The Forum: What’s The Deal With These Blowouts?

The Habs have lost just six times in regulation through the first 23 games of the season, however, those loses have looked particularly ugly due to rather lopsided scores. How bad? Here are the final scores in MTL’s six regulation defeats this season: 7-1; 3-0; 6-2; 5-0; 4-0; 5-0.

That means they’ve been outscored 30-3 in their regulation losses this season.

Which demands the question: What the hell is with these blowout losses?

Steph (@stephdarwish) – RIGHT???

I was listening to a segment about this on my way to work the other morning, and I couldn’t stop yelling at the radio:

WHO CARES ABOUT THE GOAL DIFFERENTIAL??! You don’t lose more points in the standings because you lost by a bigger score. Whether they lose 2-1 or they lose 100-0, they lost. However, if the Habs record wasn’t 16-6-1 then I would be singing a very different tune. Because they are 1st in the East, because they pile up consecutive wins and have rarely lost consecutive games, then these blowouts are just a funny little stat that we can laugh about.

I don’t think it’s a case of them giving up, because they often come back after being down a couple goals, and they basically ALWAYS rebound with a win after these blowouts.

Zach (@ZachVanasse) – I wonder if this is another symptom of what we touched on in last week’s edition of The Forum: spring hockey has become the main focus in Montreal this season. Are the Habs simply not showing up some nights because the focus isn’t there 100% of the time? Why do the floodgates open when things aren’t going our way?

Maybe the players are folding up and going home once they feel they are out of it. Ready to forget the current contest and focus on the next game. Maybe.

Considering the small sample size of six games, I’m still willing to concede that this might just be some weird coincidence. However, having watched these lopsided losses go down, I tend to believe there is more to it. You can usually tell the big loss is coming after the first goal, which means something about the Habs play on bad nights is noticeably off.

Is losing by a significant margin worse than losing a close game? I have absolutely no idea. Does it actually “say something” about the Habs? I’m not sure. It’s weird.

Kyle (@kyleroussel) – I haven’t a clue. If we look at the 6 regulation losses and attempt to pin some sort of abstract reasoning, we could go with:

1st loss – last game of a season-opening road trip vs a good team.
2nd loss – they were out west. ‘Nuff said.
3rd loss – first game back home after a trip. Classic let down game.
4th-5th losses – straight-up overmatched by better teams.
6th loss – The second of a back-to-back set after they had just played their blood rival the night before. Also concluded a stretch of 4 games in 6 nights / 6 games in 9 nights / 8 games in 13 nights. Maybe they were looking ahead to a 3-day break? Maybe they were just tired?

For a team that lives by “NO Excuses”, that’s a pretty lengthy list of excuses. This team falls behind so often that blowouts are bound to happen. Maybe they recognize something in themselves on such a night and just try to ride it out, because as Stephanie said, it doesn’t really matter if you lose by 1 goal or 100 goals. Therrien haters will point to his lineup choices, preferred strategies and the fancystats to say that these big losses shouldn’t surprise anyone. Maybe they’re right. Like I said, I haven’t a clue.

Damon (@DTA23) – Goal differential is a really telling statistic, but it has to be evaluated within the proper context.

In football and basketball, winning close games isn’t really a skill so the point differential is a very telling statistic. A team with a good record will usually have a very high point differential. It’s when you look at .500 teams that you can see which ones are pretenders. Hockey and baseball are different. Winning close games is a skill. If you have a great closer on your baseball team you can rest on a one-run lead and let your bullpen take care of the rest.

In hockey if you have a good goalie or a good defence, sometimes a 1-2 goal lead seems insurmountable.

What I’m getting at is don’t look straight to goal differential right now. They are first in the East because they are winning a large majority of their games. In fact if the trend was reversed and they were blowing teams out and losing close games I’d be more worried because, come playoffs, blowouts are hard to come by.

Winning is what matters. There’s a reason they give points in the standing based on wins and only go to goal differential as a tiebreaker. It’s because the first measure of success will always be record and then you can use the other measures for comparison if there is need.

Pierre-Alain (@PsaintLo) – What if the system is the reason. The reason they win so many games and the reason the get blown out sometimes.

Let’s say their system is great and allows them to play the style of hockey they want to play. They look good, they feel good, the players are prudent and they feel safe. They win hockey games.

Now, once they get scored on, they have to play from behind and that’s a different style of hockey. It’s not their system anymore. They open the ice a whole lot more which puts their aging D-men in a vulnerable position. The forwards are trying to score a little more than usual and so they are late coming back in transition and then it looks like everyone is out of position… like against the Rangers, or the Penguins or the Flames earlier this season.

I don’t think it makes us a bad team. We’ve been coming back from behind quite a few times this season, but this high risk, high reward type of hockey will do exactly what it’s doing. You either get back in games in spectacular fashion, or you get blown out.

The Two-Four: The Quarterly Report

The Canadiens have hit the quarter point of the season and did so with some solid wins over tough competition. Rene Bourque has been shipped to Anaheim, the Bruins are banged up, the Leafs failed to salute, and Lucic got one-punched. Sean and Zach talk Weise, Patches and Subban’s Sports Illustrated cover, plus the so-called conspiracy against Gallagher. It’s The Two-Four!