Saturday, 26 March 2011

What Is "Doughnut" In French?

62 years is a long time when viewing a team's history, and there are only a few teams in the NHL that can boast that many years of service as an NHL team. Of course, when you're looking at more than fifty years of service for any franchise, there's bound to be some history made along the way. As you may be aware, not all history that is made is of the celebrated variety, so when bad things happen, your franchise has to persevere. The 1949-50 Montreal Canadiens have now been equaled by the 2010-11 Montreal Canadiens in one uncelebrated piece of history. And it has nothing to do with your local Tim Hortons restaurant, although the Canadiens have been served with items in three straight games for which Tim Hortons is famous.

In October of 1949, the Montreal Canadiens played three games spanning from October 23 to October 29. Those three games were at Boston and at home against Toronto and Detroit. Montreal's record in those three games was 0-2-1 with the tie coming against Boston on October 23. The key to these three games is that Montreal scored no goals over these three games with shutouts going to Boston's Jack Gelineau, Toronto's Turk Broda, and Detroit's Harry Lumley.

Roll the calendar forward to 2011, and the Montreal Canadiens are currently undergoing the same scoring drought that affected the team 62 years prior. From March 22 until this evening, the Canadiens have yet to dent the twine in three straight games. This time, their opponents included the Buffalo Sabres, the Washington Capitals, and the New York Rangers. Buffalo's Ryan Miller, Boston's Tim Thomas, and Washington's Braden Holtby padded their shutout statistics with the wins this time, but it left a lot of people asking what was happening with the Canadiens.

It's not like Montreal is suffering through a lack of shots on net like we saw with Edmonton on Thursday. No, Montreal fired 31 shots at Miller, 24 shots at Thomas, and 18 shots at Holtby in those three shutout losses. As the losses pile up, Montreal's concern over a playoff spot has to be growing with each game that they are blanked.

However, we need to put things in perspective. Sure, Montreal has been shut out three times over their last three games. Sure, they currently sit tied with the New York Rangers for sixth-place in the Eastern Conference. There's enough to worry about if you think that they're done scoring for the season, but I'm pretty sure that the Canadiens will break the goose egg before they fill out an egg carton. All teams go through stretches where pucks seem like they are avoiding the net altogether, and the Canadiens are no different in that they've reached a low point for scoring at this point in the season.

For all the chatter about the shutout streak, it's just a bit of tough luck for the Canadiens right now. It's not like they are the 1928-29 Chicago Blackhawks who were shut out 20 times in one season in posting a record of 7-29-8. Their record was 0-18-2 in those games, so it wasn't a very good season for the boys from the Windy City as they finished dead-last in the NHL.

The Canadiens will host Atlanta on Tuesday, so there's a good chance that the shutout streak will come to an end as the Habs battle a non-playoff team. There's still a reason to play the game, though, and anything can happen. If I'm a betting man, I'd say the streak comes to an end on Tuesday evening.

Until next time, keep your sticks on the ice!

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