Forward lines and defense pairings:
Pacioretty – Plekanec – Gallagher
Galchenyuk – Desharnais – Weise
Fleischmann – Eller – Byron
De la Rose – Mitchell – Flynn
Emelin – Petry
Beaulieu – Barberio
Scratches: Devante Smith-Pelly, Greg Pateryn, Victor Bartley
Injured reserve: Carey Price, Tom Gilbert
Do you remember the 1940’s? No, neither do I.
Back in 1939-’40 NHL season, the Montreal Canadiens finished in last place in the seven-team league with a record of 10-33-5. At year’s end, Montreal coach Pit Lepine was fired after just one season behind the bench. Dick Irvin was then hired to rebuild the Habs and went on to win three Stanley Cups as coach.
But that 1939-’40 team had the distinction of losing 16 of 20 from January 27 to March 17, 1940 with a record of 2-16-2 (W-L-T). Your 2015-’16 Canadiens just equaled that mark earning just four wins in their last 20 games with a record of 4-15-1 (W-L-OTL).
Let that sink in for a second. I can think of some pretty bad Canadiens teams in my lifetime. I’m sure that you can too. Yet none of them had as bad a 20-game stretch as this year’s squad.
That prompts one to ask why? It’s not a surprise that fans have differing opinions. But it comes down to answering this question:
Do you believe that the Canadiens have the worst roster of players in the past 76 years or do you believe that they have a coaching problem?
In Chicago, it wasn’t a good game for Michel Therrien. The newly-created line of David Desharnais, Alex Galchenyuk and Dale Weise were ineffective in the Hawks zone and were a defensive nightmare. The trio finished the night at minus-6.
The coaching staff also dropped the ball when assistant coach Clement Jodoin failed to communicate that the Blackhawks were offside on their third goal in time for Therrien to challenge the play.
For the second game in a row, the defensive pairing of Mark Barberio and Nathan Beaulieu have been a major liability. It shouldn’t be too hard to figure out that it is a bad idea to leave the NHL’s top goal scorer all alone in front of the net. Patrick Kane picked up his league-leading 29th goal.
The coach didn’t have many answers after the game other than to admire the home squad. Therrien said, “They have some really, really quality hockey players. They’re tough to play against.” They also have a really, really good coach in Joel Quenneville.
The Canadiens have some pretty good hockey players themselves. They aren’t a bad team. But they are a very fragile team right now. And the coach with the nice suit doesn’t have any solutions.
Therrien can’t figure out why his arbitrary line-juggling isn’t working anymore. His ego won’t allow him to admit that the technique only appeared to have an affect in the past but that it was Carey Price who provided the stability and confidence that fed his team.
While Marc Bergevin recently gave Therrien a personal, public endorsement, Geoff Molson has not. Watching the Canadiens become the worst team in the league before his eyes may be too much for the owner to bear.
The Bruins arrive for a date at the Bell Centre on Tuesday.
▲ Lars Eller, Brendan Gallagher, Tomas Plekanec, Jeff Petry, Max Pacioretty, Alexei Emelin
▼ Nathan Beaulieu, Mark Barberio, Alex Galchenyuk, David Desharnais, Dale Weise, Torrey Mitchell