Not even in the home of country music will you find a song sad enough to describe the pitiful situation of your Montreal Canadiens.
Love Hurts comes close. Just apply lyrics of the Boudleaux Bryant classic to what this hockey team is doing to your achy-breaky heart:
Love hurts, love scars, love wounds
And mars, any heart
Not tough or stong enough
To take a lot of pain, take a lot of pain
Love is like a cloud
Holds a lot of rain
Some fools think of happiness
Some fools fool themselves I guess
They’re not foolin’ me
Are the Canadiens still foolin’ you?
We’re 20 games in; and to mark the quarter-pole, the team played their worst game of a long season.
The scary part is: 62 to go.
Don’t let the score mislead you.
Without Carey Price – tying team records for saves in a period, 23, and a game, 53 – this one is at least 6-0.
And this wasn’t San Jose or some other Western Conference Cup contender.
The Nashville Predators began the evening in 12th place in the Western Conference. They had scored 37 goals – tied with woeful Carolina for fewest in the league.
How does a team that can’t score rack up 55 shots against the Canadiens?
How does a team that gave Phoenix 20 shots in Thursday’s game give Nashville that many in the first 15 minutes?
In addition to the 55 on Price, there were 10 blocked shots and 13 misses. That’s 78 times a Predator brought his stick into contact with the puck and sent it in the direction of the Canadiens’ net.
The comparable Canadiens total: 37, including 20 shots.
That’s the basketball score at halftime when the U.S. plays Iceland.
How does Steve Sullivan, who had one goal in Nashville’s 17 previous games, bag two while firing 11 shots?
11 shots. Andrei Kostitsyn has 38 THIS SEASON!
Nashville took two minor penalties, both in the offensive zone.
The Canadiens were so docile and unthreatening, Jordin Tootoo couldn’t even be bothered to run anyone.
Brutal – and you could read the hopelessness on the faces of the habitually-happy RDS analysts.
Jacques Demers and Joel Bouchard looked like they’d just watched their cocker spaniels hit by a bus.
Maybe their bonuses are pegged to April ratings.
Bouchard was unequivocal: If Jacques Martin gets this team into the playoffs, he’s the coach of the year.
But why should he settle for the Jack Adams Trophy?
If Martin gets this squad into the postseason, he’ll be one miracle up on beatification?
Think I’m being my usual drama queen/roller coaster/bandwagon hopping self?
After a visit by Carolina on Tuesday – and that won’t be a gimme – the Canadiens play in Washington on Friday and return to the Bell Centre for a Saturday date with – gulp! – Detroit.
If Nashville had 55 shots, how many will the Capitals get?
The Red Wings?
Look, I love Brian Gionta. But should his absence reduce the Canadiens to total suckitude?
There have been many injuries on defence, and I’m not going to dump on Jaro Spacek, playing hurt, for a less-than-stellar game. The situation on D was so dire Marc-André Bergeron logged 1:13 on the PK.
Spatch, Roman Hamrlik and Paul Mara played huge minutes, most of the time spent in the exhausting pursuit of the puck in their own zone.
Where was the Jacques Martin system? Where were the forwards coming back to help out against relentless Nashville forechecking and a blizzard of shots coming at Price from all angles?
Apart from depriving Guillaume Latendresse of a well-deserved night in the pressbox, Gionta’s injury – a footproblem, and reports are it looks bad – demonstrated the team’s lack of depth at forward.
Maxim Lapierre, a centre, played RW with Scott Gomez and Mike Cammalleri.
For a few futile shifts.
Then it was Ryan White on the top line.
I love White. The kid busts his stones on every shift.
But if White is your first line RW, even for part of one game, you’ve got BIG problems.
The Tomas Plekanec line? Invisible.
The 3Ms did what they could – Metro, Moen and Max-Pac are nothing if not gamers – but they’re not difference-makers.
The Montreal Canadiens’ only difference maker is Carey Price.
He was the difference between 2-0 and a REALLY embarrassing final score.
And as has been the case in nearly all of his starts this season, Price’s teammates played crap in front of him.
They’ve been better for Jaro Halak, but better than crap still doesn’t cut it in a very tough hockey league.
Guys that don’t compete for 60 minutes are … well, roll video on nearly every Habs game.
Give the team 20 games, the more rational pundits advised, heading into the season.
Well, here we are.
The Canadiens are 9-11. They’ve scored 49 goals and allowed 59.
They are on pace for a 73-point season – which would be the lowest since 70 points in 2000-’01.
That got Alain Vigneault fired and the hapless Réjean Houle replaced by André Savard.
Jacques Martin has finished the first 20 games of a four-year contract. He isn’t going anywhere.
Bob Gainey is in Year 7 of the five-year rebuilding plan.
With his fre-agent spending spree, the general manager bet all in. The future of this team is tied to the performance of Gomez, Cammalleri and Gionta.
On a grim night in Music City, the future – near- and long-term – looked kinda bleak and may have had long-suffering Habs fans thinking of a Patsy Cline classic:
I’m crazy for tryin’ and I’m crazy for cryin’
And I’m crazy for lovin’ you.