After losing their fourth straight game Thursday night in Detroit, Canadiens coach Michel Therrien decided to give his players the day off on Friday, cancelling a scheduled practice in Brossard.
Not surprisingly, that decision upset some Canadiens fans who thought a bag skate was more in order than a day off for the players following a 3-2 loss to the Red Wings, in which the Habs blew a third-period lead for the second straight night after losing 3-2 to the Boston Bruins on Wednesday at the Bell Centre.
Tweeted one fan about the day off: “Is that so they can go find their missing jam?”
“Jam” is one of Therrien’s favourite words to describe what he wants his players to bring to the rink.
— Pete Anderson (@pete_m_anderson) December 11, 2015
I was hoping for a bag skate and a few punches thrown 😉 https://t.co/kwmDZBKJNK
— Gary Whittaker (@thefranchiseca) December 11, 2015
Wait, what? https://t.co/hdJXLkeMCm
— Ashley (@alour) December 11, 2015
Rest is a weapon during an 82-game National Hockey League season, so a day off as the Canadiens get set to play their third game in four nights Saturday at the Bell Centre against the Ottawa Senators was the right call by Therrien and I’m sure the players appreciated it.
Maybe they’ll find their jam.
For any team to win in any pro sport it needs its best players to be the best. That’s even more true when a team is dealing with injuries, and it hasn’t been happening with the Canadiens.
And I’m starting to wonder if Brendan Gallagher might just be the Canadiens’ best player.
The Canadiens went 5-2-2 when goalie Carey Price was sidelined for the first time this season with a lower-body injury. The Habs proved they could win without their star goalie.
But since Gallagher fractured two fingers on his left hand blocking a shot during a 4-2 win over the New York Islanders on Nov. 22, the Canadiens have gone 3-4-1 without him. During their current four-game losing streak, the Canadiens have scored a total of seven goals and have gone 0-for-12 on the power play.
Daniel Carr looked like he was trying to fill Gallagher’s skates against the Red Wings by crashing into the blue paint, but the kid was playing in only his third NHL game. Carr already has a goal and an assist, but there’s only so much you can expect from a raw rookie who was never selected at the NHL draft.
Meanwhile, captain Max Pacioretty hasn’t scored a goal in four games and has only two in his last eight. He’s also minus-7 in his last six games after being among the league leaders in that statistic earlier in the season. You have to wonder if the serious off-season leg injury Pacioretty suffered might be slowing him down.
Tomas Plekanec has gone 14 games without scoring a goal.
David Desharnais hasn’t scored in the last eight games and has only one assist during that time.
Alex Galchenyuk has gone five games without a goal and is minus-3 in the last two games after being promoted to No. 1 centre beside Pacioretty on left wing.
Dale Weise — who was living up to his old “Dutch Gretzky” nickname earlier in the season — has now gone 10 games without a goal and remains stuck at nine for the season, one below his career high.
P.K. Subban has gone 21 games without scoring a goal, but he does have 20 assists and is a team-leading plus-11 while logging a ton of ice time. Still, for $9 million a season the Canadiens are expecting Subban to put a few more pucks in the net.
Sven Andrighetto scored against Detroit — his fourth goal in nine games since being called up from the AHL’s St. John’s IceCaps — but was surprisingly limited to 8:45 of ice time by Therrien. The only Hab with less ice time was Charles Hudon, who logged 8:14 while making his NHL debut and picked up an assist on Andrighetto’s goal.
Pacioretty and Plekanec were on a roll when they were on the No. 1 line with Gallagher on the right side early in the season. But they’ve done little since Gallagher was hurt.
Gallagher seemed to be the one player Therrien could put on any line that was struggling and the 5-foot-9, 184-pounder would give that line a spark.
Now with Gallagher out of the lineup, Therrien has been looking for someone else to provide that spark. He hasn’t had much luck.
Maybe Gallagher really is the best player on the Canadiens.
He’s the one carrying the “jam”.
(Photo by John Mahoney/Montreal Gazette)