What if the Rangers game, aka the Greatest Comeback in the History of Sports, really was the turning point of the Canadiens’ season?
They haven’t won since. And while the team is still sitting fifth in the Eastern Conference, the upcoming schedule is scary.
After Atlanta plays at the Bell Centre on trade deadline day, Canadiens travel to Buffalo on Friday and play host to New Jersey 24 hours later. Then it’s a four-game road trip to San Jose, Phoenix, Los Angeles and Anaheim before comng home to play the Devils and Ottawa.
Hands up everyone who, on the evidence of last night’s game, thinks this team is primed for a win streak.
The Columbus bench must have had a clearer view of the banner being raised to the Bell Centre rafters. The Blue Jackets played Bob Gainey hockey, while the home team was under the impression that the number 15 was being retired.
Uh no, guys. It wasn’t Sergei Samsonov Night. So what was with all that pussying around on the perimeter like so many great big Cs?
This was Pascal Leclaire’s ninth shutout, and I doubt he’s had an easier one. With no red jerseys going to the net to obscure his view, Leclaire serenely kicked out 31 shots.
There was no pressure on the Columbus defence. Ron Hainsey skated and moved the puck like Bobby Orr … or at least like the first-round draft choice he was for Canadiens in 2000. Adam Foote, who’s older than Red Fisher, played 29:24.
Mike Komisarek, on the other hand, played a shade over 14 minutes – his lowest ice time of the season. He and partner Andrei Markov were on for the first two Columbus goals.
Francis Bouillon got the second star, but I thought his partner was better. Josh Gorges played like he wanted to impress his general manager.
Alex Kovalev tried hard and had his moments, as did linemate Andrei Kostitsyn. But the emerging book (and it will become a league bestseller) on defencing Canadiens’ big line is pressure Tomas Plekanec, Pleks is looking very jittery; he’s having problems making quick decisions and accurate passes.
Despite his two penalties, Saku Koivu played another strong game. Sergei K. skated and worked hard, but Christopher Higgins is in a deep funk. Gotta believe the trade speculation is getting to him.
On CKAC last night, Martin Lemay said one of the healthy Canadiens scratches in the pressbox was bellowing "Get off the ice!" at Maxim Lapierre at the end of his late-game shift. Max dawdled long enough to be stripped of the puck by Manny Mulhotra, who calmly potted the third goal.
Mental errors – on the night Canadiens honoured a player who didn’t total 23 mistakes in his career.
I’m starting to think Gainey has to deal. The team played very small last night, and that’s not a good harbinger for the playoffs … if they make it that far.
You don’t think it’s become iffy?
Hey, one bad losing streak …
Canadiens need great goaltending to win. They’re not getting it from either Carey Price or Cristobal Huet.
They need a productive power play. Columbus kept everything to the outside and made the PP look predictable and ineffective. If the Blue Jackets could do that, what will happen when Canadiens play New Jersey?
I was as pumped as anyone by that magical, mystical, mythical comeback against the Rangers. Emotional and prone to the same excesses as my fellow Montréalais and Montréalaises, I called the Canadiens a team of destiny.
Five days later I’m asking: Destined for what?
We smell something in Montreal – and it isn’t the Cup.