The statistics, with
7 6 games still to go, speak for themselves:
- Habs have been involved in
1617 shutouts this season (8 SOF & 89 SOA), a franchise high since 1963-64 when Charlie Hodge and Gump Worsley manned the nets.
89 shutouts against (3rd most in league) is 2ndtied for highest in franchise history. They were shut out 9 times on five occasions, most recently in 2000-01 when their 70 pts was good enough for 11th in the Eastern Conference. Before that, hadn’t happened since 1953-54.
- Their 16 losses by 3 or more goals is 5th most in the league. Only 3 teams in top 15 of this category sit in a playoff position (#6 Ducks, #11 Lightning).
- They have been involved in 28 games decided by 3 or more goals. Only Minnesota and Edmonton have 29 (and neither are in playoff contention).
- Their 12 losses by 1 goal (5 regulation, 7 OT/SO) is the fewest in the league.
- Their 8 shutouts for is the team’s highest total since 1976-77 (Dryden, Laraque).
What do these stats tell me? That when the Habs are in it, they are in it- they compete, and they do respectably well. But when they decide to take their foot off the gas pedal, they don’t just ease off, they transfer it to the breaks, with full force.
Is this is an indication of players picking their spots? Of an older and injured lineup licking their wounds and choosing to battle another day? Of a coaching staff that cannot inspire the team when they start to slip? Of a group that rides and slides on emotion more than skill?
I don’t have the answers. I do have some suspicions though, and they tell me that this group of players, while both capable and tight in the locker room, may not be the ideal mix for taking it to the next level. And certainly not when they give up the first goal (12-23-2). Is another spark-plug player the answer? Is a new assistant or head coach? Is a semi-regular locker-room tirade by Knuckles Nilan the way to go? (That last one certainly couldn’t hurt.) We shall see. But in the meantime, let’s keep the above in mind when we hit our highs and lows with this edition of the Habs.