As soon as Pierre Houde of RDS announced what the Canadiens’ record was when the team goes into the third period with a lead, I knew that my beloved Habs didn’t stand a chance. Like it or not, folks, hockey is indeed a mental game. It is now pretty evident that the Canadiens have a propensity to blow 2nd period leads and let’s face it, this is not a team that is feared by teams trailing with 20 minutes left to go. In fact, when dominating after 40 minutes, Montreal has only managed to win 15 while losing 6. This pattern ranks them 29th in the league at sustaining a lead in the final frame. Pretty, pretty, pretty poor.
No killer instinct. No confidence. No commitment? A team that plays in fear cannot possibly be expected to succeed. White knuckling it just doesn’t breed victory. This squad just cannot seem to seal the deal. After witnessing yet another collapse, i would be delusional not to concede that this team, despite its immense skill, simply does not know how to win. Whether this inability can be attributed to the coaching staff or whether it is the players who are to blame, we will never know. This team is doomed and i suspect that the dismantling will begin shortly now that the team sits in 14th position with 11 points separating them from the 8th place Maple Leafs. Oddly enough, when Bob Gainey rebuilt this team in 2009, he mentioned that it was critical to bring in players who could boast a wining pedigree. What happened?
Sell! Sell! Sell! I can no longer be blinded by loyalty. This team is not going to make it and i don’t mean just the playoffs. Something is missing and this will have to be addressed. At this point it does not matter when the changes take place, but changes there will indeed have to be. The time for excuses has long ago come and gone. I delayed and delayed my decision to change camps but i am marching to the beat of a different drummer tonight. As much as i love this team, it is clearly time to say goodbye.
Speaking as a fan who thought that this edition of the team certainly had what it takes to qualify as a Stanley Cup Finalist, i cannot trust my own instincts as far as who stays and who goes is concerned. So while i want to say that my list of untouchables includes Carey Price, PK Subban, Hal Gill, Josh Gorges, Eric Cole, David Desharnais, Lars Eller, Max Pacioretty, i no longer feel confident that i can adequately defend my selections. I have lost as much faith in my own analytical abilities as i have in the team that captured my heart when i was 5 years old. Sad. Sad. Sad.
I hope that the ownership group will select the best possible “cleaners” to come in and revive this plummeting franchise. Adjustments will probably have to be made at each and every level. We have waited 20 years since the last Stanley Cup parade on Ste. Catherine Street and i can wait a few more if that means that the team will rebuild in the right way. I want to see, in my team, a perennial contender…a team where excellence is on display year after year after year…i think that the Detroit Red Wings organization might serve as a very good reference point.
I have written 566 words thus far and have not addressed the actual game details yet. I doubt that it is even relevant to do so at this point. I mean once we have established that this team is in crisis, and that it cannot possibly continue to exist in its present incarnation come trade deadline, does the minutiae of tonight’s matchup even matter? Probably not. No, make that: Certainly not.
So instead of dwelling on Brodeur’s dominance of our Habs and instead of commenting on the Habs’ anemic powerplay, and rather than dissect each and every move that led to yet another Montreal loss, i am looking instead to the future. Nothing that i can write now will change the fortunes of my team’s 2011-2012 season. I will modify my focus in an attempt to make whatever personal adjustments need to happen for me to come to accept and love whatever my team becomes by February 27th (or July 1st). This is going to be one long summer.