Western Canada has traditionally become the place where Canadiens teams have gone to die. The only thing missing from the Canadiens brutal performance in Calgary were the last rites. They were that bad.
Not that we should be surprised.
In the millennium, the Canadiens have posted an awful record in the Canadian West.
THE DEAD ZONE –
Consider this. The Canadiens have won only once in regulation time at the Saddledome since the 2001-2002 season. Over that stretch in ten meetings, the Flames are 8-1-1.
But goes much deeper than that. The Canadiens have won only 13 of 37 combined games in Calgary, Edmonton and Vancouver in recent years.
It’s one of those imponderables that have haunted the team since the turn of the century.
Poor Al Montoya. He’s had some rough career nights against the Flames in the past. Montoya was expecting to avoid them this time but was called upon when Price was scratched with the flu in the late afternoon,. It would have been nice if his teammates had given at least a little support. What Montoya got was an effort that matched the 10-0 loss at Columbus back in November.
OFF KILTER –
There is very little that came out on the positive side of the ledger in this game. The defense had a dreadful night especially, but not limited to Alexei Emelin who’s is trying to re-establish a level of confidence after being a healthy scratch in Vancouver.
Emelin was a better player beside Shea Weber and his current partner Jeff Petry was better when he was paired with Andrei Markov. After watching the messy game both pairings had, I wonder if Claude Julien isn’t thinking the same thing.
Calgary coach Glen Gulutson described the Flames effort at the Bell Centre in January as “pathetic”. Claude Julien is not noted for hyperbole but I’m sure that description is floating around in the back of his mind.
It was evident in the first period that the Canadiens forwards were going to take a pass on this on this one. Four of the five shots in the period came from Alexei Emelin, Dwight King and fourth liners Andreas Martinsen and Steve Ott. For the most part, the so-called offensive forwards were nowhere to be found the entire night. Even the fights involving Paul Byron and later on Steve Ott failed to bring any emotion to the Canadiens bench.
With no Radulov or Plekanenec you might expect a dip in production. What was unexpected was the Canadiens missing work ethic.
THE HEAT IS ON –
A playoff berth isn’t likely to be in jeopardy but the hold on first place in the Atlantic Division that the Canadiens have held since October 20th is very much in danger.
The Ottawa Senators won again Thursday night and moved to within two points of the Canadiens with two games in hand. Both the Senators and Canadiens have won 38 and lost 22. The difference is the ‘loser points’. The Canadiens have 8 and Ottawa 6. Before the Canadiens play their next game Sunday, the Senators will meet the lowly Avalanche at Denver Saturday night with the possibility of closing the gap to two points.
MOVING ON –
Considering their record in the Western Canada swing over the years, three of a possible six points seemed like a decent goal. There’ll have to be a complete turnaround Sunday when the Canadiens play in Edmonton in order to reach it. Despite those dreadful teams the Canadiens have won only two of the last eight games in Edmonton since the 2003 Heritage Classic at Commonwealth Stadium.