Forward lines and defense pairings:
Pacioretty – Desharnais – Weise
Eller – Galchenyuk – Carr
Fleischmann – Plekanec – Andrighetto
Flynn – Mitchell – Byron
Beaulieu – Subban
Markov – Petry
Barberio – Pateryn
Scratches: Devante Smith-Pelly, Jarred Tinordi, Alexei Emelin
Injured reserve: Brendan Gallagher, Carey Price, Tom Gilbert
Michel Therrien was outcoached again tonight. Badly. This time by his former assistant, Gerard Gallant.
It’s also rather clear that despite all the accolades Marc Bergevin doesn’t hold a candle to his former mentor, Dale Tallon. The top-6 talent on the Panthers is superior to the Canadiens and Gallant is pushing all the right buttons to get them to play at their best.
Meanwhile, without Carey Price to cover-up, Therrien has been proven to be nothing more than a stubborn, arrogant ideologue whose most consistent attribute is his ability to strip the confidence of players he rejects. Therrien assembles lines and allocates icetime without regard to merit or accountability.
It is well-known that David Desharnais is one of the coach’s favorites. Therrien plays Desharnais on the top line and on the power-play blind to his lack of talent and fully ignoring his lack of production. Despite being blessed with top linemates and icetime, Desharnais has just two assists in the last 17 games.
It is abundantly clear that Desharnais is no longer an NHL calibre player.
Whether you rely on traditional stats, advanced stats or observational analysis, it was still difficult to adequately express just how poorly Desharnais played on Tuesday. The Canadiens top line centre failed to record a mark on the gamesheet (other than a losing faceoff record.) No goals, assists, shots on goal, missed shots or blocked shots. He was completely irrelevant to the game.
This pathetic performance was in spite of being given 15:06 in icetime including 3:06 of power-play time.
In terms of even-strength Corsi, Desharnais was 1-16. That disparity in shot attempts is a number that is hard to believe is possible. And yet it gets worse. Offensive zone starts for Desharnais were 83.3 percent. In other words, he started almost all of his zone starts in the offensive zone yet could muster nothing.
Bring up Angelo Miceli from the Brampton Beast, the Canadiens ECHL affiliate, and I wager you would see a much better performance. That’s not to say that I’m advocating a call-up for Miceli but instead illustrating the level at which Desharnais is playing.
For comparison here is the Corsi for the other centres: Galchenyuk 19-15, Plekanec 12-11, Mitchell 5-2.
It’s fun for fans to speculate on fantasy hockey style trades as a fix for the lack of Canadiens production. But far more doable would be for a good coach to fully exploit the talent that is already on the roster.
The Canadiens have lost 11 of their last 13 games. Eleven losses in a month (December) is a new franchise record. Do you really believe that this is one of the worst rosters in 106 years or are they not being properly managed?
With the win the Florida Panthers vaulted over the Canadiens to take top spot in the Atlantic Division (and they hold two games in hand.) Boston is just one point behind the Habs with three games in hand. Montreal is just three points out of eighth place is the conference and the final playoff spot.
The Canadiens are a fragile team right now with little confidence. It’s incumbent on the general manager to release the head coach or pull off a significant trade before it is too late.
The Habs will be in Boston on Friday to take on the Bruins in the 2016 Winter Classic.
▲ Ben Scrivens, Alex Galchenyuk, Lars Eller
▼ P.K. Subban, Max Pacioretty, Dale Weise, Greg Pateryn, Mark Barberio, Tomas Fleischmann
▼▼ David Desharnais