A good night’s sleep is the best thing to cure a raging case of playoff paranoia.
Too bad I didn’t get one..
IThe tossing and turning was probably triggered by the beer I quaffed before turning in – ill-advised, perhaps, but necessary after watching Canadiens sopil the bed in Tampa.
And I fear it will be Jack Daniels after the Panthers game tonight.
If Canadiens lose to Florida, the team is officially in a crunch-time slump.
Ah, who’m I kidding? They’re slumping already.
Canadiens are still in fourth place. But they’re five points ahead of eighth-place Buffalo, which has a game in hand.
The Sabres, who won in Ottawa last night, are hot. Canadiens are not. They’ve lost three in a row, four of their last five. One of the posters to the live blog last night suggested the season turned when Saku Koivu took a penalty against the Rangers. He/she may have a point.
Canadiens were leading that Super Bowl Sunday afternoon game 3-0. Sergei Kostitsyn had electrified the Bell Centre with a successful penalty shot.
Less than seven minutes into the second period, the Captain went off for one of his patented offensive-zone hooks. Michael Rozsival scored on the ensuing power play, the first of FIVE unaswered goals by the visiting Rangers.
In their next game, Canadiens beat Ottawa, while nearly blowing a lead in the third period. Then they lost to the lowly Leafs, the mighty Senators and the cellar-dwelling Lightning.
But hey, stuff happens in the course of a long season, right? Detroit has lost four in a row.
There are, however, troubling aspects to the Canadiens’ slide. If I’m an engineer, I’m getting a bit concerned about structural problems.
• The goaltendng has become suspect. Cristobal Huet played a Jekyll-and-Hyde game: brilliant at times, but all three TB goals were shots he managed to touch. Tonight it’s probably Carey Price, who hasn’t been the second coming of Patrick Roy.
• Teams have figured out how to pressure the Tomas Plekanec line, and Canadiens are getting no secondary scoring. Michael Ryder is still MIA. Christopher Higgins scored a beaut last night, but he’s struggled. If Sergei K. and Guillaume Latendresse are going to play together, they need a more creative centre than Maxim Lapierre.
• Like every other team in the league, Canadiens are vulnerable to injury. They’ve been lucky so far, but the Roman Hamrlik virus, which has morphed into a body rash, has destabilized the D. Props, however, to Ryan O’Byrne, who was solid last night.
• Physical forwards brutalize the Canadiens. We saw it with Ryan Hollweg, Blair Betts and Colton Orr in the Rangers game. Last night it was Chris Gratton and Nick Tarnasky pounding the snot out of the Koivu line. And with all due respect to the great hockey factory that is my alma mater, why was McGill grad and career minor leaguer Mathieu Darche allowed free rein to to buzz around the Canadiens’ zone? Bryan Smolinski, Mathieu Dandenault and Mark Streit, by contrast, were softer than a sneaker full of cow flop. I hope Steve Bégin and Tom Kostopoulos are back tonight.
• Canadiens skated in beach sand. Their passing was pathetic. Tampa Bay clogged the slot, effectively cutting off those pretty cross-ice passes the Pleks line and Andrei Markov like to make.
If John Tortorella can stop screaming long enough to devise a strategy that nullifies Canadiens’ strengths, what will Jacques Martin have in store tonight?