Alex Kovalev feels the Canadiens are too hesitant and lacking confidence with the puck in the early going of the season.
Guy Carbonneau thinks his team is lacking some timing, due largely to big pre-season expectations and a wonky schedule that had the team with four days off last week and another five-day break next week.
Saku Koivu felt his Canadiens may have tried to get a "bit too cute" and didn't put enough pucks on Cam Ward in the Carolina net.
Do these comments sound like they are coming from a winning team, one which snapped a nine-game losing streak at home to the Hurricanes with a bore-you-to-tears 3-2 victory in the shootout? Does it sound like these guys are 6-1-1 after eight games, tied in points with the high-flying Minnesota Wild, their next opponents Thursday night?
But the Canadiens record, even it has been compiled against some less than challenging opposition, remains impressive because it's being done while the team continues to search for itself.
Kovalev said after the game that the Habs need to start playing the way they did at the end of last year, but in fact what they need to do is figure out what identity this version of the team is going to ultimately have. Despite relatively minor personnel changes, this is a hugely different team than last year.
The additions of Robert Lang, Alex Tanguay and Georges Laraque are not the only new players Carbonneau has at his disposal, because the Kostitsyn brothers in their current form are essentially free agent acquisitions when compared to last year at the same time. Last year's team had a clearly-defined checking line, and nearly half the forwards were muckers.
Now, Carbonneau has three lines that are threats to score every night, no matter what combination he ultimately puts them in, and opposing coaches will lose sleep trying to figure out who they will play their checking line against.
The other night against Anaheim, Randy Carlyle threw his shutdown line against the Plekanec line half the time, and against the Koivu line the other half. Most teams don't present that dilemma.
Forging a new identity takes some time, and eventually it will come, but one guy who is clearly having trouble accepting that adjustment period is Plekanec. He has only an empty net goal and two assists to show for his season thus far, and it's becoming increasingly clear to anyone paying attention that he's over-thinking the game right now.
Early in the second period Tuesday night, he had a marvelous opportunity to step over the blue line and put a shot on goal. Instead, Plekanec faked the shot and tried an impossible pass that ultimately killed the rush. It was almost as if he told himself in the split-second before the play, "OK, I tried throwing everything imaginable on net against the Ducks Saturday night, it's time to try something different."
When someone is thinking that much out there - and I'm not saying Plekanec is necessarily, it just looks that way - it becomes chronic and a slump can start to perpetuate itself.
"He's getting frustrated a bit and you can see it in his body language on the ice," Carbonneau said. "But for me what's important is his overall game, not points. He's doing some very nice things defensively and 5-on-5 since the start of the season, he's had some scoring chances and creates scoring chances. It's just a question of time with him."
That, to me at least, sounds like a man who is going to give his number one centreman from last year some time with his current linemates to find his scoring touch. But the deeper Plekanec goes into this slump, the more it will become clear that perhaps a change of linemates may be the best thing for him.
This is, after all, a new team.