For our new readers and members, the Top Six Minutes is a continuation of the discussion in the game thread. We try to keep it light and entertaining. Full recaps are up the morning after every game.
The Montreal Canadiens find themselves facing off against their own futility again, this time on the road in Minnesota. Anybody who's been watching the games recently knows precisely how this is going to go: the Habs will come out strong, firing countless pucks on the net, only to be undone by an early goal against. The team will have trouble finding their stride after being set back early, and will eventually concede a few late goals to completely give the game away.
But what if tonight is different? What if this time, the bounces go Montreal's way, the puck goes in, the goalies are strong and the team is finally able to find its rhythm?
Well, that would be pretty good.
- The Minnesota Wild think that they are the Minnesota North Stars, a legacy that I think we can agree belongs to Dallas. It's always funny to me to see teams desperate to manufacture a storied history go up against a team like the Habs. It's usually obvious when Montreal plays Ottawa, so this is a refreshing change. Jealous bunch.
- Montreal goaltending in the last four games: 0-4-0, 4.25GAA, .798SV%. Nobody is blaming these losses entirely on the goalies, but those numbers are telling. They can be better. They have to be.
- The other obvious problem is scoring. Galchenyuk looked strong last night in spite of limited ice time, and on the Habs' only goal he fired the kind of shot that is either going past you or through you. The Habs are getting the shots they need, but there's a difference between shooting and shooting to score; they need to get angry and rifle them like Galchenyuk did last night.
- We'll pick things up midway through the first, with lots of back and forth favoring the Habs, but not a lot of noteworthy exchanges to this point.
- Jason Pominville pots one. It's 1-0 Minnesota. That's a poor decision by Alex Emelin to throw the puck through the slot and the team pays for it dearly. Bad luck wears on a team, and with increasing desperation it leads to bad decision making. Of course, that was also Alex Emelin, so maybe I'm just filling column inches.
- That's a lot of games in a row that the Habs have started the game from behind. Five, in fact. The last four have been losses. Cool.
- Fleischmann in the box. The Minnesota powerplay gets a few good looks Condon turns them away. Those saves are exactly what the team needs several minutes ago. Minnnesota gets a funky bounce with Granlund right in Condon's grill and the puck goes in. We're going upstairs.
- No goal. I can assure you, my bias does not inform my position when I say that's the right call.
- The period ends, and all I can think is how nice it would be if Montreal had a come from behind victory. We're begging for scraps here.
- At which point do we start to worry about the Canadiens? I mean, really worry? The two extreme identities this team has demonstrated so far this season make it virtually impossible to know what to do.
- A lot of fans - of the Canadiens in general, of this site in particular - are advocating for the firing of Therrien. Is that the best thing for the team? I don't think so, at least not given this season's results. How bad does it need to get? And what do you do when it gets that bad?
- When does PK score? Is it soon? Can it be?
- Alex Galchenyuk again showcases his magic hands, but nothing comes of it. His ice time after two periods? Still less than Weise and Desharnais. Interestingly, though, more than Plekanec.
- The Habs ran the period, and there were no results.
- Ideally, the Top Six Minutes are a funny and light look at the game, but it's becoming increasingly difficult for me to approach Habs' games as anything remotely resembling enjoyable. It's frustrating to have the performance, but not the results. Because eventually, the performance is going to sag in the face of so many losses, and that's going to absolutely crush your morale.
- This team needs a shot in the arm. There's been a rotating cast of call ups, but it's clear Sven Andrighetto needs to be back in this lineup. If you need goals, don't rest your goalscorers.
- Minnesota scores again. It's Coyle, with a good rush, cutting past Beaulieu and putting a soft shot past Condon. If you want to talk about needed stops, that's one.
- You can see that goal just deflating the Habs. Last night, the team did well to play out the entire game with a consistent effort level, pushing to close the lead even as the game was further out of reach. Tonight I'm not sure the spirit is there.
- Minnesota pushes for a third goal on a wraparound by Parise. We go upstairs, but for the second time tonight the evidence isn't conclusive, and the score remains 2-0.
- Condon isn't planted on the play, and needs to do a better job of sliding across when he's sure the puck is on the side. I'm just not seeing confident decision making in his play.
- Daniel Carr scores on a nifty backhand! It's 2-1. I really hope this sparks a bit of life in the Habs, who look like they are ready to break out the rum and nog and relax for the holidays.Alex Emelin is struggling. He's making bad decisions with the puck, making weak clearing attempts, and it's only emphasized when the Habs are down a defenseman like tonight. Inexplicably, he has more ice time than Nathan Beaulieu.
- Dale Weise is in the mix in the final minutes of the game.
- The Habs press with the goalie pulled, including a few frantic and frenetic sequences in front of the net following point shots, but again it's a loss. 2-1. Not enough goals. Not enough goaltending.
There's not a team in the NHL that needs the Christmas break more than the Montreal Canadiens. This is a frustrated team that feels like it's bottomed out. Let's hope that's the case, and that things can only go up from here.
EOTP 3 Stars
3. "And they were never heard from ever again."
2. It's a little long, but I like it.
1. It might be time for an intervention.