Time to push the Panic Button?
Fire Michel Therrien?
Fire Marc Bergevin?
Trade half the roster?
Tank for a high draft pick?
Send Carey Price to Lourdes?
None of the above, peeps.
At least, not yet.
It will be a grim Monday morning in Montreal after the Canadiens’ lost weekend.
On sports phone-in shows, the lines will be blazing with the aforementioned Draconian suggestions … and more.
Fans should be enraged.
Since the beginning of December, your Montreal Canadiens have been sinking faster than (insert nautical metaphor).
The Canadiens are clinging to the Eastern Conference’s second wild-card playoff berth. They are one point ahead of Pittsburgh, which has two games in hand.
Not far back are New Jersey, Ottawa, Carolina and Philadelphia.
The Canadiens have won four of their last 20 games. The last time things were this bad in Montreal hockey, Hitler was on the march in Europe.
The 1939-’40 Canadiens opened their season with an 8-2 win over Chicago and went on to four Ws in their first five games. On Dec. 7, they beat Toronto 4-1 and were first in the seven-team NHL.
Then the roof fell in. The Canadiens went 1-11, including nine straight losses. The beginning of 1940 brought losing streaks of four, five and six games en route to a 10-33-5 record and last place.
Times have changed.
No one is about to invade Belgium. And the Canadiens’ season has not swirled down the porcelain bowl … yet.
But the indicators are not good.
With the exception of Max Pacioretty, who scored his 19th goal of the season to cut the Hawks’ lead to 3-2 with 9:30 to play, none of the Canadiens forwards is scoring with any consistency.
The D corps, which used to be a team strength, is in tatters.
Andrei Markov’s gaffe in OT cost the Canadiens Saturday’s game in St. Louis. After playing 26 minutes against the Blues, Markov was cut back to 17:42 – 13:28 at even strength – against the Hawks.
Remember when Nathan Beaulieu seemed on track to becoming a future Canadiens’ star on the blueline?
Beaulieu’s error on the Patrick Kane goal that snuffed out any hope of a Canadiens’ comeback was inexplicably bad. What could he possibly have been thinking, abandoning coverage of the NHL’s leading sniper to make a pointless foray into the corner?
“This is not Pee-Wee hockey,” Guy Carbonneau said on L’Antichambre after the game. “These are the best players in the world. Game after game, we see mistakes.”
Played on ice with a rubber disc that takes unpredictable bounces, hockey is a game of mistakes. Even the mighty Hawks weren’t perfect Sunday night.
The Canadiens’ margin of error, however, has become razor-thin.
With goaltenders not named Carey Price, mistakes in the Canadiens’ zone end up in the back of the net with dismaying frequency.
Mistakes on the attack (when the Canadiens manage to mount one) become turnovers, with opposing teams whirling away in transition.
Even heretofore steady veterans are prone to SNAFUs. Torrey Mitchell had two penalties against Chicago, plus a turnover on the PK.
Alex Galchenyuk, who has showed recent signs of finally reaching his huge potential, was a team-worst minus-3 against the Hawks.
Lars Eller was the best Canadiens forward in Chicago. And with all due respect to the Not-So-Great Dane, Eller is not about to put this team on his shoulders and carry it out of their doldrums.
Have the Canadiens quit on their coach?
It didn’t look like they had Saturday night in St. Louis, nor last Thursday against Chicago at the Bell Centre.
Maybe, in the absence of Carey Price – whose Hart Trophy MVP credentials have been burnished to a bright shine during his absence – this team simply isn’t good enough.
I’ll leave that debating point to the Commentariat … and to those radio fire-breathers.
Pittsburgh is in St. Louis Monday night, while Ottawa visits San Jose.
A win by either knocks the Canadiens out of a playoff position.
Boston visits the Bell Centre Tuesday night. Then the Canadiens are at the ACC on Saturday.
I don’t foresee dramatic off-ice changes at the beginning of the week.
But if the Canadiens lose to the Bruins and Toronto … well, this could be too 1940ish for Geoff Molson to tolerate.
• • •
Comment from slapshot777:
MB is running out of options. MT may be his best buddy but wasn’t Carbonneau the best buddy of Gainey.
Bob had the balls to can Carbonneau. Guy still hasn’t come out with the reason why. I don’t believe their was one, Carbonneau was just trying to make Bob look bad with his French media buddies.
If Carbonneau was a good coach why hasn’t he been hired by anybody either as a had coach or assistant.
MB should have been already talking to other coaches by now. He has to have a plan. That magic eight ball he uses has to be broken. He needs to go to the Ouija board.
Get in a couple of exorcists and sharman. Get them to sprinkle ashes and holy water all around the Bell Centre and the coaches room as well as the dressing rooms.
• • •
Habs fans need a laugh, and Monday’s NY Daily News delivers: