Canadiens Split Weekend Double Header But Deserve Much Better...
Your Montreal Canadiens started the weekend with a solid 5-2 win over a hot New York Rangers team before losing the following night against the San Jose Sharks.
The win against the Rangers was great as it snapped a 5 game losing skid and looked like the team that came out the gate hot this season.
The loss against the Sharks was almost predetermined. The Canadiens just can't seem to beat the Sharks no matter what they do. The Habs fired 41 shots at Sharks net minder Martin Jones but could only once found the back of the net. Jones has a winning record this year, but his numbers are very "Meh" with his 3.01 GAA and .894 SP% (and this is AFTER his .976 SP% performance against MTL).
The Canadiens have been playing dominant hockey but the finish is lacking, a story that is all too familiar to last seasons squad. Over the last 7 games the Habs have held the edge in CF% and FF% but have only a 1-4-2 record to show for it. This isn't just 51% CF/FF%'s either, this team has put up advanced stat number in the 55% to 67% in both categories. This club has been applying pressure consistently but just haven't found the back of the net enough to really tie the advanced stats together. If MTL was scoring a bit more the last 7 games could just as easily read 4-1-2.
Much of this could be a result of a lackluster Power Play that currently sits at 29th overall in the NHL. This is the biggest issue offensively at the moment. When compared to the Canadiens rank in goals (15th) and shots (4th) the power play performance simply makes no logical sense. This team plays well with speed and has creative players but once the Habs gain a man advantage they completely slow down and ruin their momentum.
Weber's return will help this struggling PP, but we have to hope this doesn't turn into the Habs of old where teams can simply key on the point shot and keep the power play punchless...
At this point, the Canadiens power play requires a complete overhaul. Tear it apart, forget the old plan, and create a brand new one. I don't care if they copy and paste other teams successful power play strategies, winning is more important that originality. Find something that works with your player groups.
The season has gone from excitement and looking forward to every game to fear of losing. The young team must remain focused and coaching squad has to find a way to keep them playing loose. The Habs are not playing bad but they can't seem to catch a break. Once that goal stopping dam breaks they appeared primed for a run of wins, but if they start to feel defeated with every great play that ends in a show stopper save against them it will take its toll mentally.
Some have been quick to pile on Carey Price but pardon me while I kindly ask you to "F off with that junk". Stop concerning yourselves with contract against performance. There have been plenty of seasons where Price was the best player on the ice, and in the NHL, and he was paid less than his performance indicated. The player is a living legend on the Canadiens and you only have a set amount of time to enjoy witnessing a player like this play live, for you and your favorite team. He has had an up and down season for sure, but the defense hasn't exactly been watertight in front of him as well. His contract is the same as he would have gotten anywhere else, maybe even less than he could have got if he started holding UFA interviews in MTL before bolting for the best possible deal for him. He didn't do that though, he stuck around despite the bipolar and sometime vitriolic fanbase. He knew what kind of defense he was signing up to play for as well and still stayed. Let's not do our best to drive ANOTHER Canadiens Legend out of town OK?
Give the Price hate a rest or go root for someone else...
IN OTHER NEWS....
World Junior rosters are being announced with Team Canada holding a press conference today to finalize their team.
It will be interesting to see if any Habs prospects make the cut *Cough*Suzuki*Cough*.
Go Habs Go