At what point do we run out of excuses?

seems to me we’ve been subjected to every explanation imaginable for five straight Canadiens losses starting with the fact that Claude Julien was implementing a new system at training camp, a rebuilt defense, Alex Galchenyuk, the Jonathan Drouin centre-ice audtion and on and on…….

I’m not quite there yet, but there are more than a few who are coming to the conclusion that we should stop making excuses and admit that this team, as presently constituted, is simply not very good and the only solution is a major shakeup.

DEAD IN THE WATER

The Canadiens aren’t the only East Coast team that has run head long into the pitfall of the annual “California trip”.

It usually involves three games in four nights against teams that have been among the league’s first divison over the last decade. Knowing that every game out there is going to be a hard slog, how can anyone explain the lack of intensity evident by the Canadiens Tuesday night in San Jose?   After some limited success in the first ten minutes, the Canadiens stopped skating.  Carey Price faced twenty second period shots and basically stopped competing.

LEADERSHIP

Over the last half dozen years few players hav scored more often than Max Pacioretty. At a time when the Canadiens desperately need someone to kick start a struggling offense, the team captain in nowhere in sight.

Against the Sharks he had two shots on goal; only one through the game’s first two periods. More than that, they were the only two shots he attempted against the Sharks.   Pacioretty scored a goal in the season opener.  In five games since he hasn’t registered a point.  He’s always been a streaky player. What is frustrating is his inability rise above his slumps when a team needs him most.

THE PENALTIES

This wasn’t the best-officiated game we’ve seen this season but in his post-game media scrum Julien mentioned the “defensive laziness” that led to the seven minor penalties called against his team, all of them stick fouls. The king of the untimely penalty has become  Ales Hemsky, who picked up his league-leading third slashing penalty in five games and was just exiting the penalty box when the  Joe Pavelsky scored what turned out to be the game winning goal.  . I have no idea the extent of the Claude Julien’s patience with Hemsky but, considering his absence of offensive contribution,  I imagine it’s stretched pretty close to the breaking point.

GOALTENDING

Carey Price gave up four more which bring his goals against average up to 3.56 and his save percentage down to .885. Two of those four goals were scored on those power plays. I don’t think Price is getting much help from those who are charged with protecting but even he admits his game is not in a good place right now. So far he’s started every game. Time to give him a night off.

IT WASN’T ALL BAD

If there were a Canadiens first star I would have been inclined to award it to Victor Mete. with each game his confidence level rises another notch.  He picked up his first NHL point in the game and his 90 foot pass up the middle to send Charles Hudon away on a breakaway was one of the rare Canadiens highlights.  Mete plays his ninth game next Tuesday at the Bell Centre after which the Canadiens have to make their decision. We’ll see how that goes.

Brandon Davidson had another good game which means he’ll be back in the lineup Wednesday night in Los Angeles. His partner Joe Morrow fouled up on the game’s first goal but after that, wasn’t very noticeable, which can be a good thing.

The power play was up and down. Using Shea Weber down near the faceoff dots rather than out at the point seems to a thing took to long to come. His first goal of the season came from there and Martin Jones still hasn’t seen the shot.

MOVING ON

Now it’s Los Angeles. The second game in 24 hours. Although he wouldn’t say after the game, you can legitimately expect Julien to give Al Montoya his first start of the season, saving Price for Friday night at Anaheim. Five straight losse and the spectre of coming home in a season-opening 1-6-1 hole looms.