Forward lines and defense pairings
Lehkonen – Drouin – Byron
Pacioretty – Danault – Shaw
Hudon – Plekanec – Gallagher
Galchenyuk – McCarron – Scherbak
Mete – Weber
Alzner – Benn
Davidson – Petry
Jacob De La Rose, Torrey Mitchell, Joe Morrow
David Schlemko – hand (mid-November), Ales Hemsky
Montreal Canadiens fans are understandably disheartened. While the 2017-18 season is just three weeks old, there is a feeling like it is over already. At least for fans hoping to see hockey in Montreal in May.
American Thanksgiving, the traditional measuring stick for the playoffs, is still a few weeks away. But with just one win in regulation in the first ten games, the Canadiens are no where near a playoff spot. In fact, only the winless Arizona Coyotes are below them in the standings.
What makes the situation even more pessimistic for Canadiens fans are recent statements by Marc Bergevin. The GM has said that this season’s roster most closely aligns with his vision. In his opinion, Bergevin is happy with the personnel he has assembled.
As Bergevin cowardly intensified the spotlight on his players, fans realized that immediate help was not on the way. Post-game, they vented their frustrations mostly in the direction of Carey Price, Max Pacioretty and Shea Weber.
With the Canadiens not able to score a goal, the criticisms of Price are mindless. Basing an argument on a box score or bank account is for simpletons. When analyzing goal by goal, Price should be the least of fans worries.
Yet, for some, Price should be responsible for all of the turnovers by his teammates, the deflections, bad gaps by defensemen, an inability to box out forwards, lost puck battles, a failure to clear the defensive zone, etc. Absolutely ludicrous.
Similarly, Max Pacioretty is criticized for not being physical enough, for too many empty net goals (not true) and for being an American captain.
The truth is that the coach and GM have not done enough to ice a talented lineup and put the players they have in the best position to succeed.
After playing well for the better part of the first period, unforced errors by Paul Byron and Victor Mete handed the Kings a 2-0 lead. For Mete, this game triggered the start of his entry level contract. It was also the third straight game that Mete struggled, looking every bit the rookie defenseman who is over his head with a first pairing assignment.
Likewise, Byron, a bottom six player, managed just one shot on goal in his first line role. Along with his linemates, Jonathan Drouin and Artturi Lehkonen, the trio was a combined minus-6.
Despite five power-play opportunities, the Canadiens could not find the back of the net. Montreal’s number one ‘centre’ had almost six minutes in power-play time. Drouin has yet to score a power-play goal this season.
This roster that is so loved by Bergevin is horrible defensively, has weak special teams and can’t score. No wonder they are so fragile and lack confidence.
Meanwhile Mikhail Sergachev is fourth in the league in scoring among defensemen with four goals and six assists with ten points.
▼ Victor Mete, Paul Byron, Jordie Benn, Jeff Petry, Alex Galchenyuk