Sagging. The adjective comes up in the lead of Bill Beacon’s Canadian Press story on the super depressing Habs Caps match-up Saturday night. Pretty good word to describe the Canadiens no?
I could think of a few more choice words but none could be published in a family-friendly blog like this. To be polite, you could pull out words like ‘pathetic’, ‘listless’, ‘comatose’, ‘sad-sackish’.
Well you get the idea. It hasn’t been pretty since Montreal clinched that playoff spot by winning in Buffalo less than two weeks ago. Montreal has lost four of its five games since then and those losses have (almost) all been blow-outs. Shall I refresh your memory? The Leafs creamed Les Boys 5-1, the Flyers humiliated The Good Guys 7-3, and Saturday night the Capitals rubbed the Habs’ faces in it with an easy 5-1 romp. One loss, the Pens 6-4 victory, doesn’t look so bad on paper, but when you recall that Markov scored with seconds left, you realize Montreal was never close to winning that one.
The one win in this shameful sequence was Thursday’s 3-2 “win” over Tampa Bay, one of the worst teams in the East, a win that came courtesy of a desperation goal from Brian Gionta in the last minute following the blowing of a 2-0 lead that felt oh-so-much like a replay of a game from last year’s psychotic Habs season.
Short version? This is not good.
So what’s going on? It’s downright mysterious. You have a team that looked good almost every night all season and now they look god-awful most nights. Okay I get the idea that once they clinched the playoff berth, the wind went out of their sails.
But why did the wheels come right off the bus? Was the entire team being held together by the hitting of Alexei Emelin?
There is one scary theory. Remember when the team was flying high, folks were scratching their heads trying to figure out why the last-place losers from last year were fighting for first in the East with the Cup-worthy Penguins. At that time, many of us said this proved that last year’s team clearly wasn’t as bad as we all thought. That there was a good team in there smothered by the wack-job management in place at the time.
Well it’s tempting to say today that maybe the 2013 Habs aren’t as good as they looked prior that playoff-clinching Sabres game. Maybe they were simply playing way above their actual skill level and that this run simply wasn’t going to last. It does remind me a bit of another unlikely Habs run, that one in the spring of 2010.
They beat the first-place Capitals in the first round, upset the Cup champ Pens in the second, and then went on to collapse like a Dollar Store house of cards in the third series against a not even very good Flyers team, failing to score even one single goal in three of the losses in that series. They just fell apart. They had been running on adrenalin (and Jaro Halak’s heroics).
So is that what’s happening now? Was the first 40 games of the season an illusion? A slight of hand? To quote St. Bob Dylan, are all those games “an illusion to me now”, as The Bobster sang in Tangled Up in Blue.
I’m not really buying into this kill-me-now argument but if not that, what? You explain to me what the eff is happening here. The only thing I know for sure is that it confirms what I’ve always said about the Habs. This team doesn’t do boring. When they’re good, they’re totally amazing, winning Cup after Cup and spending whole seasons almost not losing games. If not that, they’re horribly bad.
Now can I get back that totally amazing team?