The only consistent part about the Montreal Canadiens this season has been their ability to follow up massive statement wins by going out and laying a giant egg in their next game, almost without fail.
Against the Edmonton Oilers the defence stood tall, grinding out a tough, solid victory on Wednesday night; the kind of game that should lead to a string of wins. Instead, they went out against the Calgary Flames, were lucky to score two goals, and then were utterly dominated for most of a dreadfully boring 60-minute hockey game. It continues to be maddeningly inconsistent, and I truly do not understand who the Montreal Canadiens are anymore.
"I don't think the Flames saw our team play like we can play. So that's what we're going to bring tonight." - Dominique Ducharme on the Canadiens' struggles against Calgary this season.— Arpon Basu (@ArponBasu) April 23, 2021
That quote from Dominique Ducharme rings so utterly hollow after that game that submitting to Old Takes Exposed would feel like cheating at this point. In a game where they were trailing by a goal late and with the goalie pulled, Jon Merrill, Corey Perry and Eric Staal were all on the ice at some point, and for some reason none of them were playing in a spot that played to their strengths.
Every decision feels like throwing stuff at the wall and hoping things stick, and right now none of it is sticking. We see glimpses of how good this team can be. Josh Anderson had a monstrous shift late in the game, but no one else seemed to want to match that energy level so it went for naught in the end.
The team spent to the cap to be highly competitive this year, and right out of the gate they were. Yes, a chunk of it was routinely dunking on the Vancouver Canucks, but that’s exactly what this team should have been doing with the roster they had. Even with the coaching change it feels like the team wilts under the slightest bit of pressure, and those with the power to do so don’t alter the game plan to rectify the situation. Jake Allen shouldn’t have to routinely be the only Canadiens player we can mention as a positive after games. He’s doing an outstanding job, but he can’t score goals.
I don’t think anyone expects that every player is going to play at his peak level every single night. However, the team being unable to get any sort of consistent showing from multiple players in a single game is indicative of some problem with the system they’re all in.
The Canadiens by all models and logic should make the playoffs, but it really feels like they shouldn’t be rewarded for other teams managing to be more inept in crucial situations.
I just want to know what this team is. Is it the one standing toe-to-toe with Connor McDavid, or is it the one being run out of the rink by the Ottawa Senators and Flames?
I guess we’ll find out on Saturday night with another big result on the table.