Canadiens’ Artturi Lehkohen is checked by Kurtis Gabriel of the New Jersey Devils at the Prudential Center on Monday, Feb. 25, 2019, in Newark, N.J.
Al Bello / Getty Images
Would Matt Duchene have won that game for the Canadiens?How about Mark Stone?Or Wayne Simmonds? Would his presence in bleu-blanc-rouge have prevented a poop show in New Jersey?Uncomfortable truth: The Canadiens were so bad for most of the game in Newark, I’m not sure Sidney Crosby would have helped.And he wasn’t available on the trade deadline Monday.When the smoke I wish I’d been inhaling cleared Tuesday night, the Canadiens were still clinging to a wild-card playoff berth.But for how long?While the Canadiens visit Detroit on Tuesday night, Carolina will play host to L.A. and Pittsburgh visits Columbus.And if the Canadiens are as bad against the Red Wings as they were against the Devils …By Wednesday morning, the Canadiens could be out of a playoff spot. And with three back-to-backs in less than two weeks and six of their next seven games on the road — including the perennially challenging trip to California — they could be on the outside looking in for a while.Like till next October.Too pessimistic?Perhaps so. But dark clouds are forming over this team … at the most inopportune time.• Shea Weber has been terrible. Is the Captain injured or ancient … or both?• The power play is a disaster. And it has been crap since the season began.• The intensity of the NHL schedule is catching up to Jesperi Kotkaniemi … especially in road games.• Despite Marc Bergevin’s obsessive tinkering, the fourth line still can’t score.• Max Domi is a helluva player and a brilliant acquisition. But some of those penalties …• Artturi Lehkonen is beyond messed up.Did I mention the power play?The Canadiens have lost five straight road games.The Liveblog Commentariat was not amused by the latest loss. A sampling:Tonight we’ll see if Toronto’s crucible produces forged in fire or funeral pyre; banzai or goodbye.andThis is a statement game.Sadly, the statement is: we’re not a playoff team.-habitualThe Habs: craptacular or suckilicious? Which is it?andAs I feared earlier this season, the Habs will struggle to score as the games get more physical and tighten up.-HemaNot to pile on, but a rookie just made Weber look like Brisebois (Patrice, not Julian).-HabsProfCan the Canadiens’ trainers install rockets on Weber’s skates? That’s the only way he’s going to keep up with opponents in today’s NHL.-HemaNot a surprise, but if you check the stats, Shea Weber has slowed down during the 2nd half of the season, as he did in his last year in Nashville and his 1st year in Montreal (he was injured last year.) And now, he’s a year older and coming off a major injury.-Curly Howie MB content with this team and burning CP prime years -Habsnut Any optimists out there?Sports Illustrated’s Michael Farber put the Canadiens’ situation in context.“We’re in the last week of February and talking about the fourth line,” Farber said in his segment on Mitch Melnick’s TSN 690 show. “If games matter this late in the season, the rebuild is going well.”To the surprise of most prognosticators, the Canadiens played a meaningful game on Trade Deadline Day.Back in October, did anyone expect that?