February 09 2009 11:03AM
It's the Blurst of times for the Canadiens and Flames right now. Calgary has just finished losing 4 straight for the first time this season, sullying many of the sky-high expectations they had built over the prior two months. The Canadiens, on the other hand, have won just two of their last nine, including blow-out defeats at the hands of the Toronto Maple Leafs (5-2), Florida Panthers (5-1), Atlanta Thrashers (4-2) and Tampa Bay Lightning (5-3). Their dreams of winning the Conference are all but dead.
Im sure a lot of Montreal fans are surprised and disappointed by their clubs relatively lackluster results, especially in light of all their success last season - but Im not. The Canadiens were the Boston Bruins of 07/08: all the coins landed on heads for them. Kovalev, Plekanec, Streit, Markov, Andrei Kostitsyn and Chris Higgins all set career (or near career) bests. They also got well above average goaltending from both Price and Huet. To say nothing of that incredible PP.
The percentages have swung back on Les Habitants this season though. Kovalev looks like a disinterested floater again now that the pucks aren't going in, while Plekanec is proving he really isn't a 30 goal scorer. Streit is gone, Higgins is hurt all the time. The club has also suffered from long-term injuries to Tanguay, Koivu, Price, Komisarek and recently the resurgent Robert Lang, which certainly hasn't helped.
With the hurt and the bounces going the wrong way, an ugly fact is becoming crystal clear for the Habs faithful: their team is average. At best. They routinely get outshot at ES and they don't have an out-of-this-world PP making up the difference this year. Their roster is fast and sneaky, but rather soft (aside from Big Georges) and not terribly good at moving the puck in the right direction.
Montreal won the last meeting between the two teams in December, 4-1. If they win this one on Dome ice, we'll know the Flames are in the throes of something fairly ugly here...