I'm not bragging or anything; I'm just reasonably sure if the opportunity presented itself, I would be able to notch a couple of points in my win column, courtesy of the Habs. I can hardly skate and I'm positive I'd be able to edge them out.
To be honest, I think just about anyone can take the Canadiens right now, even my grandmother. And she's dead. She's been dead a good nine years now, but then, the Habs have been pretty lifeless for the last nine games. It's actually more like 19 but who's counting?
I know you're saying to yourself, "Tim, how can you say that? That's your grandmother you're taking about!"
See, the thing is, my Nana was a tough ol' bird. Smoking two packs a day and washing down the tobacco with a couple of shots a vodka made her that way. Unfortunately, the same can't be said for Carey Price who, if the blogs are to be believed, is following the same regime.
Regardless, my Nana took no guff and that's a trait that she passed on to all her kids and her grand kids. I don't suffer fools gladly. I am, however, suffering at the hands of the Habs but hey, which Habs fan isn't these days, right?
So, with a take no prisoners approach and my street hockey days a good fifty pounds behind me, I'm confident I would own the Canadiens on the ice because they take the guff.
That is really what's at the heart of this team's decline into postseason obscurity, and it started way back in November when Mike Komisarek took a beat down at the hands of Milan Lucic or, as I like to call him, Lurch.
Nothing against Lucic personally; he's a helluva' player. Not only does he like to get in to the thick of the rough stuff, he also knows how to score goals. It's an effective combination and one of the reasons the Boston Bruins are tops in the East.
Lucic, however, took out Komisarek during a fight on Nov. 13. He suffered a shoulder injury which kept the rough and tumble defenceman out of the lineup for several long weeks.
So, what kind of retribution did the Canadiens impose? Not a thing. There was no pound of flesh exacted on Lucic or any other Bruin. No one even thumbed their nose at Lucic, letting the big man continue to do what he does.
I'm not calling on the Canadiens to go all Todd Bertuzzi on any one. God forbid. The league doesn't need any more nonsense like that. What should have happened, though, was Georges Laraque should have been given a little more ice time; the team should've played a little rougher; the guys should have made it known—you hit us, we'll hit back.
It didn't happen, not in the game against the Bruins in November or any of the games thereafter. And every team in the East (and a couple in the West) took notice. In a centennial year, when all eyes are on the Canadiens, opposing teams are going in with something to prove. The mentality is, "We're just as good as the Habs and we'll prove it." And they have. Time and time again, all season long.
The Montreal Canadiens is a team with little fight, with no fire burning in the belly. This is a team that has been horribly outshot in just about every game they've played because burly forwards know they can barrel through the lines with little to no resistance and slip one past a flailing Price.
This is why the Habs are struggling to hold on to fifth place, desperate just to make the playoffs at this point. The Stanley Cup isn't even on the radar.
That's why I know I could take this team. I could run roughshod over the Canadiens because unlike them, I want it more. Who wouldn't welcome the opportunity to have their name etched into the sterling silver of the Cup?
If the Canadiens wanted it more, they would've been able to beat the New York Islanders on Thursday night, the worst team in the NHL. They would be the ones to run roughshod over the Atlanta Thrashers, the Buffalo Sabres, the Pittsburgh Penguins, and the Washington Capitals. They would be the ones making sure there is a price to pay for hurting their players. They would fending off attackers instead of scrambling to place a ladder at the base of the Eastern Conference castle wall, praying hot oil doesn't come pouring down on top of them.
They would be making my Nana proud.