That confidence that the Montreal Canadiens had after their first win of the season on Saturday night? It lasted all of one period.
Twenty. Whole. Minutes.
The Habs look set for a season rife with inconsistency after last night’s 5-1 blowout loss to the Seattle Kraken.
Inconsistent play, inconsistent focus and, worst of all, inconsistent effort.
These aren’t the surprisingly hot Buffalo Sabres or San Jose Sharks. The Kraken are an expansion team, 1-4-1 going into the game. An island of misfit toys that are seriously lacking in the skill department. Seattle simply outworked the Habs. And that is unacceptable.
It didn’t start out great for the Montreal Canadiens in their first game in Seattle in 102 years. In a theme that would become a recurring nightmare, the Habs forwards got caught up the ice at their own blueline. Kraken forward Jordan Eberle cut into the middle of the zone from the left far too easily and was allowed to snipe glove side to give the home team the lead 62 seconds in.
Canadiens forward Mike Hoffman responded 10 minutes later as he whacked in a loose puck past Seattle goaltender Phillip Grubauer to tie things up.
That was as good as things would get for the visitors.
Over the next 30 minutes, the Habs sabotaged themselves with turnover after turnover that cost them dearly. Sami Niku joined the rush late in the first period but made a poor decision firing the puck into the pads of Brandon Tanev. Tanev beat Niku back up the ice and the Canadiens transition defence left Tanev unassailed in tight next to Allen. The Habs goaltender let in his first banana of the season to go down 2-1.
In the second, the Montreal Canadiens played as if they knew losing was inevitable. The famous block of five that head coach Dominique Ducharme has preached since being appointed coach was non-existent as four skaters abandoned Brett Kulak by skating up ice. Christian Dvorak mishandled a pass at the blueline and only Kulak was left to defend as Seattle countered quickly. Yanni Gourde held on to the puck on a 2-on-1 and out waited Allen to make it 3-1.
The Habs energy level was already low but the backbreaker came on a careless change. Four Canadiens tried to get off at the same time and Grubauer quickly head-manned the puck to Gourde at the Habs blueline. Tanev beat the changing Canadiens up ice and made no mistake on a breakaway to leave no doubt that the Habs were on their way to a 1-6 start.
Where do they go from here?
Ryan Donato made the scoreline uglier on a breakaway in the third but the game was over long before that. It’s not just that the Montreal Canadiens are losing. It’s the way in which they’re losing that is so worrying for the fanbase and the decision makers at the club. The Habs have been blown out in four of their first six games. The defensive pairings and forward lines have been mixed and matched with little success. The special teams have been a disaster with last night being the first game the Canadiens haven’t conceded a goal on the penalty kill. Worst of all, they play like a defeated team as soon as things go wrong.
Getting out of town was supposed to be good for the team. Captain Shea Weber’s presence was supposed to improve the mood around the dressing room. The victory over Detroit was supposed to be a step in the right direction. Instead, the Habs have taken two steps back into the twilight zone. And the question once again is why?
The playoffs are already gone for the Montreal Canadiens. And it isn’t November yet.
The Space Needle and the damage done.