Forward lines and defense pairings
Byron – Drouin – Gallagher
Galchenyuk – De La Rose – Lehkonen
Rychel – L. Shaw – Carr
Deslauriers – McCarron – Froese
Benn – Petry
Alzner – Juulsen
Reilly – Lernout
Byron Froese, Jordie Benn
Ales Hemsky – concussion, Shea Weber – lower-body, Victor Mete – hand, Max Pacioretty – lower-body, Phillip Danault – upper body, Andrew Shaw – upper-body, Nikita Scherbak – concussion
Post-game, Claude Julien was polishing up the injury excuses. He plans to be trotting those out a lot over the next few days in his exit meeting with Marc Bergevin and when he pleads his case to the fans via the media.
When a reporter offered the slightest push back — as in, the Canadiens were struggling well in advance of the injury parade — Julien bit back hard using the “do your homework” putdown, leftover from the Jacques Martin era.
It’s understandable that Julien is defensive. Last year he was given a pass on the first round playoff exit. But this season, having implemented his full system, with the Canadiens and the Laval Rocket, it’s clear that his style of hockey doesn’t fit in the NHL of 2018. And it certainly doesn’t fit with the Canadiens personnel.
Julien’s system hasn’t been successful in the NHL for seven years, and then, barely so. Need we be reminded that Claude was on the verge of getting fired in Boston during the 2010-11 season? Winning a Cup saved his job. But Claude Julien-type teams aren’t successful in the current NHL.
When Julien was fired in 2017 in Boston his team was guilty of many of the sins owned by this edition of the Canadiens. And since Bruce Cassidy stepped it, the Bruins have been on a tear. With a win on Sunday over Florida, Boston could win the Atlantic division and be third overall in the league.
Julien has guided the Canadiens to a 28th place finish this season with just 71 points, a 32-point plunge from last season. And Julien et al, goes in the books as coaching one of the worst road penalty-kills in a very long time.
Julien’s focus on defense-first is a sham. As for his offence, it is designed to generate a high volume of shots from anywhere on the ice. Anywhere except high danger shooting zones. So offence is anemic at 2.52 goals per game, which ranks 29th in the league.
Whatever he has been in the distant past, Julien is now a coach who fails at offense, fails at defence and is very skilled at undermining the confidence of his players. He gives Therrien a run-for-his-money in his ability to publicly throw players under the bus.
Marc Bergevin waited much too long to fire Michel Therrien. Let’s see if he has learned his lesson this time?
▲ Artturi Lehkonen, Jacob De La Rose, Alex Galchenyuk
▼ Logan Shaw, Kerby Rychel, Mike Reilly, Brendan Gallagher, Jordie Benn, Byron Froese, Jeff Petry, Michael McCarron, Nicolas Deslauriers