Canadiens-Senators: Inconsistency Nipping at Montreal's Heels

Matt EichelSenior Writer IJanuary 19, 2009

The 3-1 and 4-2 leads weren't enough to put away the cellar-dwelling Ottawa Senators. Sound scary?

It took a shootout to put the Sens, and their dark, newly made sweaters with no logo, down for the count.

What about the league-leading San Jose Sharks?  

Could the Habs come back against Joe Thornton, Evgeni Nabokov, and their high-octane offense?

Granted, Carey Price's absence is a big key to why the Canadiens collapsed so suddenly and so late in a game that was under their control from the get-go.  After an early five-on-three with both Jason Spezza and Daniel Alfredsson in the box, the Canadiens cashed in and carried the momentum until the last nine minutes of the contest.

Two-goal leads, some defensive mistakes, and two goals later and the Canadiens are back to square one, perhaps squandering a point or two.

Any team that wants to become a contender has to learn how to put their foot on the throat of their victim and not let up.

Montreal has had problems, in patches, where they cannot finish their victims.

The arrival of Price along with the imminent returns of both Saku Koivu and Chris Higgins may give the Canadiens more of a fighting chance of putting the choke hold on their victims easier.

Koivu's effort is 110 percent every night and Higgins is a responsible two-way player who has yet to find his true scoring touch.

Yet, even with the Koivu/Higgins/Price/Mathieu Dandenault-less Canadiens going 12-1-2 since Koivu's injury, the lineup has shown more maturity and resilience than most teams with this many serious injuries.

From newcomer Robert Lang to backup netminder Jaroslav Halak, the Canadiens have shown the NHL that they can compete each and every night. But the inconsistencies still linger, as with any team.  In the last few years, these inconsistencies have been the Achilles' heel of the Canadiens.

Last year's playoffs saw inconsistencies almost cost them a first-round exit.  Further inconsistencies in the second round cost them a trip to meet the Pittsburgh Penguins in the Conference Finals.

With more maturity and experience along with leadership, this year the Canadiens have overcome many inconsistencies and injuries better than many teams of the past. But can they overcome these inconsistencies when they need to the most?


Matt Eichel is the Community Leader for the Montreal Canadiens here on Bleacher Report.  Matt also co-hosts Habs All Out Radio, a in-depth talk radio show devoted to all things Montreal Canadiens.  It airs weekly at and is hosted by Matt and Miah D.