The Canadiens have sunk like a stone, going from a historically good first month of the season to well out of the playoff picture, and with Carey Price reportedly likely done for the year with an MCL injury, there’s no reason to think they’re going to turn things around. So it’s about that time of year for things to get dysfunctional.
(Not to put too fine a point on things, but the Habs are 10-2-0 with Price in net, and 17-25-4 with anyone else. So maybe one player can turn games for the good. Can one player be responsible for a loss? Michel Therrien sure thinks so.)
With a little more than two minutes remaining in Colorado, with the score locked at two, P.K. Subban took the puck along inside the blue line, trying to outskate Mikhail Grigorenko’s pressure. He never quite did, losing the puck, falling down, and only being able to watch as an Avalanche odd-man rush led to Jarome Iginla’s second goal of the game, which would stand up as a winner.
Subban said he lost an edge; Therrien was less forgiving.
“We played hard, played a solid game; too bad an individual mistake cost us the game late in the game,” Therrien said. “As a coach I thought he could have had a better decision at the blue line...and he put himself in a tough position.”
That’s surprisingly harsh from a coach, to so clearly put a team loss onto one individual screw-up, but Subban wasn’t having a good game. He finished minus-1 and didn’t record a shot on net. But Therrien did more than just criticize Subban: he kept him on the bench for the remainder of the game, even though Montreal desperately needed a goal and Subban is the Habs’ leading scorer.
(For what it’s worth, GM Marc Bergevin said last month that Therrien won’t be fired midseason.)
The Canadiens are a mess, though it’s not quite clear if it’s one of those situations that was previously smoothed over by winning, or if it’s something that’s only borne of this trying season. But from all kinds of reports, the players in that dressing room aren’t getting along particularly well, and are at odds with their coach.
After the game Subban obliquely addressed some of those rumors, and how he fits into them. (Quotes via La Presse, so I’m doing my best to translate here.)
“I don’t expect any less from the media,” he said after the loss. “I expect to hear everything. I expect to hear trade rumors, to speculation about quarrels between teammates and with coaches.. I expect everything, but I don’t care what people say.”
“It’s funny, when it’s time to make a distinction between player and teammate, everybody underlines how my personality is different from the others,” remarked Subban. “But look at other teams, the situation is the same. Patrick Kane and Jonathan Toews are not the same type of guys and they find ways to get along. Jamie Benn and Tyler Seguin in Dallas, same thing. Why is it different with me? All I want is what’s best for the team.”