Forward lines and defense pairings:
Pacioretty – Plekanec – Gallagher
Andrighetto – Galchenyuk – Carr
Eller – Desharnais – Byron
Flynn – Mitchell – Smith-Pelly
Beaulieu – Pateryn
Barberio – Emelin
Scratches: Jarred Tinordi, Tomas Fleischmann, Jeff Petry
Injured reserve: Carey Price, Tom Gilbert, Dale Weise
Canadiens fans are trying to figure out how, in a short period of time, they have gone from talking about their team’s chances of winning the President’s Trophy to whether they will make the playoffs.
Following the loss against the Penguins, the Canadiens have 49 points good enough for sixth place in the Eastern Conference. The Boston Bruins are just two points behind with three games in hand. Should Montreal fall behind the Bruins, they become a wild card team. With a slate of quality teams on the schedule for the Canadiens leading up to the All-Star break, will the conversation switch to fighting to capture a playoff position?
Mike Condon had another solid start doing all he could to keep his team in the game. Beyond Condon, there wasn’t much for Marc Bergevin to be proud of, from the product on the ice to the crew behind the bench. And with the Canadiens not playing until Thursday all eyes will be on the general manager to see if he makes a major move to stop the bleeding.
And before you say that Bergevin will stick to the plan and be patient, keep in mind that he reports to Geoff Molson. My sense is that if the losing skid had occurred primarily at the Bell Centre rather than mostly on the road that a move would have been made already, whether or not it was initiated by Bergevin.
Post-game some fans found themselves getting bogged down in discussing the minutia of a defenceman chasing a hit or a bad pass with 15 seconds left. But the truth is that the problems are much deeper. There are serious issues facing this team that may not be solved by the return of a certain number 31 to the lineup.
Some have suggested that the coach has lost the room. And it would appear that divisions are appearing in the leadership. It was hard to miss Max Pacioretty’s disapproving look during P.K. Subban’s profanity-laced team introduction featured on the Road to the Winter Classic. That same look was cast again in Subban’s direction when the defenceman exploded after tonight’s game.
The conversations that happened at the beginning of the season won’t be back this year. This situation is not temporary nor injury-related. Nor will it be fixed by the return of the Canadiens best player.
It’s one thing to coach or manage a team in good times. But the measure of just where Therrien and Bergevin rank is revealed during times of adversity. So far they are earning a failing grade.
The Canadiens await the Chicago Blackhawks who will arrive for a date at the Bell Centre on Thursday.
▲ P.K. Subban, Mike Condon, Tomas Plekanec, Paul Byron, Brendan Gallagher, Lars Eller
▼ Greg Pateryn, Nathan Beaulieu, Devante Smith-Pelly, Max Pacioretty, Torrey Mitchell