Marinaro: Canadiens' loss to Jets stings the most

Tony Marinaro
12/23/2011 11:04:38 AM
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It wasn't the kind of start to his NHL head coaching career that Randy Cunneyworth had envisioned.

His team - the Montreal Canadiens - have lost five in a row.

Four of which have happened since Cunneyworth replaced Jacques Martin. And of the four, Thursday night's loss probably hurts the most.

It came against a Winnipeg team that was two points up on Montreal in the Eastern Conference standings.

A team the Habs beat by a score of 5-1 back on Oct. 9.

It was a game that saw Randy Cunneyworth take his first gamble as head coach of the Habs. He scratched defenceman PK Subban and centre Lars Eller. The two youngsters have struggled. Subban has a minus-5 rating and Eller a minus-3 in three games with the new coach. With Subban and Eller out, replacing them were Alexei Emelin and Yannick Weber.

The move did not pay dividends. Cunneyworth gambled and lost.

Playing their third game in four nights and confidence very low, the Canadiens were never in this one. Their power play once again let them down. During a four-minute power play, the Canadiens had exactly one shot. The Jets on the other hand, had three.

Overall, the Habs were outshot 34-27 and were shut out 4-0. The Canadiens now sit 12th in the East. They are four points out of the eighth and final playoff spot, which is presently occupied by New Jersey. It should be noted that the Habs have played more games (36) than any team in the East. The Devils have three games in hand on Montreal.

After the game, Habs forward Mathieu Darche said the Canadiens play is embarrassing - both from a team and individual perspective. No doubt, the head coach would agree with him.

It's time for the leadership group to stand up.

The Habs' 2011-12 slogan is 'Rise Together.' With key points lost and team morale hitting rock bottom, it's about time they do. The Canadiens will take a few days off and visit the Senators in Ottawa on Tuesday night.

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