When a quality team such as Montreal - and they are better than this - hit a skid patch as they are on now, it has much more to do with simply facing well tuned opponents. Something is definitely wrong.
The Canadiens have lost three in a row before and have been able to rebound from it. Four straight losses is another matter. In the regular season, this hasn't happened in almost two years. The last time Montreal strung four zeros together, was in last season's playoffs against the Flyers. They actually played better in that series than they are now.
The multitude of things that irritated me in this game are too numerous to mention. I hit Alex Kovalev in the side of his helmet with a remote early in the third. I was so disgusted I shut the game off. The duty of having to write this post got me to turn it back on.
It's complicated, this mess. To be sure, there is all kinds of factors going on, that we are not privelege to, that have brought on this current dysfunction. The evidence that we do not know of, is resulting in the muck and mire we are sadly witness to.
Certain things have been building for some time now. There are many threads in this tangle of a team. Many players are not performing to standard. Several important pieces are up for contract renewal. The powerplay fires and fizzles at random. Young talent is pushing veterans. As losses build, some players try to do too much. Others, aren't doing enough. Players who care and put out, begin to blame and point fingers at those who aren't helping carry the load. Confidence becomes fragile. Frustration extends from coaches trying to get solutions across.
It is not an unheard of viscious circle. It happens to every team, good or bad, at one time or another. Some even find the light at the end of the tunnel if they care enough and work through it.
In the coming days you will hear talk of getting back to basics and playing within their means. Try to accomplish more by doing less. Simplifying plays and focusing on execution. The players and coaches will have a dirty laundry session, where are grievances are aired eye to eye. Private player video viewings will be done to point out mistakes and tendencies. All this and more will be undertaken to set the team on the right path once more.
This will only work if players want it to work badly enough. Ego's will have to be parked for it to happen. Sooner or later, this bunch will realize that the better the group does as a whole, the better each player comes off individually.
Ruts such as this one occurred in 1986 and 1993. It looked just as desperate then. Time will tell if there is a silver lining, but it is a much better thing that the shit hits the fan in game 48 than game 82. What a team can gain and learn from itself in it's worst light, is often the lesson best served when things are going better.
In 1993, the Canadiens lost 11 of their final 18 games. In 1986, Montreal lost 10 of its final 16 games. Both clubs as you know went on to win the Stanley Cup. Neither edition of the Habs then, panicked, and gave in.
Right now, it is not a matter of how long it takes to set things right again, only that they do.