On Wall Street and Bay Street, they call this a market correction.
When stocks have been trading too high for a while, prices take a tumble back down to something approximating their actual value.
Which is not to suggest your Montreal Canadiens are not much better – and may indeed be worse – than the team that was 10 points behind them in the Eastern Conference standings before the puck dropped.
But the overtime loss was a reminder, to the Canadiens and their fans, that early-season glory notwithstanding, this is not a team good enough to coast against anyone.
Not even the Islanders.
The game should have been done and dusted after 20 minutes. As has often been the case this season, the Canadiens played an excellent first period, outshooting the Islanders 14-3 and getting goals from Travis Mown, of all people, and a hot Max Pacioretty.
But the Islanders hung around, got good goaltending, capitalized on power plays and left Montreal with two points in the bank.
The game was a reminder, if one was needed, that the surprise Eastern Conference leaders are still susceptible to being surprised.
The Commentariat will be all over my ass for being a Negative Ned, but this team is still a work in progress. And there are issues.
• Andrei Markov has lost a step and maybe two. The veteran defenceman doesn’t hit anyone and studiously avoids being hit – caution that is understandable, given Markov’s history of injuries.
Raphael Diaz, Josh Gorges and P.K. Subban all had more ToI than Markov. The pairing of Gorges and Diaz were on the ice for three of the Islanders’ four goals. In the OT, with all that open ice, Gorges had more time than Subban. Go figure.
• Brian Gionta has three goals this season, and they were scored in the opener, game 3 and game 12. Gionta’s 46 shots on goal are second to Tomas Plekanec’s 52. Gionta’s shooting percentage is 6.5 – anemic, but better than Erik Cole’s 5.6.
When the Rangers visit the Bell Centre on Saturday, Brendan Gallagher should be ready to return to the lineup.
Michel Therrien won’t do this because it’s not the way you treat your captain, but I’d be tempted to try Gallagher in Gionta’s spot, with Plekanec and Rene Bourque.
The far greater likelihood is a reunion of the kid line, with Gallagher rejoining Alex Galchenyuk and Brandon Prust.
He took two penalties against the Islanders, but I can’t see Lars Eller getting the Ryan White treatment. But I have no idea where Eller should be playing.
Look, one Shootout loss won’t have Therrien dismantling his lines. But the coach – whose press conference ended abruptly when some media wretch started talking on his cellphone – has some concerns to address.
The power play continues to sputter. And after a run of 11 successful kills, the PK was lit up for Matt Moulson’s two goals – one a tip and the other a wide-open look that you should never give a 30-goal sniper.
And what’s with the Canadiens and third-period leads?
• Third game of the season in Washington, the Canadiens take a 4-0 lead into the third period. They’re outshot 11-2, but Carey Price stops everything except a late goal by Joey Crabb.
• Super Bowl Saturday afternoon, the Canadiens trounce Buffalo … but they’re outshot 18-11 in the third priod.
• In the course of blowing a 4-2 lead and losing in a Shootout in Buffalo, the Canadiens are outshot 10-5 in the third period.
• With a 3-1 lead and 1:43 remaining in Tampa Bay, the Canadiens give up two goals before winning the Shootout.
• In the scoreless snoozer in Florida, the Panthers had a 13-9 shot advantage in the third period.
Against the Islanders, the Canadiens took a 3-2 lead into the final 20 minutes and managed a measly four shots at Evgeni Nabokov in the third period. The Islanders goaltender, who was better than Carey Price Thursday night, stopped them all.
Perhaps it’s the Canadiens’ lack of size – achingly illustrated by the valiant Brandon Prust dropping them with the Islanders’ 6’8″, 250-lb defenceman Joe Finley. A small team may get worn down after 40 minutes. And Team Smurf was playing its fourth game in six nights.
It doesn’t get easier. After the Rangers visit, the Canadiens play 11 of 15 games on the road.
We should know, by the end of March, whether there will be hockey in Montreal come May.