Poor Len here (but not pictured -- that's my dream girl, there), with some thoughts on the performance, Friday and Saturday, of Canada's team -- the Montréal Canadiens.
Let's start with the numbers that count. 12 games into the 82-game NHL schedule, les Glorieux are 10-1-1 -- 10 wins, 1 defeat in regulation time, 1 defeat in a shoot-out -- a total of 21 points out of a possible 24. That's good for first in their division, first in their conference, and first in the NHL overall! If they could keep winning at that pace, they could wind up with 146 points. And, let us pray, the Stanley Cup!
Now then, about Friday night's debacle at Columbus. Going into that game, the Habs were 9-0-1, on a 6-game win streak, so it was clear they were going to lose sometime. The only questions were when, and how badly. No-one, no-one, expected it would be on Friday night, by a score of 10-0!
That's the worst pasting the Habs have suffered since 1995, the night Patrick Roy said he'd had enough. I think no-one, including the opposing team, would have blamed Habs #2 goalie, Al Montoya, for heading into the Ohio hills, never to be seen again. But it wasn't solely his fault. And I don't blame Michel Therrien for leaving him in net for the third period. The game was out of reach midway through the second, and there was no point in putting Carey Price in for the third, running the risk of having him (Price) injured.
Yes, Montoya's goaltending was sub-par, but the Habs' defence was worse, and their offence worse still! They have been outshot in their last four games (including last night's 5-4 victory over Philthydelphia) and were fortunate to have Price between the pipes for three of them. Both he and Montoya should sue the other 18 guys for non-support. You can't take just one shot every five minutes or so and expect your goalie to give you a win, regardless.
Montréal's top four defencemen -- Weber and Emelin, Markov and Petry -- have been OK, but also guilty of egregious errors, especially Markov who -- let's face it -- is getting old and just doesn't have the speed any more. Pateryn and Beaulieu are the third defence pair. The latter is too often careless with the puck and lacking in concentration and commitment. Time to let him watch from the press box, IMHO, and try out Hanly, or maybe Barberio, who's currently languishing in St. John's.
That brings us to the Habs' so-called offence. After starting the season with four goals a game for the first four games or so, production has fallen off. And a lot of their goals are being scored by the defence. The best front line, in terms of consistency, has been the fourth line -- Danault, Mitchell and (usually) Flynn. What does that tell you?
Montréal is getting good efforts from most of the forwards, particularly Alexandr Radulov, a great off-season pick-up by Marc Bergevin. What's been missing is effort and intensity from some of the old pros who the club should be able to look to for leadership. Hello, Max Pacioretty! "Patches" has scored only two goals in 12 games, and has not played well without the puck. You may have the "C" for "Captain", Max, but you need a much bigger "E" for "Effort". I would have said the same to Asst. Capt. Tomas Plekanec, except that he scored the game-winner last night -- his first of the season -- and is dependable on the penalty kill.
Final note... All the centres except Torrey Mitchell need to work on winning face-offs. Not one Montréal centre (except Mitchell) is over 50% at the dot. You can't shoot the puck if you don't have it! And to everybody... when you do have the puck, shoot the blessed thing! Be inspired by the great Habs players of yesteryear: Lance Ledisc and Lance Larondelle. Don't wait for the perfect set-up. Shoot the puck as hard as you want! Some of them are bound to go in.
Commentaire de Guillaume Lefrançois, La Presse: Le Canadien vient possiblement de jouer ses trois moins bons matchs de la saison, accordant 120 tirs et 14 buts. Mais il s'en est tiré avec quatre points sur une possibilité de six, dans une séquence de trois duels en quatre soirs.