That is what I said after the Habs went up 3-0 last night against the Flames. When they went up 4-0, I went online and found this clip:
That was in preparation of today's blog post. Because I KNEW the Habs would sit back and play their putrid brand of defense. To no one's surprise, the Flames scored two second-period goals, one coming at the tail-end of the period, when the Habs went into one of their patented end-of-period comas.
That was no surprise. What was surprising was just how badly the Habs started the third period. Passes went right to Flames sticks, breakouts were horrendous (if what we saw could even be called breakouts), and to a man, the Habs played worse than any beer-league team I've ever seen.
And then something happened: when the Flames tied it up, The Habs started passing. They started shooting. They broke out well. They played professional-quality hockey.
Last night was the perfect exhibition of what is right and wrong with the Montreal Canadiens. When they need to score, they play well. When they think they have a lead, they play some of the worst hockey you'll ever see in your life. And yet we see this all the time: against the Rangers on Saturday, they completely dominated, until they had a two-goal lead. Then they sat back and almost threw it all away.
Back in late December, Montreal was demolishing the Hurricanes, only to hang on for dear life as they let Carolina come at them at the end of the 3rd period.
So what needs to be done? Jacques Martin MUST stop pulling the reins when Montreal has a lead. It may be counter-intuitive, but defending a lead simply doesn't work for this team. Martin needs to subscribe to the theory that the best defense is a good offense. This is a team built on speed, transition, and scoring. This team is NOT the circa 2000 New Jersey Devils.
So, on behalf of all Montreal Canadiens fan, I say:
PUH-LEEZE STOP trying to sit back on leads. You are no damn good at it. Either start pressing your advantage, or start actually practicing defending leads. We're sick of what we're seeing, and it must stop. Our hearts can't take much more of this.
All of us