Regular season game #43
Tick tock tick tock.
That sound you hear is the clock winding down on the regular season that has seen the Canadiens go from a well balanced, disciplined and resilient team to an impotent, wayward and fragile bunch. What gives? Is this more than just a simple slump?. Recently the Canadiens have been out of games in the first period, so perhaps some questions from Habs Nation are justified.
It was another all around rough night for everyone, including Norris trophy contender P.K. Subban, who looked out of sorts and eventually found himself tossed from the game in the third period. Conversely, two bright spots were Lars Eller, who had a pair of assists, and Alex Galchenyuk, who eased the pain of yet another beat down with a beauty goal from in-close on Fleury. While the vets look to keep the pace up, these two youngsters have turned on the jets.
This mini losing skid has been so surreal in the way that the Canadiens have completely imploded on defense, and on a compete level that you get the sense that there’s some sick joke at play from the hockey gods; teams that have played as well as the Habs have all year don’t suddenly forget who to play hockey. Unless you prefer to panic, or denigrate the team’s work to this point, then it’s important to note that the Habs success through 38 games was not a fluke nor an accident. They won games by being great at even strength, and not relying on goaltending to keep their even-strength dominance afloat. That they’ve given up 22 goals since losing Emelin is certainly a concern but I believe his loss is felt more in the domino effect of having to create new pairings, and ask more of older bodies more than the loss of the player himself. Let’s not forget that Emelin was struggling mightily on his own before tearing his ACL. So while the Habs are better with his physicality on the roster than without him, to suggest that this three-game slide is solely due to his absence is ludicrous.
If you’re glass half-full (and there’s no reason not to be), then chalk this up to a team that is going through what every team does at some point during the season. This team needs a break, and then it needs to get some quality practice time in, and in between it needs a players-only meeting to clear the air. While this is not a disaster yet, it hasn’t stopped Habs nation from plunging in to full-blown panic mode before the losing streak has really even heated up. Given the embarrassing the results of the last three games, giving in to panic might feel justified, but things won’t be allowed to fester for much longer. With a game tomorrow night against the saggy Lightning, the down time and the practice will have to wait at least another day.
Tick tock, tick tock.
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