, and his players. The soft start to their season is history, and they did a good job in collecting eight points, but make no mistake – there was a lot of pixie dust used to bag those eight points. It would be easy to say that five bad minutes in the second period, compounded by Ryan White’s temporary loss of sanity cost the Canadiens the game, but that’s far too convenient. When the powerplay doesn’t produce at abnormally high levels, and when the goaltending isn’t outstanding, the Canadiens struggle. Persistent problems like a negative turnover/takeaway differential and continued sub-50% on faceoffs will do their part to haunt this team, especially on the road.

The sky isn’t falling in Montreal, and if your expectations were set in a realistic way, this loss shouldn’t having looking for the emergency exits. If you were told the Habs would start 4-2, you’d run all the way to the bank.

Follow me on twitter: @kyleroussel

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