Have a friend who attended Thursday’s Sharks-Canadian game? He came back broke after investing $150 for this anthology piece? Remind him that he is complaining on a full stomach.
Think about it: in one evening, he saw a goalkeeper at number 29 stop almost everything in front of him with Olympian calm, without giving feedback. It was definitely Ken Dryden who found himself a time machine.
He also saw this defender who scored after mystifying the Montreal defense. We noted that he was number 83, but perhaps our eyes deceived us: it was Al Iafrate’s number 33.
And the sniper at number 20 who snuck into the slot to beat Samuel Montembeault, before heroically throwing himself in front of a shot from Mike Matheson at the end of the game? Hats off to Dino Ciccarelli, who doesn’t look his 63 years old.
Frankly, did the Canadian even have a chance against this all-star team from all eras that arrived at the Bell Centre?
The informed reader will have noted here that we are kidding, that it was rather the combined efforts of Mackenzie Blackwood, Nikita Okhotiuk and Fabian Zetterlund which allowed the San José Sharks to end their streak of 12 consecutive defeats. The Habs lost 3-2, in a match where the most patient spectators were rewarded, because the first 55 minutes of this duel resembled a long moment of silence for the late Ed Broadbent.
The players were walking on eggshells after the match. The Sharks may form, statistically, the worst team in the NHL of the last 20 years, but there is nevertheless respect for the opposing clan, for players who, overall, have their place in the NHL.
“Sometimes I get asked if I look at the rankings. I do not do it. I never come into a match saying that I can have a B quality match tonight,” said defender Mike Matheson, one of the most valiant of the Habs in this duel.
The contrast was striking with the first weeks of the season, when the CH took advantage of the duels against the lower ranking teams to collect points and were corrected by the Kings, the Canucks and the Panthers.
“There are no easy matches in the league, no one is going to give us two points,” recalled Martin St-Louis.
Like last year, the Habs conclude their first half of the season on a false note. On January 9, 2023, the team lost 4-0 at home to Seattle, posting a 16-22-3 record.
In this regard, this first half of the season certainly marks an improvement, although timid, with a record of 17-18-6.
The brake on progress was not only collective; several elements which showed progress also experienced sluggish periods. Nick Suzuki’s trio, which carried the team for part of the month of December, was even less incisive. Casually, since Dallas’ return, this unit has been beaten 0-3 in goals scored at five-on-five, according to Natural Stat Trick.
Jayden Struble, THE surprise of the year in Montreal so far, started the match with an unusual blunder at home, which allowed the Sharks to open the scoring. Struble then almost gave the visitors an escape by advancing a little too far into the opposing zone when his partner, Jordan Harris, was also compromised. He had some defensive successes afterwards, but overall his play was not as confident as usual.
If the Canadian needs big names to put out his best performances, it shouldn’t be too complicated in the next two games, against the Oilers and the Avalanche. But weaker opponents will follow, and in any case, consistency is the unit that will measure the real progress of this group. Not the standings, not a playoff appearance – Jeff Gorton’s famous “P” word at the start of the season. The constancy.
This is the watchword for the second half of the season. A challenge that promises to be tough, especially if the information from TSN regarding the very real possibility that Sean Monahan will be traded in the coming weeks materializes.
“You have to grow up,” insisted Brendan Gallagher. We have stayed around .500 since the start of the season. If you want to play matches that count at the end of the season, you have to start putting together some victories, stopping the ups and downs. You have to make this constant effort. When it starts, it’s hard to stop. We have it in us, we just have to do it consistently. »