In February of 1988, Bob Gainey scored the only hattrick of his career. He saved it for the second last of his sixteen years in the NHL. The Canadiens beat the Winnipeg Jets 6-0 at the Forum that night. What I remember more than his three-goal night were Gainey’s comments when I interviewed him after the game. “If the Canadiens are depending on Bob Gainey to score it”s goals for them….they are in deep trouble.”
Now it’s 2010, and the go-to guys on the Canadiens, at least in their current slump, seem to be the likes of Mathieu Darche and to reprise Gainey’s words, “if the Canadiens are depending on Mathieu Darche (or, for that matter, Jeff Halpern), they are in trouble.”
The Canadiens had only one line offensive line in Dallas last night; Scott Gomez, Max Pacioretty and Brian Gionta came up with 12 of the Canadiens 29 shots and a shorthanded goal from Gionta. Halpern got the other. The Plekanec line was an offensive writeoff after Jacques Martin gave Andrei Kostitsyn a well-earned seat in the press box.
The best thing that can be said about the first two losses of this seven game road trip is, they were against non-conference rivals. Starting tomorrow night in Carolina , it’s back into the Eastern Conference where the Canadiens have had considerable success. Against all conference rivals they’re 15-8-1 buoyed in large part to a 9-3-0 record in their own Northeast division.
There’s reason for concern. The Canadiens are, officially, in third place in the Eastern Conference. In reality they’re 7th in the standings just two points ahead of Boston and eighth place. And in winning percentage they’re behind the Bruins who carry two games in hand.
So, after the the joys of October and November, reality bites. The first slump of the year, which is occuring on both sides of the puck, has put the team in a bind. Now, what?