Based on the past few performances, especially vs. the Hawks and the Leafs, I cannot provide you with an answer. Sidney Crosby, Pavel Datsyuk, and Alex Ovechkin are, evidently enough, no joke, especially when you look at our team and can’t even remotely compare any of our forwards to these guys. Despite this, I wouldn’t be surprised if we managed to pull off three wins in a row, or at least two wins and an overtime loss. I would like to argue that the Montreal Canadiens are notorious for matching their opponent’s level of play. Are they actually regressing or elevating to their competition? Probably not, because that’s not how it works in professional sports. I couldn’t help but see it happen several times throughout the season already. Look at the team’s performance against the reigning Stanley Cup champions, vs. that against the dismal Florida Panthers, a team that could only dream of making the playoffs (although if Toronto can, then hey, why not them?)
The parity between the teams in the league is a factor that should be taken into consideration. From now until the end of the season, the 15th placed team in the East (well would you look at that, the Florida Panthers!) is only eight points away from being in a playoff position. The landscape in the East can change within a blink of the eye: a couple of losses here, a couple of wins there, and BAM, team number 5 could find itself seated 11th in their conference in no time
The Habs, despite their inconsistent performances as of late, are still 4th, and that hasn’t changed… yet. The New York Rangers are only two points behind us, but thankfully, we have two games in hand on Alain Vigneault’s team. And while I’m giving thanks, let me give a big thank you to the Montreal Canadiens of what seems like so long ago (I can’t help but get caught up in the mindset of Montreal Canadiens’ fan) for having collected enough points to sustain them for a foreseeable slump. Those were the good ol’ days…
Wait a second, should I really be calling this a slump? In the last ten games, we’ve won four games and lost six match-ups (it sounds better if you qualify two of those losses in overtime). The team’s unsteady play, and their inability to sustain a lead, no matter how big it may be, is certainly alarming.
I brought up this notion of consistency briefly in my article on Michel Therrien. I sometimes feel like the Montreal Canadiens are constantly building, demolishing, and re-building. My confidence in Marc Bergevin‘s vision is stable, but I would be lying if I didn’t add that it waxes and wanes from time to time. That being said, the Habs have a team relatively consistent enough to make the playoffs, but the playoffs is a whole different story; you may as well forget about the regular season, because it doesn’t matter who finished first or last, it’s anyone’s game to win or to lose.
Maybe our team is inconsistent because of external forces, like the parity in the league. In my mind, I can’t help but question the talent on the team. On the back end, I’m not so concerned. P.K. Subban and Carey Price shine bright, just like Crosby, Datsyuk, and Ovechkin… except the two Habs players I just mentioned aren’t forwards. I can’t compare any our forwards to these stars, as I mentioned earlier. Perhaps in the future, we will have some of our younger players flourish into legitimate NHL stars (I am pinning my hopes on Alex Galchenyuk and maybe even Brendan Gallagher). At most, I can say that our current forwards are streaky. For instance, Max Pacioretty and Lars Eller are good players who tend to go on hot streaks, but don’t produce on a relatively regular basis. You don’t ask whether if Crosby will have a point tonight, or if he will be able to win the game for the Penguins; we all know that, 95% of the time, he will. I’m still waiting on that player, who fans can count on consistently, game in and game out.
By Safia Ahmad @Saff2013