Really. Here are the Canadiens mired in their worst slump in 15 years. They’ve lost five in a row, they’re 1-9-0 in their last ten, and they can’t buy a goal if their lives depended on it.
And all the fans can keep repeating is – don’t worry, it’s just because Carey Price is sidelined, once the What-Me-Worry-Kid is back, we’ll be fine. I was sitting on the bench of our pick-up hockey game the other day and a guy was telling me how it was all about how Mike Condon simply wasn’t good enough.
Now I agree that Condo isn’t Price – and Tokarski is mostly just terrible – but the reality is that you don’t win many games in this league scoring one goal a game. Pat Hickey points out this morning that Les Boys have only 19 goals in their last 12 games, an average of 1.58 goals per game. Even worse, during that run, Alex Galchenyuk, Paul Byron and Daniel Carr lead the team with three goals each. (An aside: Montreal’s biggest problem in the last playoffs was they couldn’t score goals.)
That, my friend, is simply unacceptable. In other words, the leaders are doing nothing. Max Pacioretty, Tomas Plekanec, P.K. Subban, and David Desharnais are not scoring and if your big guys are not scoring, you’re not winning games. So in fact, the losing streak has nothing to do with Price’s absence. (Another aside: Patch and Plek went into hiding in the last playoffs as well.)
So what’s going on? That’s where the pundits are notably silent. What’s wrong with the team? Cos there is something very rotten here. Has the coach lost the room? People scoff at that one and maybe it’s not true. Fact is we just don’t know what’s going on in that dressing room. I’ve never been a Therrien fan. I’ve always believed he’s the kind of coach who can only bring you so far and there is a sense that he’s hit his past-due-date with his monosyllabic angry old-school approach.
But okay, let’s say it’s not the kindly ol’ coach. Then you explain why when the going got tough, the over-paid team “leaders” went into hiding. If you’re in a scoring drought, your top scorer should step up but as has always been the case in Patch’s career, he has not come through in the clutch. Subban has usually been the clutch guy but you can’t really expect a D-man to solve your scoring issues.
Of course losing Brendan Gallagher is a huge factor and the good news is he’ll be back any day now. But it’s just not normal that the entire team falls apart when one winger goes down, especially given that Gallagher – much as I love the guy – is not a superstar.
Fact is that Gallagher’s absence just underlines that Montreal’s forward lines are built on one shaky foundation. They don’t have a real number-one line. Plek is not a number-one centre but hey why should that surprise us. The Canadiens have spent two decades without a bona fide No. 1 centreman, just part of the strange world of the modern-day Habs.
Again the rose-coloured-glasses crew continue to say everything’s hunky-dory but it’s time for a wake-up call. The Canadiens are now fourth in the conference with 43 points. The Devils are ninth with 39 points. Your math might not be great but think for a second. A couple more losses and we’ll switch places with New Jersey.
So yeah things are mighty dire. Me, personally I think it’s partly the coach and partly the lack of character in the leadership group. And the reality is that they are not going to fire Therrien while Price is injured so he’s likely gonna be sticking around for the rest of the season.
So maybe it’s time for Captain Max to step up. Just a thought. Oh and I’m taking my nickname for Price and will now use it for the team’s fans. They’re the What-Me-Worry crew.
- Brendan Kelly