MONTREAL, QC.– After forty games played so far this season, the Montreal Canadiens sit in eighth place in the eastern conference with 45 points, two behind the New York Rangers who sit in seventh, and five ahead of the Carolina Hurricanes who are in ninth position.
The Habs are 21-16-3, a record a little tarnished by the latest skid which has seen the team go 3-6-1 in it’s last ten games.
Let’s take a look at what the numbers tell us so far this season.
|Vs. Western Conference Teams||4-5-1|
|Vs. Eastern Conference Teams||17-11-2|
|Vs. Teams With Above .500 Winning Percentage||10-10-2|
|Vs. Teams With Below .500 Winning Percentage||11-6-1|
Legend: GF (Goals For), GA (Goals Against), Sv% (Save Percentage), GAA (Goals Against Average), GFA (Goals For Average), ASG (Average Shots per Game), PP% (Power Play Percentage), PK% (Penalty Kill Percentage), FO% (Face Off Percentage).
- The current slump the Habs find themselves in has them only winning 3 of the last 12 games.
(They’ve outshot the opponent in 10 of those 12 games)
- The Habs have outshot the opponent in 26 of 40 games this season.
- Habs need to generate more offence, they currently sit at 25th in the league in average goals scored per game, with a meagre 2.5. (They’ve been almost half a goal under this average in the current slump)
- Carey Price also needs to regain his composure, although his stats were stellar all season, in the past 10 games, they’ve taken a huge dive, his GAA being at 3.67 and his Sv% at .864.
(Fans should take note that these stats are not only a reflection of the goaltender’s play, but the entire defence)
- It took 29 games for the Habs to give up more than 3 goals in regulation time. In the last 11 games, they’ve only given up less than 3 in two separate games. They need to find a way to give up less goals, we already know they can’t produce many.
- Special teams have been a huge help for the Habs so far, currently sitting in 10th on the power play, while holding the first overall rank when it comes to penalty killing.
- Habs’ record before Subban was benched: 15-8-3, since: 6-8-0. (Draw your own conclusions)
- Before the current slump, the Habs had a record of 9-1 following a loss, since, they are 2-5.
- Alex Auld has started 3 of the last 18 games, so people can lay off the “Carey Price needs a rest” bandwagon.
There’s no single answer to the Canadiens current issues. Those who think the issues are only on defence, or with goaltending need to look at the numbers. Yes, both need to improve, but the offense needs to as well. As defensive stats are on the rise, offensive stats are on the decline, perfect conditions for the slump the Habs are in.
The acquisition of James Wisniewski helps the team, and provides much needed minutes and offensive production from the blue line, but it’s not the answer. Jacques Martin needs to find a solution to the struggling offense, and so far he has not.
By providing a better offence and better puck possession, the Canadiens can increase their time in the offensive zone, directly reducing their time in the defensive zone. If the opposing team is not in your end, you are automatically improving your defence through offence. This is where Pierre Gauthier and Jacques Martin’s efforts now need to be concentrated on.
With Wisniewski, Pierre Gauthier also called in some help from Hamilton. A man by the name of David Desharnais got to lace the skates for the Canadiens this past Sunday against the Atlanta Thrashers. Before being called up, Desharnais lead all AHL players in scoring with 35 points (10-25), so you would think Martin would use him in an offensive fashion, right?
Incorrect. Jacques Martin placed him on the third line with Benoit Pouliot and Mathieu Darche. Both combined for one shot all game, Desharnais managed three himself. Power play time maybe? None. Martin needs to better use the assets that are at his disposal. (Just ask Andrei Kostitsyn and Lars Eller.)
As cliche as this may sound, everybody needs to play better for the Canadiens, if they hope to find themselves back on the winning track. Starting with the goaltender, the defencemen, the forwards and the head coach too.
The Canadiens are not out of it yet…
The Habs host the Pittsburgh Penguins on Thursday (January 6th) at 19:30 and then the Boston Bruins on Saturday (January 8th) at 19:00.
(Graphic: Francois Lacasse/NHLI via Getty Images)
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