The Montreal Canadiens served as slump busters for the Buffalo Sabres on Tuesday night, losing 7-2 and permitting the visitors to end their eight-game slide. It was ugly right from the opening puck drop, and the Habs found themselves facing a three-goal deficit less than three minutes into the hockey game.
Giving up three goals that quickly was a problem, but going scoreless on six power plays from there out was worse.
In the end, six more goals was what they’d have needed to win that game, and to ask for a 100% success rate would be a tad ambitious. But one or two goals could have changed the entire complexion of that game, at least making it more competitive, and at most giving them a real chance to get back in it.
Luckily, unlike some teams that have prematurely declared their rebuild over, the Canadiens are still admittedly a work in progress. Losses don’t sting too much this season, but losing 7-2 while squandering that many power plays is an annoyance. It has to get better throughout the course of the season in order to be useful when their rebuild is actually over.
At one point during a third period attempt, Mike Matheson was stripped of the puck by Tage Thompson. the puck went all the way back into the Canadiens zone, and Matheson took it himself, all the way back into the Buffalo zone. Once he crossed the line, however, he was stripped again, you guessed it, by Tage Thompson. Matheson did hold on to the puck longer than he should, but he also had nowhere to go with it in the neutral zone. It was a frustrating scene to watch.
There is a distinct lack of creativity. They rely on one of two things happening; Nick Suzuki scores from the top of the right circle, or Cole Caufield gets a wide open look. If the puck gets out of the zone, they struggle mightily to get set up again. There have been games where it was decent, but the next night ends up looking like they did against Buffalo.
It has to be addressed before winning becomes important. The last thing they need is to get to that light at the end of the rebuild tunnel, and still have us talking about this unit as a detriment to winning.
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