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Burning Clutch

Regular season game #12

If you ride your clutch too hard, you no doubt know the smell and feel the slippage when it’s on its last legs. Right now the Habs are like a car driven by someone who hasn’t quite figured out what they’re doing behind the wheel. Nothing is smooth, the car stutters and you can barely get out of the driveway without stalling.

Now that we’re done squeegeeing our brows, we can ask ourselves when this team going to learn to drive stick? Twice in the past week, a comfy lead evaporated in the final minute to grant a conference opponent an extra point, and in the case of the Sabres game last week, two points. Not cool.

The Habs held a 3-0 cushion in this one, and had no business blowing the lead in the first place. The overall impression of the game should leave us feeling fairly positive about the team after the Leafs debacle, as many players had good nights, including PK Subban, Lars Eller, Tomas Plekanec, Josh Gorges, and Colby Armstrong, among others. Why this team seemingly cannot milk a three goal lead with six minutes to go is going to be hotly debated over the next couple of days, but in part the reasons are quite simple:

  • the DNA is largely the same as last year’s mentally mushy team,
  • undisciplined play exacerbates emotional frailty

We could blame the refs for calling so-called chintzy penalties on the Canadiens late in the game, but we refuse to do that. Teams learn from mistakes, and this team so far refuses to learn the lessons presented to them. If they can’t protect leads late in the game without getting silly en route to the sin bin, then wins will be harder to come across than they need to be.

This team still has a lot of growing to do, and they need to find killer instinct  It was totally absent under the last regime, and it has not been seen often during the 12 games of this era. In times like this, you rely on your best player. Thankfully Carey Price was up to the task in the needless shootout. He appears ready to take on a prime leadership role, and be the sorely needed backbone.

All this being said, the Habs are 7-4-1 at the quarter pole of the season. Each and every fan of the team will gladly take that stat and sprint to the nearest bank.

Now if only Michel Therrien will acknowledge that PK Subban and Lars Eller are in serious need of more ice time. Subban was the team’s best defenseman, and Eller was the best forward. Subban deserves more ice time and his old partner, Josh Gorges back, while Eller deserves more ice time and skilled linemates.

By the way, did anyone catch Galchenyuk’s failed shootout move? Kid’s slipping in his old age.


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