The Canadiens' first quarter of the season.
We are about to complete the first quarter of this 2008-2009 season in the NHL. Some teams have risen up since last season while some are having big problems.
The New-Jersey Devils and the Vancouver Canucks for example should have a hard time in the coming weeks. Both teams have lost their star goaltender because of injuries and those teams are now vulnerable. The Canucks have a bit more offensive firepower and could go through these difficult times a little better than the Devils.
For the Montreal Canadiens, the 100th season of the club started with an irresistible string of victories as they picked up 18 points on a possible 24 during the first twelve games of the season. But the team's performances declined dramatically since that point.
Yesterday's match between the New York Islanders and the Montreal Canadiens was a good indicator of how the Canadiens are playing these last weeks. With a two goals lead under five minutes to play, defense men Ryan O'Byrne committed a huge mistake when he pushed the puck in his very own net during a delayed penalty to the Islanders.
The young defensemen didn't need to act at all. The referee would've stopped the play as soon a New York player touch the puck. But the young defense men decided to push the puck away from his opponent and pushed it inside his own net who was vacated by Carey Price in favor of a sixth skater.
O'Byrne's latest brain freeze allowed the Isles to tie up the game and eventually fly out of Montreal with a 4-3 victory after the shootout session.
The slide of the Canadiens as of late is not the responsibility of a single player in the roster. The whole team is playing sloppy as of late. The offensive line composed of Alex Kovalev, Tomas Plekanec and Andrei Kostitsyn is having all kinds of trouble finding it's marks and the Canadiens' power play (who went from No. 1 last year to No.25 this season) is pitiful at best.
The team record after 20 games (11-5-4) is still good enough for the fifth place in the Eastern conference. For the general manager and coaching staff, it is not the time to push the panic button. But there is work to be done to put the train back on it's rails.
Will the General Manager Bob Gainey be active on the market or will he try to find a solution within the organization?
(Picture: Ryan O'Byrne, Canadian Press.)