I’m guessing that Canadiens’ head coach Guy Carbonneau is not going to give his players a day off from the rink upon their arrival in Ottawa.
That’s what Carbonneau did when the Habs arrived in Carolina Sunday night, ahead of tonight’s game against the Hurricaines. In the “good cop, bad cop” world of Guy Carbonneau, the coach decided to play good cop, and reward his players with a day away from the rink, following their 3-2 win in St. Louis.
Some of the players golfed. Others went to the movies. Still others went to the mall. And then they went out and dropped a 2-1 decision to the ‘Caines tonight, before boarding a flight to Ottawa for their next game, Saturday night, against a struggling Sens team that has lost five straight.
The decision by Carbonneau to “reward” his players for the two points they earned in St. Louis was the right one, in my books. It was an ugly win, but it was a win nonetheless. It gave The Coach a chance to pat this fragile team on the back, in an effort to help these players regain the confidence that has mysteriously deserted them.
Another loss, this one to an average Carolina team struggling in the month of November. Yes, there was a power play goal, finally, by Robert Lang, that gave the Canadiens a 1-0 lead early in the second period. Say what you want about Robert Lang being a poor-mans’ Mats Sundin, Lang has six goals to his credit and is giving the Canadiens exactly what they bargained for when they obtained the former Chicago Black Hawk.
However, instead of building on that lead going into the third period, the Canadiens were left flat-footed by a Carolina team that came in waves. Sergei Samsonov decided to score his first of the season, against his former teammates, at 3:06 of the third period, turning defenceman Ryan O’Byrne inside out in the process. Then, with O’Byrne in the penalty box, Ray Whitney scored the winner some three minutes later.
The Canadiens then proceeded to fold their tents, failing to show any of the desperation you’d expect from a team that has now lost five of its last seven games; a team that has scored five regulation goals in its last four games.
This isn’t a Canadiens’ team playing on an ice surface. This is a Canadiens’ team playing on egg shells.
They don’t pay me to “know why”. The guy they pay to “know why” is the guy who rewarded his players with a day off following a win in St. Louis, and was himself rewarded with another uninspired performance by his team against Carolina.
Yup, I’m thinking there won’t be any trips to the mall for the Habs before their game against the Senators.