And the Canadiens showed a horrible sense of timing Wednesday night.
On a day that GM Bob Gainey came out and said that the time for the team's struggling players to turn their season around was now, those players continued to struggle, and did it in spectacular fashion.
The power play that had been rejuvenated with the addition of Mathieu Schneider went to sleep at exactly the wrong moment, failing to cash in on three first period opportunities and one to start the second. Carey Price had a sufficient rest and more than sufficient reason to come out and try to steal a game, but he simply wasn't good enough, all but assuring Jaroslav Halak will get the start Friday in Atlanta. Mike Komisarek once again took a backbreaking penalty that led to Buffalo's third goal, and was also responsible for the turnover that led to the second goal.
The list could go on and on, and the result was a 5-1 loss to the Sabres in Buffalo.
It would be pretty easy to pile on this loss and Gainey's inaction at the deadline to write off the Canadiens as doomed. But that's simply not the case.
Following this three game road swing that takes the Habs to Atlanta and Dallas, they will have a nice little stretch of nine out of 10 at home against some teams they should beat. Montreal is still one of the best home teams in the league, so that run of games at the Bell Centre could give ths group the confidence it needs to move forward. Because even if the Canadiens won their four previous games, everyone knew they did so on the back of Jaroslav Halak and not because the team was playing particularly well.
If they can string some games together where they legitimately beat up on some teams, that confidence could return for real.
But in order for that to happen, the team must play better. And that, as Gainey pointed out Wednesday while delivering his vote of confidence, is a responsibility that falls on the coaching staff.
For the first time this season, I'm having my doubts about Guy Carbonneau because a lot of the team's problems are recurring, and they are in areas the coach has an impact on. One of them is the Habs tendency to get completely outplayed in second periods, which was again the case Wednesday.
"With the first period we had," Carbonneau told reporters after the game, "not to come out for the second period and play as well boggles my mind."
It shouldn't boggle your mind, coach, it should show you that your players come out for the second unprepared to play, and that kind of falls on you.
We'll see what happens Friday in Atlanta, but the effort shown by the Habs in Buffalo was supposed to be a neon sign to their GM showing him his confidence in them was not a complete mistake.
What wound up happeneing in Buffalo could have Gainey regretting sitting so still at the the deadline.