Since the Montreal Canadiens lost their first game of the year to the Vancouver Canucks at the end of October, their record has been 11-14-3. If the Canadiens wanted to experiment with the value of starting a season 9-0-0 to see how long it could carry them, they're about to find out. The Habs are now third in the Atlantic Division; still in a playoff position, but poised to keep falling in the standings as teams they are surrounded by elevate their game.
What can be done? The Habs are playing well, generating shots and chances. They just aren't winning games. According to Michel Therrien and his team, the Habs are in a playoff position right now, which matters most of all. Last week, the story being told was that the wins and goals will come as long as they continue playing the same way. That narrative changed into the "playoff position" point of view, but the Habs could find themselves out of a playoff position by as soon as the end of the week if the losing continues.
The Habs are in Tampa Bay tonight for the first time since they were eliminated from last year's playoffs. The Lightning are mired in their own issues at this point in the season, going from Cup contender to playoff bubble team in a matter of 36 games. Their 18-15-3 record currently has the Lightning placed sixth in the Atlantic Division and ninth in the Eastern Conference.
That said, the Lightning are only four points back of the Canadiens with one less game played. The two teams can easily be in reverse positions next week, with the Canadiens sitting on the outside of the playoff picture. It's very hard to find a way to describe how the Canadiens will turn this around, as they are not indicating any changes to the way they play, and aside from the potential return of Brendan Gallagher, there is very little on the horizon with the potential to spark this team to the level they were at a month ago.
One game at a time - and perhaps the thought of vengeance for last year's playoff elimination is fuel enough for the Habs tonight, who should not be happy about the way things have gone for them of late. A display of raw emotion - something to remind us that these guys hate losing as much as we do - would be a refreshing break from the systematic, robotic display we've seen since the start of this slump.
Some signs of progress in this regard include the scratching of Alexei Emelin and Devante Smith-Pelly who will be replaced by Greg Pateryn and Sven Andrighetto.
The puck drops at 7:30 PM EST.
How To Watch:
In Canada (French): RDS
In Canada (English): Sportsnet East
In the Lightning region: SUN
Elsewhere: NHL GameCenter, NHL Center Ice
|Max Pacioretty||David Desharnais||Dale Weise|
|Lars Eller||Alex Galchenyuk||Daniel Carr|
|Tomas Fleischmann||Tomas Plekanec||Paul Byron|
|Brian Flynn||Torrey Mitchell||Sven Andrighetto|
|Nathan Beaulieu||P.K. Subban|
|Andrei Markov||Jeff Petry|
|Mark Barberio||Greg Pateryn|
Scratched: Devante Smith-Pelly, Alexei Emelin, Jarred Tinordi
Injuries: Carey Price (lower body) Brendan Gallagher (broken fingers), Tom Gilbert (lower body)
|Vladislav Namestnikov||Steven Stamkos||Nikita Kucherov|
|Alex Killorn||Valtteri Filppula||Jonathan Marchessault|
|J.T. Brown||Brian Boyle||Ryan Callahan|
|Mike Blunden||Cedric Paquette||Erik Condra|
|Victor Hedman||Anton Stralman|
|Braydon Coburn||Andrej Sustr|
|Jason Garrison||Nikita Nesterov|
Scratched: Mike Angelidis, Matthew Carle
Injuries: Onrej Palat (undisclosed), Tyler Johnson (undisclosed), Jonathan Drouin (lower body), Joel Vermin (hand surgery)
Check out the enemy over at Raw Charge.