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GAME #18 – FROM THE JAWS OF DEFEAT – Canadiens-3 Columbus-2 (Shootout) Nov. 12, 2019

The Canadiens had the goaltender. In a nutshell that was the difference in the Canadiens 3-2 shootout win over the Columbus Blue Jackets Tuesday night at the Bell Centre.

Why do teams insist on playing down to the level of their opponents. It’s the unanswerable question asked in professional sport for decades.

Columbus came in to Montreal with only three wins in regulation time this season. The Canadiens played them as if somehow they both belonged in the same NHL sandbox. It’s not the first time the Canadiens have laid an egg against a have-not. Remember Detroit? And Minnesota?

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GAME #17 – GRINDING IT OUT – Canadiens-3 Los Angeles-2 (Nov. 9, 2019)

The month of November has been listed as critical to hopes for the Canadiens regaining a berth in the playoffs. Of the thirteen games on the schedule, eight are against teams who currently are not in a playoff position and based on the way they’re playing are not likely to be around when the playoffs begin in April.

That doesn’t mean, in the parity driving NHL of today, that it’s going to be easy to win the lion’s share of those games. The Canadiens were reminded of that Saturday night with their narrow 3-2 win over the 30th ranked Los Angeles Kings. The league’s bottom feeders are generally forced to grind it out against superior opposition. The Canadiens matched the Kings grinders and thanks to some more good goaltending and their power play they have a pretty nice 5-1-1 streak going.

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GAME #16 – AN UNEARNED POINT – Philadelphia-3 Canadiens-2 (Overtime) Nov. 7, 2019

There were two things to consider in summing up Thursday night’s game in Philadelphia.

Number one was the brilliant work of Carey Price.. Number two, the lousy effort put in by the Canadiens in support of Price.

The game was an inexplicable reversal of Tuesday night’s win over the Bruins in which Price’s work was criticized and the play in front of him was outstanding. We’re seeing an early season pattern of the Canadiens following a well executed win with a terrible team effort.

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GAME #15 – A BOLD STATEMENT – Canadiens-5 Boston-4 (Nov. 5, 2019)

Hockey people like to call them “statement games”. Those are the games on the schedule where teams test themselves tactically, physically and mentally against those considered to be projected contenders for the Stanley Cup.

So far this season the Canadiens have been very good in statement games. Against the league’s bottom feeders, not so good. Go figure.

Their 5-4 win over the Bruins Tuesday night at the Bell Centre was their eighth win of the season. Six of those wins have been in statement games. So far they’ve beaten the defending Stanley Cup champion Blues and Toronto twice along with Vegas and now Boston. Five of their seven losses have come against teams currently in the bottom third of standings including bottom feeders Detroit and Minnesota. As I said, go figure.

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GAME #14 – ROUGHED UP IN DALLAS – Dallas-4 Canadiens-1 (Nov. 2, 2019)

Predicting how teams will react to the vagaries of the NHL schedule is one of those hockey imponderables. 

For example Saturday night the Canadiens were in Dallas facing a team that had played the night before in Denver Colorado.  The Canadiens had a day off but their game against the Stars would be their third in four nights.   So where would the advantage lie.  Turns out, the Stars handled the adversity of the schedule better than the Canadiens in a surgical 4-1 win.  

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