Forward lines and defense pairings
Tatar – Danault – Gallagher
Drouin – Domi – Shaw
Agostino – Kotkaniemi – Lehkonen
Deslauriers – Peca – Hudon
Benn – Petry
Alzner – Reilly
Ouellet – Mete
Weber, Schlemko, Plekanec, Byron, Armia, Juulsen
While Habs fans are enthusiastic about the charm and early on-ice success of Max Domi, many have forgotten that Marc Bergevin’s primary task during this past off-season was a major upgrade of the Canadiens defense. After all Bergevin’s team was at the bottom of almost every defensive category in the league last season particularly goals against and penalty-kill efficiency.
But the Habs GM failed to move out under-performing defencemen and struck out on acquiring a top-four rearguard and upgrading his bottom pair. His most significant move was to dump J.J. Daigneault as defensive coach bringing in Luke Richardson. While Richardson has made some progress, he can only do so much with which he has been given.
But the Canadiens defensive struggles last year and this year also extend to play by the forwards in the defensive zone. By the numbers, Matthew Peca, Jonathan Drouin, Andrew Shaw and Charles Hudon are worst in this regard. Claude Julien’s system should also receive its fair share of blame.
But ask the sycophants in the mainstream press and you will hear precious little criticism of Bergevin, Julien and the players who are their media darlings for the pathetic defensive performance of the Canadiens. Instead all guns are unfairly aimed at Carey Price.
No doubt that is by design. When Jonathan Drouin played a lazy, selfish game at Madison Square Garden, the dishonest brokers over at L’Antichambre trashed Price for not playing like a franchise player. Mindless acolytes parroted the message on social media.
Despite playing well against the Rangers, the false narrative of a struggling Price was repeated ad infinitum. The charlatans had successfully pulled a bait-and-switch substituting fake news to protect their chosen sons.
And when another poor defensive performance against the Sabres resulted in an overtime loss, again Price was the unworthy scapegoat.
When the scoring plays allowed by the Canadiens are objectively analyzed, Price surrendered one bad goal this week. Does he deserve the outrageous, vicious treatment that he is getting? Of course not.
But the cowardly GM is glad to use his franchise player as a shield for his incompetence in upgrading his defence. Some media and fans are glad to pile on.
It’s sad because Montreal used to be better than this.
▲ Max Domi
▼ Xavier Ouellet, Phillip Danault, Jeff Petry, Jordie Benn, Brendan Gallagher, Kenny Agostino, Tomas Tatar, Victor Mete