By JD Lagrange – This hockey season can’t come to an end soon enough if you’re a Montreal Canadiens’ fan. And it seems like management, coaching staff and players all feel the same way. There’s a good chance that players – those still in the lineup relatively healthy – are probably hoping to finish the season without a serious injury. Right now, and for most of the second half of the season, the team is simply not entering games in a fair or equitable battle.
You like analogies? Here’s one for you. The Canadiens are going to war with half a troop, without artillery and using old WW-1 .303 caliber bolt-action riffles. They are facing opponents with tanks, bazookas, and twice the numbers of soldiers. If you think that I’m exaggerating, you may want to keep reading.
Last night against the Detroit Red Wings, the Canadiens had 15 players out of their line-up due to injuries. The Red Wings had five players missing due to injuries. Now consider this: teams can only dress 20 players on any given night. So those 15 players represent 75% of the Canadiens’ roster being injured on one given night!
“Oh but you can’t use injuries as an excuse“, they say. Damn right you can! What kind of BS excuse is that? In a league where there is so much parity due to the salary cap, where the talent is so diluted already with 32 teams, the difference between a win and a loss IS your top players. And if you don’t have your top players and the quality depth to hold your own in this league, you will get dominated. Period.
The Canadiens shattered the NHL record for man-games lost to injuries a year ago with 720 games missed. Prior to last night’s game, they had already lost 535 man-games lost so add 15 to that and they’re sitting at 350 man-games lost. That’s top in the NHL again. In fact, no team can catch them so for a second season in a row, they will lead the league in that category. And you wonder why they’re struggling? Really?
So you want to come here and tell us that “we can’t use injuries”? Buzz off! Stop with the clichés and get with the times. The salary cap and over-expansion has helped narrow the gap between the top and bottom teams.
With all that being said, I was on Twitter last night while watching the game and I couldn’t believe the negativity from some Habs’ fans. To those, I have one question: What were your expectations entering this season?
Most fans, to start the season, had predicted the team to finish in the bottom of the standings this year. With only four games left to the season, they’re sitting in the 28th overall spot, one point back of Arizona and from the 27th overall spot. So why are people so angry and frustrated?
I personally had predicted that they would finish closer (in points) to the last playoffs’ spot than they would be to the last overall team. I was wrong. They’re 21 points from the last Wild Card and only 10 points from the bottom. My justification was that I wasn’t expecting them to be the most injured team in the NHL for a second season in a row. I figured that at some point, that string of “bad luck” had to stop, right?
I leave you with some of the comments on Twitter from last night’s game. Comments that support what I’m saying about some fans’ reaction in spite of everything written above. Personally, I join those who keep positive by chanting… Go Habs Go! I’m hoping that more of you join us, as in spite of the storm we find ourselves in, there is sunshine coming.