You lose games in hockey. That’s the nature of the sport. You win and you lose, simple as that. All the Montreal Canadiens have done for a week now is lose, and the team itself hasn’t looked much better than its record over the course of it all. Since Jonathan Drouin’s injury, the team has spiraled in a bad way, and the bleeding has to stop somewhere.
The Canadiens went up 4-0 and looked headed for as comfortable a win as they enjoyed last Friday against Washington. Then they got complacent, and were dead in the water when the New York Rangers turned the pressure up.
The Habs couldn’t seem to find another gear against even Columbus or Ottawa in those earlier losses, and it cost them five points in the end. It’s one thing to pile up shots and dominate the shot metrics, but it’s another to do so from areas on the ice that are threatening.
Five goals or not, the team did not look ready to battle the minute the Rangers clawed back into the game, and it was the same issue in Ottawa earlier in the week. The team held control (in possession on Thursday and at least on scoreboard last night), but never fully put their foot down, let a team climb back into the game, and then had small errors blow up in their face.
The past four games should have provided a breather for the Drouin-less Canadiens, and instead they played like a club that was clearly missing their offensive spark. There’s still seven weeks to go in his recovery, and for a team that should be contending for a playoff spot they’ll have to figure this out immediately.
There is no one move to instantly fix the mess that was this week, and panicking isn’t going to help things either. Trading assets randomly for a quick fix rarely comes up with the solution. This team has responded to adversity before, and an early-season slump will be forgotten if they’re able to get things turned around, but that’s going to take some hard work on the part of everyone involved.