I don't think I've ever been so frustrated in my life. Losing sucks. It just does. Nine of 10. Five in a row. You want to throw something. You want something to be shook up. You want change. But at the same time, you can't really be upset.
Turns out, the Montreal Canadiens can't even do a losing streak properly. For the umpteenth time during this miserable stretch, they can't buy a goal as they fell 2-1 to the Minnesota Wild in their last game before the Christmas break. They lose a game they deserved a better fate in. Mike Condon played well. No blaming the goaltenders this time.
Don't get me wrong, the Canadiens didn't dominate tonight. But they played well enough to win.
Image Credit: HockeyStats.ca
It was another inauspicious start for the Canadiens as Jason Pominville put the Wild ahead 1-0. Alexei Emelin had a turnover and he and Jarred Tinordi couldn't recover in time as Pominville took a pass from Mikael Granlund and put the puck past Mike Condon.
The Canadiens caught a break at the end of the first period. The Wild seemed to score to go up 2-0 but the referee ruled the puck did not cross the goalline and that ruling was upheld after a lengthy video review.
Charlie Coyle would have a tremendous individual effort to put the Wild up 2-0 for real. He danced around Nathan Beaulieu and still managed to put the puck in the top corner over Condon. No blame should be doled out for that one. It was just a great play by an NHL player.
A second review in the third period could have put the Wild up 3-0 but no conclusive video evidence existed to overturn the call on the ice. It was practically a carbon copy of the first goal, perhaps even more evidence that Condon had made the save.
Daniel Carr put the Habs within one with a great individual effort after some cycling by Alex Galchenyuk and Lars Eller. Carr slid a backhand under a sprawling Kuemper to give the team life.
A frantic final minute would have some scoring chances. Some of the most life and desperation the Habs showed in a while. But it was all for naught.
There are a lot of reasons the Canadiens are losing. They are scoring at a horrible pace. The team is getting chances, they are getting shots, but they aren't beating goaltenders. And on the other side, they aren't getting that shut down game from their own goaltenders.
Condon was very good tonight. It's a start. But the team needs to start scoring to take some pressure of its goaltenders as well.
It's hard to pinpoint a reason for the drought, but it gets frustrating when skilled players are pushed to the side. When Dale Weise is on the ice in the game's final minute, it's a coaching issue. When Sven Andrighetto, who is 2nd on the team in goals since Brendan Gallagher's injury, sits out three straight games it's an issue.
Michel Therrien has done a lot of things right this season. He has the team playing a more effective style in the long run. But his insistence to put his best goal scorer with two bottom-six forwards and to play those players above Alex Galchenyuk, Lars Eller and Carr is crazy.
This isn't trying to protect a lead. You're needing to score goals. I'm not putting this stretch on Therrien. At all. But at some point, you need to put your players in the best position to succeed and he's just not doing that.
But, having said that, they are still getting chances. So what he's putting together is working. But sometimes you need a play like Coyle made tonight and - love him or hate him - Weise is not that guy. Bad luck gets a lot of coaches fired, and I don't think we're anywhere near that yet. But it's because losing games takes a toll on everyone, even the coach and the even-keeled GM. Luckily Marc Bergevin is much more patient than I.
I really liked Jarred Tinordi's game again tonight. I don't want to hear about his plus/minus. Being on the ice for a goal against doesn't mean the goal was your fault. For a guy who has not been playing hockey, he looks like an improved player. With Tom Gilbert out along with Jeff Petry, he might actually get a few games without looking over his shoulder. I'll also say this: it would be a mistake to trade him for a draft pick.
If you want to trade him to fix the offence, fine. But don't just give up on him. He will be really good. He already is quite good.
All in all, it's another frustrating game. But I'm not angry. I want to be angry. I want to see wholesale changes. But in reality, there doesn't need to be. This team can be tweaked into being the team from the first month of the season. Save for a few games, they are outplaying their opponent.
There is light at the end of the tunnel.