Just over one week ago, Montreal Canadiens fans were talking about their team as a legitimate threat to win the North Division after a 7-1-2 start.
Eight days later, that outlook has changed dramatically.
Coming off a 3-0 loss to the Edmonton Oilers on Thursday night, Montreal has now dropped three of its past four, including losses to the Ottawa Senators and Toronto Maple Leafs.
As expected, some Habs fans have taken the opportunity to hit the panic button.
How concerned should the Canadiens and their fans really be?
Here is the Morning Coffee for Friday Feb. 12, 2021.
Habs Hit A Wall
At this moment, the correct answer is that Habs fans shouldn’t be concerned at all about their team’s recent play.
For as awful as Montreal has looked at times over the past week, it’s important to keep their struggles in perspective.
The Canadiens were one of the most profitable teams for bettors to back throughout their red-hot 7-1-2 start.
The majority of playoff contenders should be expected to hit a wall at one point or another throughout the season.
The Habs are dealing with that right now.
Certainly, the timing of last week’s upset loss to the Senators looms large when it comes to the level of concern amongst Canadiens’ fans.
While Montreal responded with a win over Ottawa in the rematch, the schedule was about to get tougher for them with games against the Maple Leafs and Oilers on back-to-back nights.
The Habs have played Toronto twice now. They’ve lost both games.
Still, even after Thursday night’s loss to Edmonton, the Canadiens are still 8-3-1 against the rest of their division.
Do they need to fix a power play that has been inconsistent at best dating back to last season? Yes.
Do they need to push the tempo and figure out how to generate more scoring chances at five-on-five? Yes.
Does Carey Price need to play better? Yes.
Still, Habs fans should feel pretty good about their team’s start at the quarter mark of the season.
Now comes an interesting challenge for Montreal.
Can the Canadiens respond with back-to-back games against the best team in their division?
The Habs will visit the Maple Leafs on Saturday night and then have a full week off before they host Toronto the following Saturday night.
At the very least, it will be important for them to earn a split.
After that, Montreal has a two-week stretch that features three games against the Senators and four games against the Winnipeg Jets.
If the Canadiens win the next one against the Maple Leafs, Habs fans will feel pretty good about their team heading into a week off.
If Montreal loses to Toronto on Saturday night, I’m positive that Habs fans will hit the panic button, regardless of whether or not it’s warranted.
Oilers Heating Up
While the Habs have struggled of late, the Oilers are trending in the opposite direction with wins in six of their past seven games to improve to 9-7-0.
Edmonton was the second choice to win the North Division at +450 odds at the start of the season. That number fell all the way to +1200 following a rough start.
With a quarter of the season in the books already, I’m betting on Toronto to win the division while the Oilers, Habs, Jets and Calgary Flames compete for the remaining playoff spots in the division.
UFC 258 is Saturday night and that means we finally get to see Gilbert Burns get his shot at the welterweight gold against champion Kamaru Usman.
While Usman is the deserved favourite, the fact that he’s listed at such long odds probably has more to do with the heavy backing he continues to get from fans than an actual reflection of what the matchup dictates the odds should be.
Our MMA reporter Aaron Bronsteter tackled that number in his Reading Between The Lines edition for the UFC 258 main event.
Aaron also gave us some great insight into several fights for UFC 258, including the women’s flyweight co-main event fight between Maycee Barber and Alexa Grasso.
Make sure you check them out before Saturday night’s card at TSN.CA/EDGE.