***Just a note: This article was written prior to Monday night’s game against the Ottawa Senators.
Sometimes it’s a little bit difficult to understand the 2009-2010 version of the Montreal Canadiens.
The enigmatic team has been quite confusing during different points of the year. The Habs have been tagged as small, inconsistent, and, most recently, dominant. The six-game winning streak showcased the Canadiens smart play and Jacques Martin’s system has finally paid dividends.
Skeptics before this past week believed that though the Canadiens were ahead in the standings, the games in hand that other teams held would surely propel them and sink Les Glorieux.
Not so much: The Canadiens are still in very good shape, while the teams that needed to win their games did not.
Facing the Toronto Maple Leafs has never been an easy task. It was not one this past Saturday–though it probably should have been.
A criticism has been that the Montreal Canadiens play to the level of their opponents. Unfortunately for the Habs, the Leafs are not a good team. Still, they managed to outshoot them, outplay them, and ultimately beat them. Luckily for their fans, the Canadiens managed to escape the game with a point obtained in a shootout loss. In my opinion and in many others’, it was miraculous that the game lasted that long.
But enough negativity–this team is playoff bound. So long as they play the brand of grind-it-out, smart hockey that led them to their string of wins, they should be in good shape.
But what if they don’t?
Is it impossible that they go on a six-game losing streak?
Hopefully they do not and the people who spoke of playing to the level of their opponents are correct. The team can surely use wins against Ottawa, Buffalo (twice), New Jersey, and Philadelphia: All of whom are ahead in the standings.
They can also probably muster up a couple of victories against the Carolina Hurricanes–one of the hottest teams on the NHL since the New Year.
That would leave them with three games against Florida, the Islanders, and Toronto, all of which they could lose comfortably. Heck, maybe they can even steal a point against one of them!
I am not a betting man, but if I had to place a wager on the the power-play improving with the return of Michael Cammalleri and Marc-Andre Bergeron, I probably would. If they notch some more goals on the PP, their game would be quite good–bordering on excellent–overall.
And then, in the playoffs, we could hear of more theories as to why the Canadiens won’t win…