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The Upper Canadien

Third period relapse: what’s going on in Montreal?

So the Canadiens got a win Tuesday night, 4-3 over the Tampa Bay Lightning, however it came in an unfortunately predictable fashion. For the third game in a row, the Habs blew a third period lead: against Boston, 1-0 turned into a 2-1 regulation loss. In Buffalo, a 4-2 lead turned into a 5-4 shootout loss, and in Tampa Bay a 3-0 lead tured into a 4-3 overtime win. The spectacular part of Tuesday's game? With 6 minutes to play, the Canadiens had a 3-0 lead.


What the heck is going on in Montreal? 

The optimist in me sees hope, as this team had a good start. You're never as good as when you're hot, and you're never as bad as when you're cold. Hopefully, this is just a bad habit that has carried over from last year, because last year, the Canadiens blew lead after lead after lead. One concern, however, is scoring: Montreal isn't doing much of it after the second period. Another concern: physicality. Are the Habs too easy to play against?

Coach Michel Therrien sold the team at the beginning of the year on the idea they'd be tough to play against. "No excuses" was the motto. I like the attitude, I like the plan, however it just isn't coming to fruition. Colby Armstrong isn't hitting, isn't scoring, isn't fighting. Travis Moen, while often a physical presence in the past, of late has seemed invisible at times. Ryan White makes a lot - and I mean a lot - of boneheaded plays.

Face it: if your tough players aren't, well, tough to play against, how are you intimidating? The Habs need some more sandpaper. Brad Staubitz was a good addition last year, he has yet to be replaced. If Armstrong isn't going to hit, and fight, then I say he should sit. I say that begrudgingly, too: I like Armstrong. I just don't feel that, at this point, he fits. 

All of that said,  I haven't even touched on Saturday's rout at the hands of the Maple Leafs. I won't get into it much - what needs to be said? - other than to note that I questioned the coaching staff leaving Price in, as he could have been injured, or angry, but I understood Therrien's logic. They win as a team and lose as a team. This was certainly the latter, but as I said earlier, when you're playing really badly, you're generally not that bad. Montreal is still learning a new system, with new, and young players. They'll get better. 

All in all, the Habs are in the midst of a culture change. It's a good thing. They just need to make sure they don't relapse. 

Speaking of change, there's a player available in the Western Conference who I think would be a very, very good addition in Montreal: Ryan O'Reilly. At 6 feet, 205 lbs, he would look good down the middle for the Habs, adding speed, size, and offence to a lineup that needs, all, all of that. What would he cost? I don't know, because I don't run the Colorado Avalanche. However, Marc Bergevin is looking to put his stamp on the team: why not start with O'Reilly, a responsible, young centre with offensive flair? I'd be dangling Lars Eller, Yannick Weber, Louis Leblanc, and draft picks. Montreal has a lot of depth. Surely they could put a package together. Wouldn't O'Reilly look good in blue, blanc et rouge? 

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About The Upper Canadien

The Upper Canadien is your one stop shop for all things Montreal Canadiens. Since the summer of 2010, I've been providing Habs related news, notes, and most importantly, opinions. As a blogger, I don't believe it's my job to report the news, it's my privilege to comment on it. You may disagree with what I suggest. In fact, you most likely will. But that's the great part about blogging: it spurs opinion, comment and engages all involved. I've really enjoyed all the debate and commentary from readers thus far and I encourage everyone to respond with ideas on lineups, trades, logos, sweaters, mascots, whatever. The Upper Canadien is a conversation for all hockey fanatics.

I've come to Kukla's Korner with four years of campus radio and three years of sportswriting from my time at Mount Allison University on Canada's East coast. Not only do I not have any professional journalistic training, after five years in the corporate world, I've spent much of the past two years completing an MBA. Business by day, hockey by night, I'm a Canadiens fan through and through. I hope you enjoy reading as much as I do writing.

Questions or comments? theuppercanadien@kuklaskorner.com