First of all, I apologize. It’s been three weeks since my last post, and, well, lots has happened in the last three weeks and I should be writing more regularly.
The Canadiens started this latest sequence on a losing note but quickly leapt into a five-game winning streak after Carey Price returned from injury. Carey Price was back to his old self. He was consistent, he was making big saves, and he was giving his team the chance to win every single night.
The team responded accordingly. Over the course of the five-game winning streak, the team scored a grand total of 24 goals, including 10 in that game against Detroit, though things have gone sour in the past week. The Habs had a good outing against the Blues, but ultimately fell short in a game they could have won. Against the Flames, they were leading and were pretty much on top of things… until things unravelled when the refs allowed a goal that perhaps should not have counted. Demoralized after two questionable losses, the Habs folded it in a mere few hours ago at home against the Edmonton Oilers, dropping the game 6-2 and seeing Carey Price getting chased…
A few things to talk about here.
First off, Carey Price. For better or for worse, he has been the story of the past few weeks. First, it was his injury. Then, it was his heroic comeback, and now we need to ask ourselves what is with his poor week. He played well against St. Louis and Calgary, but wasn’t as dominant as he was the week before. Edmonton was a debacle, which we saw as of the second goal of the game. Here’s to hoping this five-day break serves him well and he can come back to form on Thursday.
Next, we have the streakiness. This is not the first time this season that we see the Canadiens embark on a losing streak after losing a couple of close games. This team’s confidence is so fragile and frail that when bounces don’t go their way they just seem to collapse. Had they, for example, won that game on Thursday against Calgary, which they should have done, by the way, then I believe they would have come into tonight’s game against the Oilers with a lot more energy, but alas, it was not to be.
The team has shown what it is capable of. The win streak should, by no means, be diminished. Overall, this season, it seems as though the key has been to score goals in rapid succession, or have that same fate befall you. The Canadiens were the victim of this “two-quick-goals” fate at the beginning of the season, and when they were winning games they were the one inflicting this same poison on their opponents. As a reference point, take a look at every single victory over the course of that win-streak. Particularly in the tight games, the Canadiens were able to overcome adversity and propel themselves to victory by scoring two goals in rapid succession, like during the game vs. Ottawa, vs. Columbus and when they were down 2-1 in Detroit. This past week, both the Blues and the Oilers have iced the Canadiens this way. It’s rare we see a season go like this, where this underlying reality seems to just follow a team around.
Another factor that I’ve noticed: the frequency of games. Whenever the Canadiens have a charged schedule, for some reason they elevate their game. Their win streak came over the course of eight days, during which they won those five games. As soon as their schedule eased up, AKA this week, their performance was less consistent and started to falter. Take a look at this: even earlier in the season, when they went to Winnipeg and Chicago on back-to-back nights, the Canadiens won both those games as well. I’m not saying this is a favourable schedule, to be playing two of the league’s best in their own buildings on back-to-back nights, but the Canadiens have been able to overcome it.
Alternatively, you can look at this as the amount of motivation needed. While winning games, the Habs were beating direct divisional rivals for a spot in the playoffs. The three games they’ve just lost were against western rivals with no direct playoff implications…
In terms of the schedule though, if indeed I am correct and they play better when they have it a little bit more packed up, then this upcoming seven-game road trip should serve them well. In fact, I believe this road trip will yield a lot more success than these homestands have been yielding, but we’ll see, that’s just my prediction.
At the end of the day, however, when we glance at the standings, we can see that the battle is over that elusive third position in the Atlantic Division. I believe that the Canadiens have the capability to attain that position, and frankly, I certainly hope they manage it.
Go Habs Go! – Daniele