Montreal Canadiens Disappointing Season

The Montreal Canadiens disappointing season started with the same optimism that any new season may offer. However, in the second game of the season, the Canadiens suffered their first loss, a 2-0 shortcoming to the New York Rangers on the road. What came next was a historically terrible start to the season, including eight straight losses. The record equalled a mark that had been set in 1941, during some of the darkest days of the franchise. This season has been plagued by injury, bad trades, terrible offence, and management being questioned repeatedly.

Montreal Canadiens Disappointing Season Trudges On

Recent Woes

Fifty-seven games into the season, it appears the Canadiens still haven’t gotten it right. On Thursday night in Phoenix, the last place Arizona Coyotes handily took care of Montreal 5-3. Carey Price let in five goals on only twenty-one shots. This comes as Price’s eighth straight loss on the road. Max Pacioretty took two useless penalties and they directly resulted in two goals for the Yotes. Claude Julien also looked absolutely exhausted physically and mentally on the bench in Arizona.

The Canadiens played admirably in the third period against Arizona, but that’s not good enough after the first two lacklustre periods. The defensive play in the second period was terrible. The road team was clearly moving slowly and failing to control the pace of the game. A poorly operated penalty kill by Montreal resulted in this one-timer by Tobias Reider.  

The Coyotes made Montreal look inferior and often beat them in necessary battles. When the Canadiens mounted a comeback in the last period, Antti Raanta yelled at his team from the net, and then they scored two goals to put the game away on Thursday night. Arizona’s head coach Rick Tocchet commented on his team’s response to their goaltender saying, “That woke our team up. I love that.”

This spark is not evident anywhere on the Montreal Canadiens bench. On Wednesday, Claude Julien said this postgame in reference to the scoring issues, “whether it’s confidence, or bearing down, or shooting quicker, or having patience. Those are the things that they have to figure out. They’re frustrated as much as we are.”

Numbers

Going into Saturday’s game in Vegas, the Canadiens boast a measly .447 point % losing twenty-eight of fifty-seven games in 2017-2018. The league average is .559%. Offence is clearly an issue for Montreal this season, the Canadiens are ranked 29th in the NHL for 2.5 goals per game. Gallagher is the leading scorer this season with 21 goals and only four other players are even in double digits. Andrew Shaw (10 goals) has been injured since Jan 15th, so he has been unable to help his team. Fortunately, he’s projected to be back in late Feburary/Early March which is earlier than originally expected.

During key absences, it was expected that young stars such as Alex Galchenyuk and recent trade acquisition Jonathan Drouin would step up. That has not happened this season. This season, Galchenyuk has registered 33 points this season. This is still good enough to tie Gallagher for second in team scoring, just one point behind Pacioretty.

Drouin was acquired from the Tampa Bay Lightning, who had drafted him third overall in the 2013 NHL entry draft. Drouin felt he was unable to prove himself in Tampa and he hoped Montreal would give him a chance to play more. This season his numbers are well below what he was performing last season with Tampa. His 28 points are fourth in team scoring. This just goes to show how anemic the Habs offence has been this year.

Claude Julien either doesn’t know how to coach the team he has or he doesn’t have enough on the bench to work with. I’ll let you decide. Either way, Julien is on pace for the worst full season he’s ever coached. The team still only has 52 points on the season and are on a four-game losing skid.

Looking Ahead

As fans around the league optimistically think about the fast-approaching postseason, what can Canadiens fans do? Two things:

  1. Hope that general manager Marc Bergevin is able to work some magic and trade for strong prospects or draft picks for the future.
  2. Watch their underperforming team and hope they develop some chemistry and confidence resulting in more goals.

Playoffs

Don’t worry, someone did the math for what it would take for the Canadiens to make the playoffs. Even back on Jan 20th it looked bleak, sadly its only gotten worse.

 

MONTREAL, CANADA – APRIL 26: A Montreal Canadiens fan reacts to a goal being waved off in a game between the Boston Bruins and the Montreal Canadiens in Game Six of the Eastern Conference Quarterfinals during the 2011 NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs at the Bell Centre on April 26, 2011 in Montreal, Canada. (Photo by Phillip MacCallum/Getty Images)