MONTREAL – The Montreal Canadiens are a team that is like that ex-girlfriend you can’t quite get over – everything seems great one day, but then you’re getting the cold shoulder the next.
Yes, the Habs are still first in the east and have an incredible record against conference rivals, but the injury bug is catching up with them and some sloppy habits are starting to show.
As temperatures drop in the city, the team’s fortunes could be going with it, but let’s start with the good news.
The Montreal Canadiens are rife will feel-good stories this season.
The latest is Daniel Carr.
The winger was called up to the Canadiens this week from the AHL and scored – in his first NHL game – on his first shift – on his first shot (did I miss anything?)
I seem to remember another player who pulled the same feat once…
What’s even better is Carr’s entire family was in the stands to see that goal.
It’s enough to warm your heart.
As the Carey Price injury saga continues, Mike Condon is shouldering the load for the Canadiens.
I think Condon is doing reasonably well but he is – and he does play like – a backup.
He did make one Carey Price-quality save on Saturday, though.
I mean, c’mon – who does this guy think he is?
It reminds me of a pretty amazing save by the guy who is usually between the pipes.
Which do you think is better?
#OTwithKelly: A game of injuries and musical chairs
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#OTwithKelly: Stay optimistic, it’s only one bad game
The Canadiens’ downward spiral isn’t a free fall – yet.
Dropping two consecutive games is not reason to worry if you were playing against Washington Capitals calibre teams.
Thursday’s loss was close; it was one of those litmus test games to show how you play against the best.
Although the Canadiens were bested, it was a close and well fought game.
Saturday night was a different story with the Habs losing 3-2 against the Carolina Hurricanes.
As one of the league’s bottom dwellers, the Hurricanes’ area of expertise: face offs and losing.
Heading into this week, they sit 28th out of 30 with a 9-13-4 record.
Every team is going to have an off game, the Canadiens included, but many of the team’s stars are on their own cold streaks.
P.K. Subban has just one goal this season – one – and there is a way to look at this through rose-coloured lenses.
First off, he has 20 assists.
That’s good enough for top-five in the NHL right now and this could be a sign that the Canadiens powerplay has evolved into something more dynamic.
At this time last year, Subban had six goals and 11 assists.
It was the same recipe, pass around for a few seconds before tee-ing up Subban from the point.
Subban has been criticized over the years as playing too offensively and leaving his defensive responsibilities on the back burner.
Now, the scoring is spread more evenly.
Is this the new norm?
Back of the net
Tomas Plekanec hasn’t found the back of the net in the past 12 games.
The great part about the first-line centre is he can be an effective playmaker and scorer.
He’s not just the set-up guy – he can go until the end.
I’m going to cut Plekanec a bit of slack on this one as both his wingers, captain Max Pacioretty and Brendan Gallagher, have been injured over the past few weeks.
With Pacioretty back, the line has looked dangerous, but Plekanec hasn’t had that scoring touch.
There’s been a rotation of right wingers, but none have been as effective as Gallagher at getting under a goaltender’s skin and digging pucks out of the corner.
Plekanec is locked in a five-way tie for fifth in team scoring, but Gallagher’s return should provide a spark for the centreman.
After an unheard of start, the Dutch Gretzky hasn’t been able to maintain his 40+ goal pace.
I know, I know, you’re shocked.
Dale Weise is currently tied for second in team scoring with seven goals so far.
While I can’t fault the third liner for playing, well, like a third liner, there’s no denying that Weise isn’t the go-to guy anymore for that clutch goal.
Don’t get me wrong, we all love the Weise show.
There’s no better guy in the room to get a funny quote from and perhaps the person who was the most surprised at his scoring breakout was the man himself.
Regardless, here’s a player who gets everything he accomplishes through hard work.
This isn’t the last you’ll hear of Dale Weise.
Plus, the eventual return of Gallagher, Price and fourth-line centre Torrey Mitchell will give the team a much needed boost.
The problem is the Canadiens might need them back sooner than they’re ready.
The Habs have a tough schedule ahead as they’re playing divisional rivals and have a West Coast road trip.
The losing streak is at two for now, but who knows if December will be generous to the Canadiens.