Canadiens: Home Is Not Where The Heart Is?

The Habs Need to Figure Out How to Win At Home.
Pittsburgh Penguins v Montreal Canadiens
Pittsburgh Penguins v Montreal Canadiens / Minas Panagiotakis/GettyImages

Following the Canadiens loss on Wednesday night to the Penguins, the Canadiens fell to 6-9-2 on home ice this season. More importantly and more concerning, they are now just 1-6-2 in their last nine games at the Bell Centre. Even for a rebuilding team, that’s a bit of a concern.

I’m not a firm believer in home ice advantage, especially after the Canadiens walked into Vegas and won two of three despite not playing in front of a packed crowd in over a year. Still, there’s something to be said about protecting your house, especially in a place as nice as the Bell Centre. The fans show up, rain or shine, good team or bad; the least you can do is reward their loyalty.

You want teams to dread coming to the Bell Centre, knowing they’re in for a tough environment to play in. Instead, it feels like a lot of teams have the date circled on their calendar, looking forward to the day they get to play in Montreal. And part of that makes sense, considering many consider it to be the best rink in the NHL, but right now, it feels like a free win, too.

No matter how you slice it, a 1-6-2 stretch is not great, rebuilding or not. And to be clear, this isn’t a new thing. Teams have been coming into Montreal and having a good deal of success for quite some time now. And that should leave a sour taste in the mouth of any Canadiens fan.

I’m not expecting a return to the days of the Montreal Forum, where teams wanted no part of playing there. But there was an allure to that place that was aided by the Canadiens ability to defend home ice. While the Bell Centre is lauded as one of the league’s best arenas, it doesn’t seem to correlate with winning more games.

I don’t know how you “flip the switch” and start winning at home. It’s perplexing, really. For a team like Arizona with their arena situation, I could understand. Or teams with arenas that are rarely full. But obviously, none of those apply to Montreal. The fans here are passionate and want to see their young players win. And despite players dropping like flies and the numerous losses, they still show up.

It’s time the Canadiens return the favour and deliver a product on home ice that gives the fans something to cheer about. When you talk about the culture you want to build, this feels like a pretty good place to start. That way, the Bell Centre only gets tougher to play in the better the team gets.