Monday, November 3, 2008

The Bi-Polar Habs

This is the weirdest season so far. The team looks fantastic in the standings, and very often like crap on the ice. They float for periods at a time, but they still win. They play a game or two, then they're off for a week. I know every year is compared to a roller-coaster ride, but this one is like the Six Flags Great Adventure.

I know I'm sounding alarmist with these doomsday posts, but if there's one basic truth in physics, it's that what goes up must come down. I guess the reverse of that happened on Saturday, when the Habs' precipitous drop in interest and effort in the first two periods was replaced by awesome-to-behold passion and firepower in the third. But even with seventeen of a possible twenty points in the bank, you have to wonder when the laws of nature will assert themselves and the team that's been racking up half-hearted wins will start to see heart-breaking losses on the scoreboard instead.

Don't get me wrong...I loved the Islanders' game. Hockey's entertainment, right? Right. And it was bloody well entertaining to watch a game you thought was certainly an ignominous loss become a humdinger come-from-behind powerhouse victory. Watching the Plekanec line emerge from its torpor to light the rink on fire was pure adrenaline-pumping thrilling. But when the dust settled, and the glory of the victory faded to a pale golden glow, the nagging worries are still there.

The team was 0-for-5 on the PP, and gave up two goals on the Isles seven man advantages. Worse, they were a really weak 37% on the draw. As Kovalev said after the game, they were lucky they were playing the Isles and not a team like the Devils. They should have been killed in that game, and would have been if the Islanders had had more experience holding a lead and a better goalie in the net. As a Habs' fan, you can't help wondering what another five-day break will do to the fragile momentum that brilliant twelve minutes in New York sparked on Saturday. Staggering out of the blocks on Friday could mean a couple of losses in a little more than 24 hours, if they're not very careful to be disciplined and come up with a better all-around effort than they've shown in many games this year. There's no doubt the talent is there...it's the will and attention to hard work and detail that seem at issue right now.

You know, even though the Islanders' game was a great outcome for a team that didn't really deserve two points, I thought at the time it might have been better if the Habs had lost that one. They seem to be leading a bit of a charmed life when it comes to winning games without really functioning at full capacity, which can make a team feel like it's pretty invincible even when it's not playing great. Then I thought, no, they'd better steal whatever points they can now because the roller coaster will certainly head for a plunge at some point and when that happens it's better to have "lucky" points in the banks to cushion the fall. One way or another, lessons will be learned. I just wish the team would learn them while things are going undeservedly well.

1 comment:

Phoff said...

Although, like you, I'm fairly certain that the Habs' winning percentage will drop, I'm seeing more of an upside to this "roller-coaster" ride.

Sure, one can look at the future and think that the team will keep playing this way and that they will not keep stealing wins away so easily.

What is just as plausible, however, is that the team begins playing they way we know they can and start deserving wins instead of "sneaking past the bouncers", as they seem to have done on more than one occasion this year.

If Pleks' line starts firing, if Higgins gets his timing right and if Marky adjusts his scope, this team could be tops in the league.

Just lile you see the fact that the Habs' were 0-for-5 on the PP as a bad thing, I see it as a good thing because this team has had such a hard time generating points 5-on-5 in the past.

THen again, I've always been a glass-half-full kind of guy.