When a team has the kind of great playoff run the Habs had last season, that team can get a little bit arrogant. After all, when you've taken down the best team in the league, as well as the defending Stanley Cup champs, you start to build some street cred. You're suddenly not the "scraped into eighth place AGAIN" Canadiens. You're a little bit like your dad's Canadiens; the ones who used to run through the playoffs like Usain Bolt runs through the 100 metres.
Unfortunately, the arrogance inherent in redefining a team that way tends to blind it to the reality that the NHL is actually a house league. Any team can win on any given night, and expecting a lower-ranked team to fall at your feet can only lead to trouble.
That's what happened last night. The Canadiens went into that game thinking the Oilers were a team of rookies with the worst PK in the league, ranking around the bottom of the standings. They figured, when they popped a couple of PP goals, that the Oilers were living down to their reputation. They got a two-goal lead and they let down.
The problem with doing that against a young, inexperienced team is that they don't know they can't win. They're enthusiastic and they still believe anything is possible. Giving them the smell of blood in the water by giving up that horrid short-handed goal (thanks again, refs for completely failing to call the trip on Cammalleri) should have been a wake up call. The Oilers, at that point, believed they could win. The Canadiens, unfortunately, thought they could still control the action.
The Oilers' speedy young players, who had an advantage against the Canadiens' slow defence, piled on the pressure and the Habs didn't respond. The giveaway by Cammalleri that led to the winner was typical of the entire game. He thought he could chip it ahead and make a cutesy play up to a teammate. It got intercepted and everyone was caught because the Oilers were turning the transition game faster than the Habs' D could handle it.
A lot of people will dump on Subban for his error in throwing himself at the puck on the short-handed tying goal. They'll swear at him for his lousy pass to Cammalleri on the winner. But they forget, most rookies make those kinds of plays two games out of three. The fact that we're at game 25 and we can count on one hand the number of times Subban has cost his team is remarkable. Nobody should crap on him except his coach.
Price was brilliant again. None of the blame should fall on his doorstep. Except for the Fraser long shot on the PP, which was arguable, he gave up goals on scrambles when the D should have removed the shooter, and on odd-man rushes.
Again, the lack of finish is hurting the team. They had tons of chances and didn't complete the plays. If Markov is out for the year and a deadline deal is in the works, it should maybe be a scoring winger. The centres can make the plays, but nobody is finishing. The D could use help, but the forwards need it more.
In the end, the Canadiens should have learned a lesson in that game. That is, nobody can be taken lightly, and every team, every night, has a chance to win. The Habs thought they could bank the two points without any worry. They played the Oilers light, and the Oilers took advantage. Now the Habs have to hope the Devils do the same thing to them.