The Montreal Canadiens did not win against the Vancouver Canucks on Wednesday night, and it was a game somewhat similar to their first game of the season against the Toronto Maple Leafs one week prior.
In both of those games, the team was not at their best, mainly due to discipline and power play goals against. However, both of those games also showed something we started to see more of in the bubble last summer: resilience.
Far too often the Canadiens would be out of a game as soon as they lost momentum. Last season, they were 10-20-3 when allowing the first goal. It seemed like if they were behind, they would struggle to bounce back. The difference in the bubble is when they lost a lead, or fell behind, they didn’t crumble.
One game that sticks out in particular was Game 5 of the Philadelphia Flyers series. After Jesperi Kotkaniemi’s game misconduct, the Canadiens allowed the Flyers to take the lead 2-1. Montreal responded to take a 3-2 lead, and even though the Flyers tied it again, Montreal continued to fight back to re-take the lead.
It was reminiscent of both the Toronto and Vancouver games. Montreal was not at their best in either game, but never allowed the game to get away from them. They kept pushing and trusted their game. Their style didn’t get panicky nor did it falter. The fought back at several points, even when it looked like they lost all momentum and that’s a positive.
Games are going to be close this season, and the standings perhaps even closer. Every point will matter for the Canadiens. The game against Vancouver wasn’t one they particularly deserved to win, but they still managed to get a point anyway. The fact that falling behind or losing control of leads isn’t necessarily a sign of things to come is a positive sign.
In a shortened season with no pre-season, teams will take a while to find their groove. Teams won’t earn a playoff spot with a quick start, but they can make life harder on themselves with a bad one.
Ideally, the Canadiens would limit their bad games, not take as many penalties, and coast to the finish line. But good teams manage to stay in games when they’re not at their best.
The Canadiens are on their way to becoming just that.