Did someone forget to tell the players this was an Optimum game?
Ten of the 41 regular-season games your Montreal Canadiens play at the Bell Centre are classified as Optimum.
That means fans pay a premium for their tickets.
A ticket in the Platinum section, down near ice level, costs $253 for a regular game.
The price rises to $418 for an Optimum game.
Way up in the Greys, at the top of the Bell Centre, tickets for a regular game are $51, rising to $85 for Optimum.
That’s a lot of money – especially to watch a Canadiens team whose effort was less than optimal.
The fans in the “cheap” seats stuck it out until the siren sounded on the Canadiens’ 5-0 loss to Washington.
Down in the lower bowl , Red seats – $338 for Optimum, $205 for a regular game – began to empty halfway through the third period.
In his postgame press conference, Michel Therrien indicated his team would not spend much time studying video of their miserable performance.
“That’s a DVD you throw in the garbage,” the coach said. Every team plays bad games, Therrien added.
“What’s important is how you react to adversity.”
Fans reacted by either deserting the Bell Centre or showering the home team with boos, catcalls and sarcastic applause for shots on goal – of which the Canadiens managed NINE through 40 minutes and 21 on the game.
Do the math: The swells in Platinum seats paid $20 for each shot they saw. It was cheaper in the Greys: $4 a shot … and $13 a beer, but I digress.
What a disgraceful performance by the home team.
I’ll repeat a few stats from the Live Blog post:
The Canadiens didn’t record a shot on Braden Holtby until the game was seven minutes old. They had three in the first period, to 12 for Washington. During the second period, the visitors scored four goals and chased Carey Price to the bench before Daniel Brière recorded the first of six Canadiens’ shots.
Shot totals are an indicator, but they don’t convey the full extent of Washington’s domination. As has been the case with a succession of opponents during the Canadiens’ recent swoon, the Capitals cleared the puck from their end, cruised through the neutral zone, gained the Canadiens’ blueline with ease and tossed the puck around the attacking area like the Harlem Globetrotters on skates, setting up wide-open, high-percentage shots they sent whizzing toward Carey Price.
Pittsburgh inflicted similar carnage en route to a 5-1 win on Wednesday. Detroit, minus Pavel Datsyuk, beat the Canadiens easily on Friday night.
But this was the worst.
Riding a seven-game losing streak into the Bell Centre, Washington embarrassed the Canadiens in front of fans who hadn’t seen their team in 11 days and were paying a premium to watch Alexander Ovechkin’s only regular-season visit to Montreal.
In my game blog, I suggested there were only two possible explanations for how poorly the Canadiens had played.
They are either a very bad hockey team that will vie with Buffalo, Edmonton and Calgary for the top draft choice in June.
Or they’ve quit on Therrien.
At the risk of having a significant proportion of the Commentariat descend on my humble suburban townhouse with torches and pitchforks, I find myself tending toward the first explanation.
In contemplating life after MT, ask youself these questions:
• Would a new coach make Brian Gionta five years younger?
• Would he give Andrei Markov new knees?
• Could he transform Daniel Brière into an adequate even-strength player?
• Would a change behind the bench transform Josh Gorges into a legitimate Top 4 defenceman? Or change Douglas Murray and Francis Bouillon into viable Top 6’s?
• Would the new coach have the surgical skill to make David Desharnais four inches taller? Could he transplant Brendan Gallagher’s heart into Rene Bourque and his gonads onto Max Pacioretty?
Don’t get me wrong.
I’m no fan of Michel Therrien. I think he’s a poor in-game tactician who relies too much on veterans and has done little to speed the development of Lars Eller and Alex Galchenyuk.
At least Nathan Beaulieu is getting a decent shot. But that’s because the D is in such disarray Pavel Valentenko would get a decent shot.
This team is not a Cup contender. But are the Canadiens as bad as they’ve looked … well, pretty much since the November winning streak?
That’s what Marc Bergevin, possibly in consultation with Geoff Molson, will be asking himself on Sunday.
Fearless prediction: Despite rumblings in the city that are reaching a crescendo, I don’t think Therrien is about to be fired.
But if Kirk Muller’s Carolina Hurricanes inflict another home-ice thumping on the Canadiens Tuesday night …
• • •
Let the gallows humour begin:
What floats even when the water beneath is frozen solid?
The Montreal Canadiens.