In the theme song for the television show Friends (the extended cut, not the TV version), there’s a line that says “Your mama warned you there’d be days like these.”
It’s fitting that in Manhattan, where the show took place, the Montreal Canadiens had a day like that.
A lot has been said - even by me - about how this Canadiens team is better. How they have flashes of brilliance. How this is a new era. And I still feel that way. But they are also very early in the turnaround process, and with that comes some growing pains.
Yes, it was their first back-to-back of the season. Yes, they still had a 3-1 lead in the second period. Yes, they held the advantage of shot attempts at 5-on-5. But this was a game they should have won. And it was a game they could have won.
Teams will have these bumps in the road. And it’s frustrating because they show you how good they are. How good they can be.
The Canadiens are 5-2-1 against teams in an Eastern conference playoff spot, or who won the Stanley Cup last year. But they have lost in regulation to the Los Angeles Kings, the Rangers, and in overtime to the Ottawa Senators.
There are a lot of positive signs from the Canadiens so far this season, but people have to be careful not to confuse improved with great. They are still a team that will be on the playoff bubble, maybe for the rest of the season. Those teams tend to lose as much as they win, and those teams tend to have games like on Tuesday night against opponents outside of the playoff picture.
Montreal has allowed the sixth most goals/60 minutes when holding the lead in the league. That’s part of the growing pains. First you learn to take the lead, then you learn to hold on to it.
The thing to keep in mind is that the Canadiens don’t have one of their best defencemen and their captain in the lineup. Their ability to hold on to 3-1 leads will improve as soon as Shea Weber gets back on the ice.
The Canadiens are a good team. But, even good teams have days like this.