Well this is a rough season start for the Canadiens, and it keeps getting worse, something we haven’t been used to in past seasons. And there’s nothing to reassure a fan base that was already on his edge with a disappointing off-season.
Looking at the last three seasons with Michel Therrien behind the bench, we can clearly see how spoiled we were.
But all these tremendous starts didn’t bring the Canadiens further than the second round in the playoffs. It is true that a strong season start greatly improves a team’s chances to make it to the playoffs, but the past is not always an indication of the future.
— Mathieu CHagnon (@Mat_CH) 25 février 2016
The true important matter is how the team will regroup and maintain good chemistry throughout the whole season like the Anaheim Ducks did in 2015-16.
As of right now, one of the main problems with the Habs, is that there’s no chemistry on the ice. The players seem to be trying to please each other, thinking to much and making fancy plays instead of playing with instinct. The players lately said they have a great chemistry in the locker room, but this will not necessarily bring results on the ice.
Another department where the Canadiens are struggling is in the faceoff circle and they are ranked 24th in the NHL with a percentage of 46.6. Even if most of the Canadiens centreman were able to get better numbers in the last two games, the most efficient among the four main centers remains Phillip Danault .
This situation can cause a lot of problems, not being able to build momentum in the game and always starting a shift chasing the puck. It’s obvious that a solution is necessary.
So far, as a centreman Jonathan Drouin is doing a respectable job in many aspects, but certainly not in the circle. This cause a even bigger headache to Claude Julien who should wish is best players to be on the attacking side by taking possession of the puck when the play start instead of finding themselves in the defending position.
Personally, I would like to see Danault back as the first line centre, helping the two best players start with the puck more often. Last season, Danault had a lot of success with Max Pacioretty and Alexander Radulov. Each of them were occupying a specific role: Pacioretty as the sniper, Radulov as the playmaker and Danault as the two-way player.
Replacing Radulov by Drouin would be, in my opinion, an upgrade in the playmaking skills. I don’t see why they would not have success too. This would allow Andrew Shaw to get the spot as the regular third line center as he has shown good faceoff numbers albeit in limited chances. In my opinion, this arrangement would help to balance the lines.
Here are my recommended Canadiens trios:
Pacioretty – Danault – Drouin
Galchenyuk – Plekanec – Gallagher
Hudon – Shaw – Lehkonen
Byron – De La Rose – Hemsky
Last weekend, in press conference, Claude Julien used the expression “we could have used a break.” It was reminiscent of Michel Therrien’s favorite phrase “puck luck.”
He’s quite right on that matter, the Canadiens took a total of 255 shots, 63 of them were taken from the dangerous zone. Considering the probability to score from these locations, they should have scored a total of 18 goals instead of the 10 they scored in regular time which placed them 31st in the league. An additional eight goals would have given quite a different portrait from what we have now. Instead of having a record of 1-5-1, it could have be at 3-2-2.
Even if could have notice a better cohesion in the last few games, it wasn’t consistent enough to bring the results to the table. Plus, this is not something we can say often, Carey Price hasn’t shown many great performances in my opinion. He seems to be having a hard time finding the puck.
On the bright side, because there is one, we can say that Victor Mete is truly playing like an NHL top defenseman and not a 19-year-old rookie. Mete continues to impress with his strong play in his own zone and has the ability to drive some offense. Mete earned his first NHL point against the Sharks on Shea Weber’s power play goal.
With two losses in two games played in their California trip, a trip where the team has always struggled in the past, the Canadiens find themselves in a tough situation already at this time of the season. The hope has for a record of .500 on the road trip, but now the Canadiens have dug a very deep hole.
The Canadiens will have to start winning soon if they don’t want a too steep a cliff to climb to be within reach of the playoff contenders. Considering that the Habs will need at least 95 points to make the post-season, they will have to maintain a record of .613 till the end of the season. This is not impossible but getting more and more difficult everytime they lose.
In other news, Marc Bergevin has been seen at two Islanders games recently. There’s clearly something brewing between the two organizations. It would not be surprising to see a transaction involving the Canadiens and the Islanders.
It’s still early in the season, not the time to press the panic button just yet. Marc Bergevin has plenty of time to find a way to upgrade his team. Claude Julien must make adjustments and help the players to find their rhythm.
Let’s hope that the changes in play come sooner earlier than later. Another loss on the road trip in Anaheim would unlock the famous panic button.