Another day, another Montreal Canadiens overtime loss. It has become commonplace for this team to force their way into extra time, only to fall in short order once they’ve arrived there. As concerning as the overtime woes are, there is one factor of worry that perhaps eclipses those woes and needs to be discussed.
Shea Weber’s decline has either arrived rapidly, or there is something more going on that we don’t currently know about.
The evidence from last night is clear. Take a look at the sequence leading into Adam Gaudette’s goal; Weber steps up into the neutral zone and leaves Joel Edmundson alone to defend a two-on-one.
Stepping up is fine when done properly, but doing it at your own blue line when your team has all three forwards closer to the red line than your zone is inadvisable. True though it may be that a best case scenario here is an odd-man rush for the Habs, the worst case scenario is precisely what happened.
The team had a one goal lead at this point, and Weber has enough experience to know that was a bad spot to try what he tried. You could certainly forgive a play like that in a scenario where the team was already down a few goals and struggling to create something, but it’s hard to overlook when it was what allowed the Vancouver Canucks back into the game.
There were points in the game when he had the opportunity to step up in a similar fashion at the offensive blue line — and should have — but he backed off instead. Perhaps that was borne of fear from his earlier mistake, but the point is that his overall decision making has been suspect. Add in that he clearly seems to have lost a step, and you have a significant problem on the Habs’ top pair.
And that lost step is a significant concern. He no longer appears to have his ability to clear the front of the net as he used to. With his absence of agility, opposing forwards are able to maneuver around him and get to loose pucks or provide screens for their teammates.
This isn’t at all the same player we saw in the bubble for last season’s playoffs. I wonder if there is a lingering injury that he’s electing to play through that is causing some of these issues on the ice. If that is the case, he needs to show some of his famed leadership and remove himself from the equation until he can heal up.
The Habs are basically treading water at this point. If this is but a lingering injury, the captain needs to do the captain thing and sideline himself. If this is instead the onset of rapid decline, it’s a much greater conundrum for the organization.