The Habs versus the Panthers featured a tired Canadiens team. But, to paraphrase George Orwell, some players were more tired than others. The young'uns were still firing late in their third game in four nights, but the older guys, including most of the top-six defencemen, were not.
This game was an anomaly. Most of the time, the Canadiens are the faster team. They're able to use their speed to force the opponent to make mistakes, and they're able to get into the offensive zone with purpose. When they're tired, they can't do that.
There wasn't a whole lot on the positive side of the ledger in this game. The Pleks line, on which the team depends, was tired. Plekanec did little to advance the play. Kostitsyn was making last-year type bad decisions. Cammalleri continued his season-long lack of focus. The Gomez line was, as usual, absent, except for Gionta's close call on the 5-on-3. The third and fourth-liners did their best, but they're third and fourth-liners.
The defence, when tired, really looks old and done. Half the D is over 35, and it really shows when games are bunched closely together. Subban was active, as was Gorges. Markov still looks like he's in practice, and questions about whether he will be the same after that injury are still unanswered.
The power play came close, but essentially, still sucks. Badly. It may improve with Markov, given a chance to work at speed, but right now it still sucks.
The highlight of the night for the Canadiens was Carey Price. He gave up three goals, but one was on a penalty shot and the other two off brutal rebounds. He was sharp and gave his team every chance to come back and tie the game. This is a really good goalie, and he's 23. When he's 25, he could be a Cup-quality goaltender.
In the end, there just wasn't enough oil in the fryer for the Habs. Sometimes, in the course of a long season with brutal travel and a tight schedule, it happens.