It is one of those mysteries I will probably never solve. Why did three different Canadiens general managers refuse to even discuss Jaromir Jagr’s desire to play for the Canadiens. First it was Bob Gainey, then Pierre Gauthier and three years ago Marc Bergevin. Of the three, we maybe give Bergevin a pass because when Jagr asked for the third time he was already 40 years old. I know Tomas Plekanec wanted him in Montreal badly. Those two made up two thirds of one of the best Czech scoring lines in International hockey. But it wasn’t to be for reasons unknown.
Jagr had as much to do with the 3-1 defeat of the Canadiens Tuesday night as anyone on the ice. After the Canadiens opened the scoring it was Jagr who put his big frame in front of Ben Scrivens completing blocking his view of Aleksander Barkov’s incoming which tied the game. In the second period Jagr showed the hands that have allowed him to score 799 career goals, including 733 in the NHL. That was the game winning goal. At the age of 43, Jagr is the leading scorer on the top team in the Atlantic Division.
This might very well have been an 8-1 blowout but for Ben Scrivens. He gave the Canadiens a chance right up to the time Barkov scored his second goal of the night midway through the third period. There were rumours that he had been playing lights-out in his last five appearances with Bakersfield of the AHL. Give the Canadiens pro scouts some credit in finding him at a critical time.
When the Canadiens ended their six game losing streak Monday night in Tampa the cry went up to from the dressing room that it was a game to build upon. Nothing doing. The offense went back to sleep. Max Pacioretty scored a power play goal to open the scoring and then largely disappeared for the rest of the night. scored.
Granted this was the second game in two nights, but that is a worn out excuse. This is the fourth time in the last five games and the sixth time in the last eight games that the Canadiens couldn’t past a single goal. Most of us have given up trying to explain the reasons behind Pacioretty, Desharnais and Plekanec suddenly disappearing from the scoresheet. Pacioretty had his goal and three other shots that were of little consequence. Plekanec had two and Desharnais didn’t even attempt a shot in this game.
Knowing you can’t fire the players in this day and age, what can be done?
Marc Bergevin admitted earlier Tuesday that meaningful trades are almost impossible to make in the salary cap age. That leaves a coaching change as the other option. This losing streak will have to run another couple of weeks before Bergevin considers a that option seriously. But when you top veteran players, one of them a captain and the other an alternate, are not coming to the arena mentally prepared, a shakeup of some sort needs to be contemplated.
The only time the Canadiens were doing anything mildly interesting was when the Galchenyuk line was on the ice. In the first period when the team was reasonably competitive, the line accounted for seven of the Canadiens 12 shots; Galchenyuk with 3, Carr and Eller with two each. Galchenyuk now has 2 goals, 3 assists in a five game points streak, which means he has points on five of the last eight goals the Canadiens have posted.
The good news outside of Scrivens and Galchenyuk. Daniel Carr again. He took four shots in the game all of them from within 20 feet and he hit a crossbar as well. Mark Barberio was steady. Sven Andrighetto had his moments as well. They are all Canadiens prospects. They’re not supposed to be outplaying the veterans.
December is over. At 3-11-0, the worst Canadiens calendar month in their 98 year history. With the loss to Florida they drop to second place in the Atlantic Division, a team that trailed them by 16 points at the beginning of the month. And the Panthers still hold two games in hand over them. Boston beat Ottawa 7-3 Tuesday night. They are now a point behind the Canadiens and they have played three fewer games. And Detroit is two points back and Ottawa three behind in fifth place and each also has two games in hand. That means, by winning percentage, the Canadiens are actually in fifth place in the division right now.
Next up is the Winter Classic at Foxboro against the Bruins. Good luck on that one. And the eight game road trip won’t end until the play at Philadelphia next Tuesday.