Last Place. Not exactly where you want to be at any point in the season, but that’s where the Montreal Canadiens find themselves. After posting a victory on Friday against Ottawa Montreal had won four straight and looked to be climbing the Northeast Division ladder. Two losses later and they’ve been leapfrogged by the Bruins (who they beat twice during that four game win streak) and are now the sole possessors of last place.
The most embarrassing of these two losses that has put Montreal where it is, has to be the 3-1 loss to Edmonton. Edmonton is having a fine season and is a skilled team at 9-3-2 (20 points). Montreal played Edmonton at home, allowed only 14 shots against and had six power play opportunities. Sounds like the recipe for a victory. Well that wasn’t the case. Edmonton scored three goals on only 14 shots. You might think that this paragraph is being redundant but that point needs to be stressed. a 4.67:1 shot to goal ratio will not win you games in professional hockey. Pee Wee hockey or Foosball maybe but not professional hockey. Then there is the pathetic power play output. The Canadiens had six opportunities and didn’t cash in on one of them. The six chances tied a season high for the Habs, who scored on two of those chances when they were a man up six times in a 4-2 win over Boston. Montreal has been atrocious on the power play this year with the 25th percentage at only 12.7 percent. When other teams make mistakes or you are given an opportunity like say a one man advantage, you need to be able to take advantage at a better rate.
The Habs were without Andrei Kostitsyn in the loss to Edmonton, after he injured himself in practice on Monday. He is currently listed day to day and the injury has not been disclosed. Losing a guy who has scored one of the teams seven power play goals and is tied for the team lead in goals scored doesn’t exactly aid a team trying to turn around it’s offensive production.
Troubling as well is goalie Carey Price reverting to poor play. Consistency is something any NHL team needs between the pipes and Price has not been coming through in that area. After posting godly numbers during the Habs four game win streak Price looked outmatched in the back to back losses with save percentages of under 86 percent in both games. His save percentage his treading at the 90 percent mark (he currently sits at .902) and as has been reiterated in previous posts Price needs to play like the stellar 2010-11 version of himself and not the guy who was a part of the Canadiens atrocious 1-5-2 start.
Montreal’s next three games run the gambit of talent in the NHL. They play a fourth place team when they travel to Phoenix to take on the Coyotes. They then take on Nashville (16 points) on the road before returning home for a showdown with Northeast Divisional opponent Buffalo (18 points). The Bruins have begun to turn things around. Now it might seem sacrilegious for the Habs to do anything like Boston but the Canadiens need to follow suit or the rest of the division will continue to pull away from them and Montreal will be left somewhere that’s hard to translate to their demanding fans; Dernier endroit. (Last place)
Which Carey Price is the real one? Are the Habs destined to stay in the basement? Let us know in the comments or on Twitter (@seeuinoctober).