Monday, October 30, 2017

Kings Give Habs Reality Check

Date: 26/10/2017
Opponent: Los Angeles
Location: Bell Centre
Loss: 4-0

Montreal Goalie: Price (L)
Los Angeles Goalie: Quick (W)

Montreal goalscorers:
Los Angeles goalscorers: Kempe, Toffoli, Kopitar, MacDermid

Pre Game

We all wanted to see the game against Florida as the first step to breaking out of this slump.  We all wanted to see Carey Price return to form.  We all wanted to see the offence fly and fill the net.  I, of course, was no different.  I hoped, against hope, that the Canadiens had found their groove and would find away to win against L.A.

And as hopeful as I was I was also nervous, because it still didn't seem like this group had regained it's confidence.  This team is a couple of slip ups, every night, from getting blow out and I certainly hoped that this would not be the case tonight.

Dome hockey team

The 6 players we're playing in a no changes, do or die contest in the dome


Alex Galchenyuk

He had one of the best plays of the night in the third period and very nearly beat Quick.  He also wasn't on the ice for a goal against.  That was a rarity tonight and while he might not get as much playing time against the opposing top players, that's through no fault of his own.

Michael McCarron

Mike did his job.  He won more than 50% of his faceoffs (the only other Habs to do that tonight were Gallagher and Galchenyuk), and he hit bodies.  We need to start off with the puck more and we need guys on the ice who don't let the other team score.  It's hard to win games when you're picking the puck out of your net all night.

Brendan Gallagher 

Another solid game for Brendan.  He's getting the puck on net, he's owning the puck in the offensive zone and he's responsible in his own zone.  We don't have much brilliance to work with tonight so instead we'll take hard work and attention to detail which Gallagher has in abundance.


Jeff Petry

Petry was just solid tonight.  Nothing really special but no real big mistakes either.  That kind of solid hockey is the best we can ask from our blueline tonight.

Karl Alzner

Karl was relatively mistake free as well tonight.  Combined with Petry they were our best pair which says as much about the rest of our defence as it does about Karl.


Al Montoya

Price, instead of making himself big, over committed to a blocker save on the first goal and once it was tipped had no chance of compensating or even having the puck hit him due to his poor positioning.  He was too far over on the short side on the second goal.  Two mistakes late in the first period squandered a good start and effort by the Habs.  Sure, Price isn't the only one making mistakes out there, but with a contract like that come certain expectations and he is not meeting them.  Had a different goalie been in net and not made those mistakes this game might have had a different result so we're going with Monty in the dome.

After the First 10

Montreal's record after the First 10 games is 2-1-7.  That is good for 30th out of 31 teams and says more than anything I can add in the following paragraphs, but I shall try.  They are a -20, on pace to finish the season a -164 which is mind blowing.  They are 29th in power play efficiency (12%), 20th in penalty kill (79%) (the Toronto Maple Leafs are 26% and 83% respectively).  They have scored a measly 17 goals over the first 10 games (last in NHL) and have allowed 38 goals against (27th).  They have five meagre points so far.  They are last in the Atlantic Division, last in the Eastern Conference, and only the Coyotes are worse league wide.


Forget about Pacioretty scoring 30 goals regularly or that Galchenyuk reached that pinnacle too.  Forget about Plekanec's years of loyal service.  Forget about Drouin and Danault being hometown heroes.  Forget about Gallagher's gritty enthusiasm.  What have you done for me lately?  Gallagher is our top goal scorer with 3 (on pace for 24), Drouin our top point getter with 7 (on pace for 70), Hemsky has the best +/- from anyone who's played more than half the games with a -1.  Pacioretty has taken 43 shots so far this year which equates below 5% shooting percentage.  Byron leads the way in that department scoring on nearly 24% of his shots.  Hudon is the most physical (27 hits), Plekanec has blocked the most shots (7), Danault is the best in the faceoff circle (49%) and also has the best turnover differential at 2.  No other regular has a positive turnover differential.

We don't have one forward in the top 25 for goals, points, or plus/minus.  Max Pacioretty is fifth in shots taken but has a shooting percentage so low you have to wonder if there's anything more productive they can do with the puck other than pass it to Max for him to shoot.  Here's some food for thought.  Alex Galchenyuk is fifth in the league in power play goals.  Anyone else wondering why he's not on the first power play unit?  Charles Hudon has proven to be a nice, physical energy player and is in the top 25 in hits thrown for forwards.  Both Thomas Plekanec and Jonathan Drouin are losing too many faceoffs (both in top 25 for faceoffs lost, not there for faceoffs won unfortunately).  Our turnover differential by even our best players, is terrible compared to the best in the league.

