Most teams that find themselves sitting precariously atop their division, especially this early in the season, would likely wear their hearts on their sleeves, and play their guts out.
Last night, the Montreal Canadiens made their way into Nationwide Arena, and promptly picked up where they left off after Saturday nights match-up against the Florida Panthers. At the wrong end of a result.
It became clear very early on that the Habs had left their game at home. Despite having a solid opening four and a half minutes, the tide soon began turning in the Blue Jackets favour. They looked tighter, with cleaner tape to tape passes. They looked stronger and more determined. They looked like a team that was hungry, while the Canadiens looked complacent and dominated.
Whether it was in the offensive or defensive zone, there were always more blue jerseys visible than white. Columbus back-checked aggressively, and fore-checked ferociously, and made the Habs pay the price.
Speaking of Price, here was another night that Carey didn't exactly have the toughest workout. He faced a total of only 24 shots on goal, 19 of them coming during even strength play. There is no doubt, despite the speed of Nash, and his sniping ability, that Price needs to stop shots like the opening goal. But having your defense fold around you is no help. Both Josh Gorges and Hal Gill had terrible nights. They both ended the game at -2 on the night, and were consistently out of position - specifically on the third goal potted by Kyle Wilson.
Jaro Spacek, who was given the night on the ice as a type of redemption from Coach Martin, did anything but redeem himself. Once again, taking an undisciplined penalty; not to mention forcing Price to make a stop on a shot that he took on his own net, clearly shows that the veteran defenseman needs a day or two out of the line-up to think things through.
Credit has to be given to Mathieu Garon though. He turned away everything that he faced (a total of 29 shots), making some great saves against his ex-team mates, and in turn earned himself the 17th shutout of his career.
The question that now rests heavily on everyone's minds: Where is the Montreal offense. The Habs haven't found the back of the net since Darche claimed his 2nd of the year at 02:13 of the second period against the Panthers on Saturday night. And his linemates earning the supporting points were Halpern and Pouliot. Kind of begs the question ... what are the top 6 forwards doing these days.
Clearly there needs to be some changes to the top 2 lines. Perhaps it's time to get Cammy back with Gionta and Gomez. Plekanec and Kostitsyn seem to be the sole producers in the top 6 anyway. And why did Maxime Lapierre's fire burn out? He's looking more like his old self again; and that, we could do without.
Friday takes the team to Buffalo, where the match-up will be no easier. Then it's home for Ottawa the following night. Losses are not an option in these two games.
I think we all knew that this wasn't going to be an easy week, but simply put, the Montreal Canadiens shot themselves in the foot last night with the most lackluster performance of the season thus far. And in doing so, have squarely put the pressure on themselves for the weekend to come.