Tuesday, October 27, 2015

Montreal Win Streak Bites the Dust in Vancouver

The Montreal Canadiens bid to tie the NHL record for consecutive wins to start a season has fallen short by one.

By the time Ryan Miller pulled the above highway robbery in the second period on David Desharnais (see video above), it was becoming apparent that it wouldn't be Les Habitants night in Vancouver Tuesday night. In the end, the Canucks ended Montreal's brilliant start to the season by snapping their own run of futility at home. Vancouver avoided notching the franchise's longest home losing streak to start a season by winning for the first time in six home games, 5-1, behind a pair of goals by Jared McCann and 26 saves from Ryan Miller.

Though the Canadiens didn't match the NHL record for most consecutive wins to start a season, they will come away with the most consecutive wins in regulation (9)--something that the '93-94 Leafs and the '06-'07 Sabres didn't do when they each reeled off ten consecutive wins to start seasons. The '93-94 Leafs needed OT in their 8th game, and the '06-07 Sabres won in shootouts in three of their first four games.

After the game, Montreal players showed little disappointment in not reaching the record. And why should they? Both the '93-94 Leafs and the '06-'07 Sabres ended up falling in the Conference Finals in the years that they pulled of their ten-game streaks--surely Montreal has higher hopes for itself, and realizes that the first ten games of the season have little impact on what happens in April, May and June.

"Other people talked about it, we didn't," Habs captain Max Pacioretty said of the streak. "We've gotten off to a great start this year. We're not happy. You're only as good as your last game, and we weren't very good tonight."

"Yeah I think this is maybe what we needed," quipped Montreal winger Brendan Gallagher. "Everyone was telling us how good we are. Maybe we have to understand that it's still gonna take work. It's still a process, you have to stick with it and continue to get better. We took a step back tonight but that doesn't mean we'll have any trouble refocussing and getting ready for the next one."

Montreal will head to Edmonton to play the 3-7 Oilers on Thursday. They still lead the NHL in wins, points, goals for and goal differential, and they've still yet to lose at home. There's a lot to like about what Montreal has done in the first ten games. The challenge will be to continue to improve, as Gallagher said, and to find away to be a better team than they are now come playoffs. If they can do that, watch out NHL.