As the Canadiens carry the weight of a 2-game losing streak that feels like much more than just 2 games into Calgary tonight, it might be a good time for Habs fans to stop, breathe and look around the league.
From their vantage point at the top of the standings, the Canadiens seem positioned to either come back down to earth in a very painful fall or to tighten up on a playing style that has seen them excel well beyond the expectations any Habs fan could have had over the summer.
While teams like Tampa Bay and Anaheim struggle to score 5 on 5 goals, the Habs have been able to net 30 5 on 5 goals in 11 games, while also quietly rising in the powerplay standings, now with 9 PPG and ranked 10th in the league with a 23.1% powerplay efficiency.
The story of the Montreal Canadiens 11 games into the season is a contrast of a matter of days. One week ago, the Habs were 7-0 and about to play back-to-back games in Buffalo and then against the Leafs the next night in Montreal. The prospect of ending the weekend 9-0 seemed too good to be true. By the weekend's end, all Habs fans were talking about was the team's "perfect record" (despite being outplayed in those two games, which also got a lot of attention as a forewarning heading into this week's road trip).
Fast forward five days later, and it would appear the Canadiens have regressed to the team they were last season, which was good enough to finish 1st in the Atlantic Division, but not good enough to go as far as this team's talent could take them in the post-season. Bad habits have started to reappear both on the ice and behind the bench, as the Habs sat on a 3-0 lead last night in Edmonton only to have it slip away.
The Flames are a team off to a disappointing start this year, at 2-7-1, and currently in the midst of a 3-game losing streak.
The Habs will want to play a full 60 minute game tonight, something they didn't do last night and take advantage of an opponent that is still trying to get on the winning track. If the Canadiens are unable to grab the win tonight, the western road trip that is feared every year will have conquered them again, and even though this team is quite a number of games above .500 at the moment, no setback should be taken lightly.
It appears Alex Semin will be out again tonight, with the only change coming in between the pipes as Mike Condon will get his third start of the season. The decision to keep Semin out of the lineup will at least allow former Flame, Paul Byron, to play against his former team.
The puck drops at 9:00PM EDT.
How To Watch:
In the Canadiens' region (French): RDS
In the Canadiens' region (English): CITY M
In the Flames' region (English): Sportsnet Flames (SNF)
Elsewhere: NHL GameCenter, NHL Center Ice
|Max Pacioretty||Tomas Plekanec||Brendan Gallagher|
|Lars Eller||Alex Galchenyuk||Brian Flynn|
|Tomas Fleischmann||David Desharnais||Dale Weise|
|Paul Byron||Torrey Mitchell||Devante Smith-Pelly|
|Andrei Markov||P.K. Subban|
|Alexei Emelin||Jeff Petry|
|Nathan Beaulieu||Tom Gilbert|
Scratched: Greg Pateryn, Jarred Tinordi, Alexander Semin
Injuries: Michael Bournival (post-concussion syndrome)
|Joe Colborne||Sean Monahan||Jiri Hudler|
|Johnny Gaudreau||Sam Bennett||Michael Frolik|
|Mason Raymond||Mikael Backlund||David Jones|
|Derek Grant||Matt Stajan||Josh Jooris|
|Mark Giordano||TJ Brodie|
|Kris Russell||Dennis Wideman|
|Deryk Engelland||Dougie Hamilton|
Scratched: Derek Grant, Jakub Nakladal, Ladislav Smid
Injuries: Lance Bouma (leg), Michael Ferland (lower body)
Check out the enemy over at Matchstick and Gasoline.