The Montreal Canadiens have been making all sorts of waves as of late, but Friday’s performance at the Honda Center was something else.
The Habs faced off against the Anaheim Ducks and were already looking down the barrel of another loss – their seventh straight – when they allowed three goals in 97 seconds of the third period. Montreal lost to Anaheim’s depleted roster by a final score of 6-2 when it was all said and done.
And now, eight games into the 2017-2018 season, the Canadiens find themselves dead last in the Eastern Conference. They’re 1-6-1, which means they haven’t won a game since the season opener against the Sabres. They’ve scored just 13 goals. On their California road trip, they were outscored 16-5 in regulation losses to the Ducks, Kings and Sharks.
Things can get worse, believe it or not.
The Habs’ worst start in franchise history was a 1-10-1 run in 1941-1942. They saw a nine-game losing streak from December 16 of 1939 to January 6 of 1940, while the longest losing streak in franchise history is a dozen game doozy from 1926.
That may not be comforting news.
The surging, dominant Toronto Maple Leafs aren’t helping, with their exploits sticking them near the top of the NHL. By contrast, the blue-and-white have scored 34 goals and allowed 22 goals against. The porous Canadiens have allowed 33 goals against, for the record.
Montreal goalie Carey Price is 1-5-1, with a 3.94 goals against average and a .881 save percentage.
The cracks, as they say, have been exposed. Again.
Expectations were high for the Canadiens this season, as they have been for every season in recent memory. But it is hard to imagine a time in recent memory when things have looked this dire in Montreal, when the holes have been so apparent. The loss of Andrei Markov does sting, as does the departure of Alexander Radulov.
There may have been a glimmer of something on Friday, though. The Habs picked up 30 shots on goal in the middle frame, cruising to a franchise record and pulling the game close for a spell by scoring two goals on John Gibson. The pace was sturdy and the team looked slick.
Maybe that small moment, evaporated by 97 seconds in the third period, can mean something in the long run. Maybe that surging second period can signify some sort of glimmer of hope, some sign that things don’t have to be this bad for so long.
Or maybe it’s going to even get worse before it’s over.