MONTREAL, QC.– The Montreal Canadiens split their last week, losing both of their road games against the Philadelphia Flyers and Atlanta Thrashers, while winning both of their home games against the Los Angeles Kings and Buffalo Sabres.
The Habs came out relatively strong against the Flyers last Monday, going up 2-0 after just one period, thanks to two garbage goals by Max Lapierre. The team then lost all life and emotion, falling flat on their face and getting dominated by the Flyers for the next two periods. They would go on to lose the game 3-2.
The energy, or emotional drop had to be somewhat expected following the emotional game against the Toronto Maple Leafs two days earlier, with the Pat Burns tribute and all.
The week then teeter tottered on the Habs. They had a very strong showing against the Kings, didn’t show up when they visited the Thrashers, and then played a great team game against the Sabres.
I was a bit astonished to see the number of people this week, especially on twitter reacting on how inconsistent the Habs have been in the last week. Personally, I don’t see this as anything that should have anyone worried.
To begin, it’s only four games of the 82 game season. The Habs are continuing to win at home and this alone should reassure everyone. The Habs are 9-4-1 at home (6-4-0 on the road). Last, it happens. If you go to school or have a job, there are some days where in retrospect, you look back and realize you accomplished nothing in your day. It happens to professional athletes as well. Of course fans can say “It’s okay that they lose, but I just want them to show some effort”, but the reality is that on some nights, the effort just isn’t there to give.
This week, the Habs play three games, first hosting the Edmonton Oilers on Wednesday, then visiting the New Jersey Devils on Thursday (back to back games), and finally play host to the San Jose Sharks in a rare Saturday, 2pm game. (I’m not even sure if the Habs have ever played at 2pm on a Saturday, I’ll gladly accept corrections.)
If the Canadiens had three more points in the standings, they would have as much as both of their next opponents combined. (Edmonton 16, New Jersey 18) The back to back Wednesday/Thursday games are games that you would think the Canadiens should win but they are no easy opponents.
Yes the Edmonton Oilers are struggling with a tonne of rookies in their lineup, but the talent these young players have is not to be taken lightly. Taylor Hall continues to grow and learn in this league, Jordan Eberle – wow. I do believe Taylor Hall will be a great player in this league but as I tweeted earlier this week, in my opinion, the Edmonton Oilers organization should be building this team around Jordan Eberle. He has vision like not many have, it gives him the ability to find players on the ice, he puts the puck on their stick when it looks like there’s no play to be made, he’s clutch, he’s the real deal. I am completely sold on him.
Then we have the New Jersey Devils. Although they are still without Martin Brodeur last time i checked, they continue to be a team with dangerous weapons. With players like Elias, Arnott, Parise, Zajac and of course Kovalchuck, they are not to be taken lightly.
The Habs sometimes have a reputation of not playing so well against the bottom feeders in the standings, so it will be interesting to see how they play these two games. Also, seeing as there are back to back games, will also be interesting to see whether Alex Auld gets a start in a second consecutive week. Personally, I would have Price play all three games.
Finally, the Habs host the Sharks on Saturday at yes, 2pm. Hockey Afternoon in Canada? Since when? I’ll try to wake up for it…
Quick note, my moment of pride for the week was this past Saturday. Prior to the game, a fellow twitterer asked whether she should sit out Brian Gionta or Jason Spezza in her fantasy pool. I told her I had had a vision, and that Brian Gionta would have a three point night. Low and behold, Gionta scored twice and assisted on the other, leading the Habs to a 3-1 victory, getting the first star of the game. I’m sorry to say, I don’t do lotto numbers.
Week at a Glance:
Edmonton Oilers (Wednesday December 1st)
- Match-up: Cross Conference.
- Record: 6-12-4.
- Rank: 15th (last) in the West.
- Streak: 1 win (4-1) against the Ottawa Senators
- Leading scorers: Ryan Whitney (0-18) and Ales Hemsky (6-9).
- Upcoming: Played the Senators this afternoon, don’t play until Wednesday in Montreal.
New Jersey Devils (Thursday December 2nd)
- Match-up: Conference.
- Record: 8-14-2.
- Rank: 14th in the East.
- Streak: 1 win (2-1 SO) win against Philadelphia Flyers
- Leading scorers: Patrik Elias (3-11) and Jason Arnott (8-4).
- Upcoming: Played Saturday against the Philadelphia Flyers (15-6-4) and don’t play until Thursday against the Habs.
San Jose Sharks (Saturday December 4th)
- Match-up: Cross-Conference
- Record: 11-7-4
- Rank: 10th in the West. (Only 1 point separates 2nd and 10th places)
- Streak: 1 win (4-3) against Edmonton Oilers on Saturday
- Leading Scorers: Dany Heatley (11-13) and Joe Thornton (6-16)
- Upcoming: Play host to the Detroit Red Wings (15-4-2) Tuesday, will be visitors in Ottawa against the Senators (11-12-1) on Thursday, prior to visiting the Habs on Saturday.
(Photo by: Jason Franson, edmontonjournal.com)