To get over .500 the Canadiens faced winning six more games than they lost over the next months of the season, which is a considerable winning streak and a large hill to climb.
We only need to look at recent Canadiens history to see how tough the task can be.
In 2011 the Canadiens started their season at 2-5-2. It took them 32 games and the firing of Head coach Jacques Martin to get to a game over .500. Granted the Canadiens were not a very good team in 2011.
A better example might be the Anaheim Ducks of two seasons ago. They won only one of their first ten games. Subsequently through the final 72 games they posted the best record in hockey en route to finishing first in the Pacific Division. Even so, they didn’t break over the .500 mark until January.
Twice over the last three games the Canadiens have tried to at least reach even .500 and failed. They’ll get another chance on Thursday against Arizona and if they win there, it will be Toronto Saturday to break over the plateau.
…..From the Stats sheet, Pacioretty, who already led the league in shots-on-goal led the Canadiens with seven more. Canadiens were only 41% in the faceoff circle. Only Plekanec won more than he lost at 53%.
…..I have trouble analyzing Jeff Petry’s game right now. He led the Canadiens with six hits. But he also led the team with three giveaways. It might be the company he’s keeping back there, but he’s played better than he is right now.
The last thing on the minds of the Columbus Blue Jackets was supplying interesting entertainment for the Canadiens fan base. And playing an outstanding road game they pulled the entertainment value to about two on a scale of ten.
That a team can score in the third minute of a game and then play for a 1-0 victory the rest of the night and nearly succeed speaks volumes to the way coaches and systems have hurt the NHL product over the last fifteen years and at the same time spoke volumes to the state of the Canadiens offense. This was the second game in four nights we’ve seen this kind of hockey. The Canadiens came all the way back to win in overtime against Buffalo. They failed in overtime against Columbus.
The Blue Jackets threw a blanket over the Canadiens after they took the 1-0 lead which is to their credit but in turn the Canadiens offered little resistance through the first and second periods. In the third period they cranked it up but the best they could muster against a hot goaltender was the tieing goal.
Through the first two periods the only forward with any intensity was Brendan Gallagher but, try as he might, he couldn’t do it alone.
After being swallowed up by the Columbus defense through the first two period, Max Pacioretty finally surfaced in the third, producing five of his seven shots and registering four glittering scoring chances.
THE SICK BAY –
The Canadiens arrived at the Bell Centre knowing that six of their members were out with injuries including, most recently Artturi Lehkonen. Then just before gametime the flu bug hit Torrey Mitchell forcing Claude Julien to dress seven defensemen with Victor Mete pressed into duty as a forward. And the kid did all right through the first two periods highlighted by a first period setup for Jacob de la Rose that was muffed.
Look for Daniel Carr to be recalled from Laval Wednesday to replace Lehkonen.
….Based on what we saw in this game and his lack of production since the season started, it seems to me that Jacob de la Rose is not even close to being NHL ready He was slow getting to the puck on Mete’s setup in the first period and then had a brutally slow release after a perfect setup from Andrew Shaw in the third.
…..Nothing was seen that indicates that Charlie Lindgren’s game is hitting the wall. No chance on either goal and he was strong on the other nine dangerous shots he faced.
….Despite leading the league in shots on goal, the Canadiens went into this game ranked 23rd in offense. Can you imagine where they would be without Lindgren.
….Antti Niemi will be at practice Wednesday but there’s no chance he’ll get in a game until at least 21st or 22nd when the Canadiens play their next back-to-back games and only if Carey Price still isn’t available.
MOVING ON –
The Canadiens are now 8-9-2. They’ll try to hit .500 again Thursday against the league’s worst team. Arizona has won only one of twelve road games this season. Then it’s Toronto Saturday night followed by those back-to-back games Tuesday and Wednesday at Dallas and Nashville. Then three more at home.