The Engels Angle: Bad to Worse, Habs lose 6th-straight
PK Subban hangs his head as he leaves the ice, following a 2-1 loss to the Florida Panthers (Oct. 24, 2011) THE CANADIAN PRESS/Paul Chiasson
By Eric Engels
Published Tuesday, October 25, 2011 12:22PM EDT
Last Updated Saturday, May 19, 2012 6:22AM EDT
MONTREAL - It doesn't matter that it was 2-1 to the Florida Panthers.
There are no easy games in the parity of today's NHL, but it seems as if all of Montreal's are entirely too difficult.
I wish I could serve as a rational balance to the panic that's ensuing in Montreal, but there's no sugar-coating this situation.
Regardless of the effort, the emotion they've invested, the result is still a dramatic losing record.
As I wrote yesterday, they all share in the blame and together, they hold the keys to the solution.
That may not be the case beyond this weekend, with the Canadiens set to play back-to-back games in Philadelphia and Boston before welcoming the Bruins to the Bell Centre Saturday, to cap off the team's most disastrous start to the season since 1941.
Are Pierre Gauthier and Jacques Martin on the hotseat? You better believe it.
Are there primary/other players on the team that could be susceptible to trade? Absolutely.
It's up to all of them, but...
Inevitably, there are a few among them that can salvage the team from impending doom.
Primarily, when Carey Price regains his position in front of Montreal's net, he'll be forced to come up with the very best he has to offer. That means being even better than what people expect of him.
As it stands, the defence core in front of Price has failed to find a level of consistency that would alleviate the type of pressure he now faces.
Brian Gionta is the captain of this team. If he can't find a way to produce--regardless of who he's playing with--they will continue to struggle.
Tomas Plekanec is no longer the underrated, best-kept secret in Montreal. He's a $5 million player on year two of a six-year contract. He's being paid to lead the team offensively, as well as to be the most reliable centreman in the defensive zone, as it pertains to coverage and obtaining puck-possession by winning faceoffs.
P.K. Subban might be young, but that doesn't change the fact that he's already proven capable of anchoring this blue line. That's the role he's currently entrusted with, and if he can't find a way to manufacture offence while remaining defensively sound, this team is in grave danger of losing more and more.
Don't buy the hype
Having been around the Canadiens as a reporter for several years I know that at times like these certain stories about dressing room dysfunction and conflict within the front office pop out of the woodwork.
These "stories" are often manufactured, based on someone's convoluted perspective, or information received from some third party that isn't nearly as connected to the team as they may boast.
It's all too easy to create these perceptions under the current circumstances the Canadiens are living.
This isn't the time for conspiracies, it's the time for hard-questions to be asked, and for solutions to be found.
I'll spare you the argument that this team has proven over the last two seasons that they can handle injuries to primary players, and that they can be surprisingly successful under those circumstances.
This isn't last year's team, nor is it the same one that went to the conference finals two years ago.
But they still have many of the same components, and they do have the experience to deal with this situation.
There's no minimizing Pacioretty's loss. He's been the team's most important cog thus far, but that said, they've lost seven of eight games.
It is completely disheartening to know that he likely won't be available to take part in the team's first two games against the Bruins this year.
Before the season started, he tweeted the following to me regarding his excitement for this week's games: "I am looking forward to it! Def have those dates circled on my calendar #cantwait."
In the meantime, Alexei Emelin practised as a forward today on the fourth line, with Moen moving to a line with Plekanec and Gionta, Cammalleri in Pacioretty's spot next to Cole and Dehsarnais, and Eller with Kostitsyn and Darche.