Montreal’s trip to Boston was supposed to give the Habs a chance to seek revenge on Zdeno Chara’s much talked about hit on Max Pacioretty. Instead, the Canadiens were given a hockey lesson as the Bruins embarrassed their hated rivals to extend their lead to five points in the Northeast Division standings after their 7-0 victory.
The Habs haven’t scored since they inflicted a 8-1 thrashing on the Minnesota Wild on Sunday and have been outscored 9-0 against the Bruins and Sabres.
Whats even worse is that the Sabres still have a chance of catching the Habs in the Eastern conference standings.
“We got behind early and took some penalties and lost some momentum that way too, and it just spiraled from there” said Habs captain Brian Gionta. “We’ve got to do a better job of finding ways to score.”
The Canadiens can stop focusing on catching the Bruins, who completely outplayed Montreal for the entire 60 minutes. Instead, a more crucial task awaits the Habs as they try to prevent from falling further in the Eastern conference standings.
Montreal has lost four out of its last six games as the impact of injuries have taken their toll. More worrying for the Canadiens is the lack of passion and committment shown in arguably their biggest game of the season.
Paul Mara did his best to provide a spark when he dropped the gloves with Gregory Campbell in the final moments of the second period, but in truth the game was over after the first period. Montreal rarely threatened Tim Thomas as both Gionta and Scott Gomez struggled to produce anything to worry the Boston defence. To sum up a dreadful night for Montreal, Campbell grabbed his second goal of the night as he outpaced Tomas Plekanec to score shorthanded while the Habs had a two-man advantage late in the third period.
Despite being down by three goals after one period, Montreal had plenty of time to turn things around. However, the Habs got into penalty trouble in the second stanza as their frustration grew, and the score could have been even worse had Boston taken full advantage of its power play opportunities.
The Canadiens need to put this result behind them quickly. With only seven games remaining, a push from the Carolina Hurricanes or even the Toronto Maple Leafs could spell disaster for the depleted Habs.
The Habs should still make the playoff cut, but they look set to enter the playoffs low on confidence and still missing some of their top players. Despite last year’s playoff heroics as underdogs – Montreal will not want to finish 8th in the Eastern Conference for the third year running.
The Canadiens may be missing a lot of their big names, but the experience of Gionta, Gomez, Mike Cammalleri and Tomas Plekanec have been below par of late. Cammalleri has only scored four times since the turn of the year, and was minus-4 against the Bruins. Plekanec, despite recording a career high 45 assists last season, hasn’t recorded an assist since Montreal beat the Bruins on March 8th.
Carey Price has helped his team battle through some tough games this season with some stellar performances. However, Price has lost his last three games and was replaced by Alex Auld after Nathan Horton made it 4-0 early in the third period.
There’s no question that the two teams could still meet in the first round of the playoffs. But based on this showing, the Canadiens will need a lot more passion and confidence if they are to stand a chance of challenging the Bruins.