Make that About tonight …
I can’t sleep on the Canadiens’ latest ignominious loss.
It will give me nightmares.
Two more troubled sleeps until Save-the-Coach’s-Job Night in Canada.
A tad hysterical?
The Canadiens are 1-4-1.
They started 0-5 in 1995, and …
After a 2-0 loss to the Islanders in New York, General manager Serge Savard and coach Jacques Demers were fired and replaced by Mario Tremblay and Réjean Houle.
The Canadiens reeled off six straight wins for Tremblay.
Then very bad things ensued.
OK, Geoff Molson is not going to panic like Ronald Corey.
And no matter what happens, Carey Price won’t be traded to Colorado.
But make no mistake: if the Canadiens play a nationally-televised game against the Leafs the way they did in Pittsburgh, they will lose to the Leafs.
And Molson won’t wait until Monday morning to start asking some very pointed questions in the seventh-floor executive offices of your Montreal Canadiens.
Pierre Gauthier would be well-advised to prepare some answers, just in case.
A word to the wise: “Injuries” won’t cut is as an explanation of the woeful start to the Canadiens season.
The National Hockey League is an experiment in brutal Darwinism. It’s survival of the fittest – and the luckiest.
Everyone has injuries.
Pittsburgh, for example.
Until a goal with 96 seconds and a flurry (no pun intended) of garbage-time pressure, the Canadiens couldn’t muster anything resembling a challenge against a team missing the greatest hockey player in the world, another player who’s in the world’s Top 10 and defenceman who will be part of Norris Trophy discussions when the season is over.
By which time the Canadiens will have scored another power-play goal … maybe.
The PP took yet another 0-for. The Canadiens have scored twice on 26 man advantages this season (oddly, never 5-on-4).
But a pop-gun power play wasn’t the problem in Pittsburgh.
Lacking three of their best, the Penguins sucked it up and blew it out, all over the hapless team in white jerseys.
Did a Canadien win a puck battle or a foot race all night?
Not that I noticed.
Hits aren’t always a reliable indicator of the flow of play, but they offer a pretty good take on intensity.
The Canadiens, who had 27 hits at the Bell Centre against Buffalo, mustered 15 in Pittsburgh. Mathieu Darche, a player of limited gifts who knows he has to work hard, led the hit parade with four in a shade over 13 minutes of ice time. And three of those minutes were on the power-play.
Erik Cole, signed as a free agent to bolster the Canadiens at power forward, had one hit – and one shot on goal.
The Penguins had 26 hits. Deryk Engelland and Ben Lovejoy had 10 between them, and Craig Adams added four.
They say hockey is a game of emotion and intensity.
The Canadiens displayed neither against the Penguins, and it made for a grim spectacle.
There’s no point dwelling on individual performances in the loss.
The whole team sucked – with the exception of Carey Price, who’s getting no help in his quest for a 100th NHL win.
Maybe he’ll get it after the Deecember trade to Vancouver.
But this stumbling, bumbling, fumbling season start is no laughing matter.
The Canadiens and Winnipeg, the only team they’ve defeated this season, are tied for fewest points in the Eastern Division.
No, the playoffs don’t start in early November.
But if the Canadiens continue to fall behind the Conference’s top eight, they will need a winning streak to get back in the hunt.
Does this team strike you as one capable of reeling off a string of Ws?
And check out the rest of this month’s schedule.
After playing host to Toronto in what is sure to be a Saturday Night Passion Play, the Canadiens have improved Florida at the Bell Centre Monday night, then Philadelphia visits on Wednesday, followed by a visit to Boston the next night and the Bruins at the Bell on the 29th.
When October ends, the Canadiens will have played seven of their first 11 games at home – where they are still in pursuit of their first W since April 26 … and that streak of ineptitude includes the preseason.
After the loss to Buffalo, Jacques Martin praised his team’s performance. If the Canadiens played that way in every game, the coach said, they’d win more often than lose.
They didn’t play that way in Pittsburgh.
And if they play this way against Toronto … well, there will be more than a few pundits and fans suggesting Geoff Molson pull a Ron Corey.
Just remember what happened in 1995 – and for too many years thereafter.