Saturday, November 24, 2007

Thoughts and Musings

The Canadiens are currently in a freefall.

It's not panic time yet, but the team needs to get back to the things that brought them success early in the season.

Losing three games in eight days against a divisional rival is tough to swallow. Buffalo is back into the thick of the Eastern conference race thanks to their four-game winning streak, three of which came against the Habs.

This is a Sabres team that is a skeleton of the one that dominated the NHL last year on the way to the President's Trophy. Daniel Briere and Chris Drury are gone. Teppo Numminen is still out with his heart problem. Thankfully, we won't see them again for quite some time and the Canadiens should be happy about it.

The Habs still have a respectable record (12-8-1-2).

Their record against the Sabres is now 2-3.

Against the Sens, they're 0-3.

So six of their eight regulation losses have come against two teams.

Fast, skilled teams. Teams the Canadiens are supposed to match up well against. This simply hasn't been the case. In fact, the Habs were thoroughly outclassed in both recent games against the Sabres. They can bitch all they want about the call against Mike Komisarek on Friday night, but the fact is that Saku Koivu interfered with Ryan Miller on an earlier goal, this is the way these things go. If you're playing the game in such a way that a single penalty call turns the game against you, you're doing something wrong.

It's extremely disheartening to see early chances with no goals to show for them. That's exactly what happened at the Bell Centre tonight. The Habs, like their fans, get down on themselves when they can't get an early lead.

Good teams overcome these things and find ways to put the puck in the net. Brian Campbell's Sabres are starting to look like one of those teams. The score would have been much more lopsided had it not been for Cristobal Huet's heroics.

Campbell logged 27:49 of ice time, was a +2 on the night, and got an assist and blocked seven Canadiens shots. He quarterbacks his teams offense while paying the price in his own zone.

Alex Kovalev had five hits and two shots on goal. This is a problem. You don't want your best offensive player getting more hits than chances.

We could discuss stats ad nauseum, but the key thig is, the Habs are too reliant on their special teams. There's bound to be ups and downs in any given season, but the key thing is to adapt and continue to find ways to score goals and win games.

When a game ends, wipe it from your mind and move on.

On to Toronto for a HUGE game on Tuesday.

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