It Hab-Ened Last Night: Once Again, Inconsistent Habs

What did I tell you?

The Montreal Canadiens are inconsistent.

And I'm not bringing up my blog from earlier this week to shake my finger and say "I told you so" (ok, maybe I am just a bit). I'm not bringing it up to gloat about how right I was, and how I'm pretty much always right (now that I say that it DOES sound pretty good), but really because it's frustrating as Hell.

I asked this question on Monday, and I'm going to throw it right back out there again today:

Why is it that these Montreal Canadiens are so darn inconsistent? Why is it that on one night, they'll beat a big time rival and a really good team like the Philadelphia Flyers and the Boston Bruins, or even lesser teams that the Canadiens see often and always encounter competitively like the Toronto Maple Leafs or Buffalo Sabres, but then fall flat against teams they should have no trouble defeating, like the Columbus Blue Jackets or, most recently, the Edmonton Oilers?

It simply makes no sense.

You can make the arguments about "let down" games, and about going into some games more confidently than others, or anything else, but frankly, there's no excuse for the performance the Canadiens put on tonight. There's no excuse for how they came out there, with the Montreal Alouettes and the Grey Cup in the building, and over 21,000 fans cheering them on, as usual, and frankly, shat the bed against a team they could have beaten, against a team they should have beaten, and as Eric Engels at CTV Montreal put it, against a team that they had NO CHOICE but to defeat.

Apparently, Jacques Martin and his troupes didn't get Eric's message.

The Canadiens did a lot of good in front of Oilers goaltender Devan Dubnyk, shooting 39 times on the young goaltender, including 15 shots early in the first. Frankly, doing a lot of "good" in the Oilers defensive zone hasn't been much of an accomplishment for any team so far this season, but the Canadiens will take the three goals they scored as a positive coming out of tonight's embarrassment of a game.

They got lucky in the first, scoring a powerplay goal on a Ryan Whitney stick deflection that ended up being credited to Scott Gomez. They scored on the powerplay yet again as Matt Darche would add to his first period assist, scoring his 4th goal of the season halfway through the second period, and would strike again less than 2 minutes later, with Roman Hamrlik netting his second of the season on a nice play from Benoit Pouliot.

Then, things got ugly.

The Oilers would control the pace of the rest of the period. They would come out strong in the third, and force an end-to-end hockey game against one of the slower group of defensemen in the league in the Montreal Canadiens, and the Canadiens would end up paying dearly for it. Ironically, it would be the Canadiens' fastest defenseman who would falter the most.

Despite the Canadiens getting their chances, the Oilers would score at the halfway point of the 3rd, with Ales Hemsky netting his 7th of the season after a scrum in front of Carey Price. Three minutes later, PK Subban would lose control of the puck on a Habs powerplay, and Sam Gagner would make no mistake on the high-short side goal on Price to tie the game at 3.

The Canadiens would then go on to coast to overtime, where they would coast through two minutes of overtime before the Oilers would cap off their embarrassing comeback with a Dustin Penner breakaway goal, thanks to PK Subban and Mike Cammalleri fumbling with the puck on the other side of the ice.

It really isn't fair to name specific players here, because pretty much everyone outside of a few are to blame for this loss. It shouldn't come as a surprise to anyone, but once again, after a strong win against the Sabres last Saturday, the Canadiens simply decided that this game wasn't worth showing up to for a full sixty minutes of play. The result? An embarrassing loss against a team that had no business winning tonight's game, and frankly, a team that WAS being beating with 10 minutes left to play in the game.

With many Habs fans laughing at the Leafs embarrassing loss the night before, who ere leading the Bolts with seconds to go, only to lose in OT, it can only be described as a little bit of karma. Guess what, Habs? You just did the same thing, with a lead that should have been considered "secure", and against one ofthe worst team in the league.

It's like clockwork. One night they're good, the next they're absolute crap. Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde. Use whatever cliché you'd like to use.

But when the Canadiens start playing a lot more road games in a couple of weeks, don't say that I didn't warn you about what could happen.

The Habs step into New Jersey tomorrow night for the tail end of their first back-to-back of the month against a Martin Brodeur-less New Jersey Devils. What this means for the Canadiens is anyone's guess, but the 29th overall team isn't going to give them much of an easier time then what was the 29th overall team just a few hours ago.

The Canadiens benefited from a relatively weak division and a good, easy schedule through the first couple of months, and now things are going to start getting a little arduous. Whether they can continue with their schizophrenic efforts with 10 road games over the next 30 days and continue clinging into their Northeast division lead, or whether we'll be back on the ledge in the new year, at this point, is anyone's guess.

Until tomorrow, when Micheal Aldred and I will be drinking our sorrows in the next TCL liveblog, and this weekend and the next Habs Panel,

Prax
www.twitter.com/GeorgePrax

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Comments

Tyg's picture

Prax the big reason that the Habs are below Washington, Pittsburgh and Philadelphia in the Eastern Conference is that those teams beat the lower-ranked teams consistently, and the Habs consistently lose to them. There's some consistency if you're looking for some, because they are still doing it this season like they did last year. Also, they're still sitting back on 2 goal leads with a period or more to play, and trying to take the rest of the game off, just like they did last season.

What this team SAYS - Gio saying over & over they need to not sit back & get in trouble - and DOES - they sit back and get in trouble - are two different things. I'm not sure if it's a mental block they have and can't get over, or if it's Jacques Martin's stupid defensive shell game, but I think that until they learn to overcome it they can't truly contend. So after a season and a quarter of this, they need to figure it out or else be content with another abbreviated Cup run again.

Washington, Pittsburgh, Philadelphia all come to play. They might have a few players having an off night, but rarely the entire team all at once. Maybe Montreal lacks their killer instinct. Maybe Montreal is too close a team with its brotherhood spirit, because the sour play of one or two seems to magically afflict them all at once half-way through a game. I don't know what it is and I don't care. But it's unacceptable, and it's the players job to overcome and Jacques' job to fix it, and right now none of that seems to be happening so I'm still pretty PO'd this morning. I saw this team last year, and they don't need to be a .500 hockey bubble team, but they seem to choose to be, and I can't understand or endorse that at all.