In the spirit of the season, let’s not dwell on your Montreal Canadiens’ inglorious performance in Nashville.
They had a 3-0 lead.
They blew a 3-0 lead.
Then a brilliant individual effort by perennial HIO whipping boy David Desharnais got the Canadiens two points they didn’t deserve.
And for all their recent suckitude, the team has 47 points and sits comfortably fourth in the Eastern Conference.
Hands up everyone who expected that at the Christmas break.
The Canadiens don’t play again until Dec. 27, when they’ll begin their Florida trip in Tampa.
That gives coach Michel Therrien and his staff plenty of time to work on a few issues.
They’re making a list and checking it twice.
Going to find out who belongs on the ice.
Based on the Nashville game …
SIX forwards managed to play an entire game plus OT without recording a single shot on goal:
• Brandon Prust, who didn’t even have an attempted shot and has kinda sucked for a while now
• Brendan Gallagher, who plays his heart out and goes to the net
• Brian Gionta, who hustles and backchecks
• Alex Galchenyuk, whose play in his own end is starting to worry me
• Travis Moen, whom Therrien subbed on the Tomas Plekanec line late in the game because he doesn’t trust Galchenyuk’s D
• Daniel Brière, who worked hard and wasn’t bad in Nashville
There were also no shots from defencemen Douglas Murray, Alexei Emelin, Raphael Diaz (not even an attempted shot!) and Francis Bouillon, whom Therrien praised as probably his best Dman, forgetting to add “except for P.K. Subban”.
Three players accounted for 15 of the Canadiens’ 23 SoG: P.K. with six, Max Pacioretty with five and Tomas Plekanec with four. May as well add DD’s three and there’s 78 per cent of the shot total from four guys.
What’s that you say?
Shots aren’t everything. There are other ways to contribute.
Like making good decisions with the puck, working the boards, winning puck battles, clearing your zone efficiently and maintaining possession in the other team’s end.
The Canadiens were woefully inept in those aspects of the game in losses to L.A. and St. Louis and during the second period in Nashville
Like the Ghost of Christmas Past, failure to compete in all three zones afflicted the Canadiens through 20 miserable minutes.
Carey Price faced 20 second-period shots and gave up goals to Gabriel Bourque and Nick Spaling.
That’s the worst bombardment since Price faced 21 shots last March 7 in Carolina. He stopped 19 of them – including Eric Staal’s penalty shot. The Canadiens won that game 4-2, despite being outshot 44-28.
That was then, this is now.
And now isn’t too shabby.
Again, the Canadiens occupy a place in the standings few few fans expected when the season began.
They’re up there mainly because of Carey Price and Peter Budaj, P.K. and Andrei Markov (we won’t dwell on the boneheadedness of a misconduct in a 3-3 game).
There’s still a lot of hockey – 44 games – to be played.
For now, let’s all take a break and celebrate Christmas with our families and loved ones.