Streaky.

That’s the word most often used to describe the 2017-2018 edition of the Canadiens.

A better word might be “mediocre”. And if a team is mediocre at best, odds of making the playoffs are less than 50-50.

This was a stretch of the season when the Canadiens were supposed to make hay.

Thirteen of sixteen games at home and for a percentage of them all they did was mess the bed.  Through the sixteen games their record was 7-6-3. That is the real definition of mediocre.

Their five game winning streak brought the Canadiens to a game over .500 for the first time since the season opener but then they went straight back in the tank, dropping three in a row at the Bell Centre, the last two against rookie goaltenders.

After they play New Jersey Thursday at home this streaky, mediocre team heads out on a seven game road trip which includes the always disastrous Western Canadian swing and a game at Tampa. Fans can legitimately worry that they will ever see their team over .500 again this season.

THE BAD CAREY

Carey Price won only three of his first eleven starts this season.  When he went on injury reserve his save percentage was .877.  During the time he was out, he made some equipment changes, most notably he went back to the skates he used last year.  the changes seemed to work.  Price was the Canadiens most influential player for those five consecutive wins. Against Edmonton it was back to the bad-old-Carey.  He simply wasn’t mentally prepared to play this game. Four goals on 14 shots before he was replaced by Antti Niemi.  All four goals came on shots that should have been easily handled.   His movement in the crease was slow and his puck handling which was so noticeable in the game against Calgary, was poor  especially on the giveaway that led to the winning goal.

FEELING THE PAIN

Something is bothering Shea Weber. Probably the same thing that put him on injury reserve for six games. We can only speculate but, by he way his mobility has decreased, one could make an argument it’s a knee issue. Where he normally stands up and keeps the gap at the blueline, since he came back he has been compensating for his lack of mobility by backing off the line givng too much room for attacking forwards. Weber was on the ice for the first three Edmonton goals. His partner Jordie Benn is nobody’s description of a top pairing defenseman. With Weber havng his own problems, Benn’s limitations were exposed by Edmonton’s speed.

THE ROCKET LINE

The last three games, the fourth line has been the Canadiens best.  You know that the team is in a world of trouble when the fourth line is carrying the team. Just over three weeks ago Byron Froese, Nicolas Deslauriers and Daniel Carr were all playing for the Laval Rocket. While there have been spotty moments from the other forwards, this line has been excellent every time they’ve been put on the ice. In the five games that Carr has been part of the line they have combined for 4 goals and 12 assists. Deslauriers is plus-7, Carr plus-5 and Froese plus-3. Carr has 7 points in his five games.

If you could have named a Canadiens star in a game like this, I would have had Carr at the top of my list.

PRODUCTION VOID

And what about Max Pacioretty?

His first and only shot on goal in the game came at 12.38 of the third period with the Oilers leading 6-1. He only attempted three shots the whole night.- one missed and the other was blocked.   Pacioretty tells us he’s tinkering with his game which reminds me of Tiger Woods who, at the top of his career, started to fiddle with his golf swing and watched his career collapse. Pacioretty has one goal his last 13 games and at his current pace would finish the season with 21 goals and 46 points.

ALSO WORTH MENTIONING

….For the eleventh time this season the Canadiens gave up two goals in the span of less than a minute – Edmonton’s 5th and 6th goals. It nearly happened twice in the game. In the first period Cammalleri scored and 34 seconds later Puljujarvi hit the crossbar. Edmonton’s third goal came at 1.11 of the second period. Their fourth goal was scored 1:13 later.

….Count the ways the Canadiens were bad in this game. Goaltending – poor. Shots on goal – 40-24 Edmonton. Special teams – outscored 2-1. Faceoffs – 40%.  Can it get any worse?

MOVING ON

The Canadiens get four days off before they face the Devils Thursday. Presumably they’ll be trying to sort out their problems between now and then. With this group it becomes a question of where to start..   After the Devils they hit the road and won’t return to the Bell Centre until the second of January. The road trip starts in Ottawa and then moves west to Vancouver, Calgary and Edmonton. And we know how that usually works out.

Tough times ahead.