For about 55 minutes last night the Canadiens looked like the dominant team so many people predicted they would be at the start of the season, yet it was the other 8 that almost sent them to what would have been a heartbreaking loss in their playoff push. With less than 10 minutes to go in regulation the Habs squandered a 2-goal lead against an awful Tampa Bay squad, and it took an OT marker by Saku Koivu to salvage a much-needed second point. Does the end in this case justify the means? Hardly...
This is still a team that lacks consistency, and can lapse in and out of focus on what seems to be a regular basis. Last night it was an inability to convert on scoring chances that nearly cost them the game, since there was no way it should have been only a 2-goal cushion given the opportunities that were presented. The Canadiens were 1-for-9 on the PP, and missed a number of cross-crease opportunities and open nets. That sort of thing just can't happen if you want to beat teams ranked higher than the bottom three of the league.
Tomorrow will likely be a better indication of just what the team is capable of, as the Buffalo Sabres visit the Bell Center. Should they manage to beat Toronto tonight Buffalo will be only 5 points back of the Canadiens for the 8th spot in the East, making tomorrow a desperation game in terms of the standings for both teams.
The question now is this: will the Habs manage to play like it's one?