Forward lines and defense pairings
Byron – Drouin – Gallagher
Galchenyuk – De La Rose – Lehkonen
Scherbak – L. Shaw – Carr
Deslauriers – McCarron – Hudon
Reilly – Petry
Alzner – Juulsen
Benn – Lernout
Ales Hemsky – concussion, Shea Weber – lower-body, Victor Mete – hand, Max Pacioretty – lower-body, David Schlemko – undisclosed, Rinat Valiev – lower-body, Phillip Danault – upper body, Andrew Shaw – upper-body
The Canadiens were shut out again, for the 12th time this season. That is two straight shutouts since Montreal put in two solid periods against the defending Stanley Cup champs last week.
But all shutouts aren’t created equally. Against the potent Maple Leafs offence, Charlie Lindgren was required to be spectacular to keep the game close. Tonight’s starter Antti Niemi played well, but had a fair bit of help from Panthers shooters. While Florida dominated the possession game, they lacked the ability to finish their scoring chances.
The Canadiens best chance to get on the board was a goal scored by Jacob De La Rose just 17 seconds after Aaron Ekblad opened the scoring late in the first period. De La Rose drove to the net and converted a perfect feed from Artturi Lehkonen. Unfortunately, after review, the play was ruled offside.
The shutout was the third time in a row that the Canadiens had been unable to score on Florida. You would have to go back to October 24th to find the last time that a Montreal player scored on a Florida goal.
Post-game, Claude Julien was busy tuning up his end-of-season excuses. Julien blamed injuries, youth, inexperience and fatigue.
Yet the Habs were first shutout on October 8th, in just their third game of the season. Surely those excuses don’t apply there too.
Of the 12 shutouts, two came in October, two in November, two in December, three in February and three in March. So isn’t it fair to say that scoring goals has been a problem all season long? And it is also reasonable to argue that Julien’s system has been one of the factors for the anemic offense.
We have heard all season opposing coaches refer to Julien’s system as one with a high volume of shots, taken from anywhere on the ice. Tonight Paul Byron said that the Canadiens “are not taking pucks to the middle.” That leaves “perimeter shots” with “not many going in.”
Another factor for the lack of offense tonight was the Habs power-play that went 0-for-5. If it wasn’t bad enough that Montreal was not generating offense with the man advantage, they gave up five short-handed chances to the Panthers in the first 40 minutes.
Twelve times this season, the Canadiens have been shutout. And in 13 games they scored just one goal. So for at least 25 games, the Montreal offence provided little chance of winning the game regardless of how brilliant the goaltending was.
The simple fact is that the Montreal Canadiens have been the worst team in the league since Christmas.
Claude Julien may want to fool fans that the Habs woes are all due to injuries and call-ups. Both he and Marc Bergevin are a major part of the problem. And if they don’t take responsibility and make major changes for next season, we are likely to see a few more shutouts.
▲ Jacob De La Rose, Artturi Lehkonen, Daniel Carr, Brett Lernout, Paul Byron, Antti Niemi
▼ Jeff Petry, Mike Reilly, Nicolas Deslauriers, Jonathan Drouin, Karl Alzner, Noah Juulsen, Jordie Benn