I would give Charles Hudon a C for at least attempting to do his job and I'd also give Galchenyuk a C for being effective on a terrible power play despite mismanagement.  There's not one other forward, up until this point in the season who I can honestly say deserves a passing grade without having to stretch some positives and overlook some negatives.  At the 10 game point of this season I would give the Montreal Canadiens Forwards an F.


We have a second all star on this team.  He's just coming out of his prime years but he is still a defensive juggernaut.  Shea Weber leads Canadiens defencemen in just about every stat.  Most shots, most goals, most points, best shooting percentage, most hits, and most blocked shots.  He is a one man wrecking crew who plays about 30 minutes a game.  Too much in my opinion, but after him the pickings are pretty slim.  Weber is in the top ten for goals by a defenceman but with his equally high (or higher) shot totals I think he might be forcing too many through.  Despite that he's picking up his game on the power play due, in no small part, to the addition of Drouin as quarterback.  He's second in the league in hits (by a defenceman) and Petry cracks the top 20.  Weber is also top 20 in blocked shots.  As good as he's been, he can't carry this defence core on his back.  He needs help and so far this season, it doesn't look like he's getting any.

I'd give Shea Weber a C+.  Hard to give him much more than that when you take a look at his plus/minus and give away differential.  The rest of the defence gets an F.  You could argue that Mete deserves a passing grade seeing as how he's a junior call up and playing pretty good but I'm not convinced his early success isn't at least mostly due, perhaps entirely, to playing with Weber.


When we are talking about goaltenders for the Montreal Canadiens we are talking about Carey Price as Al Montoya hasn't really played enough minutes for a fair assessment.  When you look for Carey Price in his familiar place among the league leaders he is no where to be found; not in winning percentage, goals against average, or save percentage.  This is very uncharacteristic of Carey, once the man who was in charge of handing Montreal wins they had no business having can now be seen costing Montreal points they seemed sure to get.  I think the man needs to sit down with a sports psychologist and he might well be doing so.  I saw a brilliant Habs net minder lose his confidence once before and to the detriment of himself and our team, Jose Theodore never regained his form.  Of all the problems Montreal currently has, this, by far, is the most worrisome.  Nevertheless, his play has not been indicative of someone with such a lucrative contract or even a starting goaltender for that matter.  I think he's been the victim of a lot of poor play in front of him, however, so I'll give Carey a D. 


I'll lump coaching in here as well.  I think Claude Julien is trying to figure this team out.  He was thrown into the mixer last year and while he did manage to turn the team around and stop their slide he was unimpressive in the playoffs.  This year he's been handed a very different team than the one he took last season.  He's lost some veteran presence on the blue line and didn't gain anything up front.  I understand him continuing to play Pacioretty despite his short comings this season.  I liked how he mixed up his lines recently.  I think he gave them a solid chance and recognised that they just weren't working (actually awful).  I like his move to put Drouin on the point on the power play.  Weber needs a good passer to feed it into his wheelhouse and that's what's happening now.

Here's where Julien is falling short.  He needs to mix up the defence like he's juggled the forwards.  The defence aren't meshing.  I know defence takes a little while to work out sometimes but some of these pairings are godawful and would have to work their way up to just being bad.  The special teams are brutal and that's a coaching issue.  They're not even respectable.  He's got to get that sorted out and soon.  Finally, until he figures out what to do with Alex Galchenyuk who is one of the most offensively gifted players on the team I won't be pleased with him as a coach.

Overall some good things, more bad things but I'd give Julien a C-

Bergevin, however, is a different story.  At the end of last year we had an all world goaltender, a decent defence core and needed improvement up front.  So what did he do?  He traded away one of our starting defencemen for a third round draft pick.  Let another starting defencemen go in the expansion draft who could have been retrieved for a third round pick and refused to sign a third.  That's half of the defence gone.  The defence he assembled is so bad that our all world goaltender is struggling to regain his confidence after the shellacking he's taken over the first ten games.

We needed offence, so the first thing on Bergevin's plate was to not offer Radulov an offer to match Dallas until after Radulov had agreed to sign with the Stars.  He did acquire Drouin but at what cost?  It was a lateral move for starters.  I don't see Drouin scoring more points than Radulov this year and we lost Sergachev.  This isn't another Ryan McDonagh.  Sergachev is going to be better than Subban will ever be and as good as Weber ever was in his prime.  This is a franchise defenceman that was traded for a good centre who's biggest draw to Bergevin was his place of birth.  If you combine his off season mistakes with his hand in mismanaging Galchenyuk (remember, we need offence) and if there was anything lower than an F, he'd have it. In case you're keeping track, Sergachev has 2 more points than Drouin so far this season.

It's only 10 games though.  There's still another 72 games left to turn this thing around.  There's always a top team that folds after Christmas and there's always a bottom team that takes off in the second half of the season.  Let's hope that team is the Canadiens this year.


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