Over the last couple of weeks Canadian fans were treated to watching perhaps the most dominant puck possession team ever assembled. Mike Babcock's coaching scheme kept opponents of Team Canada to just 129 shots in six games, while the multifaceted and deep offense fired 241.
The Montreal Canadiens, who do ceremony better than anyone, brought out members of the Canadian women's hockey team, along with members of both the Canadiens and Red Wings who contributed to the Canadian men's hockey team, saluted them, and had the crowd sing the national anthem louder than I've ever heard it at the Bell Centre.
The loudest ovations for the Olympians were reserved for Carey Price, and Marie-Philip Poulin. Poulin who, at 22, already has two Olympic gold medal winning goals, and four goals in gold medal games, seemed a little surprised at the resonance she generated. It was a beautiful moment.
At the drop of the puck, it seemed like the Habs were inspired by how into it the crowd was, and held the Red Wings without a shot attempt for about five minutes, and had the decided edge in control of the play, but that was the end of the positivity for Montreal.
For the rest of the game, the Red Wings absolutely crushed the Canadiens at even strength. By the end of the second period, Montreal had just 26.9% of the total Fenwick attempts while 5-on-5.
There are going to be excuses given for the Habs' lacklustre performance, but none of them hold water. "The Olympians were tired", Detroit's looked fine, and they're older, and have more of them. "The penalties against P.K. Subban were bogus", yes, they both were, yet Montreal had 3.8 minutes of powerplay time to Detroit's 0.8, so who cares?
With the clock running down in the third period, and Detroit desperately defending, the Habs finally began to exert some pressure, and put five shots on Jimmy Howard on one shift before Brian Gionta's backhand beat him, tying the game at 1-1.
It was a lucky break for a team that had generated all of eight shots through the first two periods. Four of those eight shots through 40 minutes were from the stick of Brian Gionta, one of the only players to show some jump during the game.
It was so bad that the crowd finally got on them in the second period. It took longer than usual because they were clearly hesitant to boo the team after the amazing ovation to begin the game. There was energy in that building, but the Canadiens couldn't use it, couldn't capitalize on it.
When Gustav Nyquist beat Peter Budaj in overtime, you couldn't help but feel like that was the deserved result anyway, even though Budaj gave them a chance to earn a better fate.
Michel Therrien commented after the game that "We put ourselves in position to get a point", continuing the delusion that being outplayed to the point where you look like a lottery team yet getting a point by pure dumb luck is somehow a brilliant strategy. Therrien may as well have walked up to the mic and said, "We were always at war with East Asia."
So it's back to reality, as we watch a very talented roster with the potential to be a contender continually be undermined by a coach who doesn't know what he's doing. I guess the thought that everything would magically fix itself during the Olympic break was never realistic.