What is Wrong with the Montreal Canadiens?
By Patrick Hoffman
Everyone knows that the Montreal Canadiens are the league's most storied franchise.
Just look at all the Stanley Cups they have won, all the Hall of Fame players/coaches/management/broadcasters that have been involved with the organization, and the millions of fans that they have. You put all of these things together and you have an extremely proud franchise.
Nowadays, the team is singing a different tune. In fact, it's a horrible tune.
As of this writing (January 3, 2018), the Habs are 16-20-4 with 36 points. Standings wise, they are the third worst team in both the Eastern Conference and the entire National Hockey League.
So, where did this team go wrong? For starters, they are not putting the puck in the net.
The team is currently (January 3, 2018) 27th in the league in goals for with just 100 goals in 40 games played. That means the team is averaging just over two goals per game, which puts them 27th in the league in that category as well.
Players like Alex Galchenyuk (9 goals and 13 assists for 22 points), Brendan Gallagher (15 goals and 6 assists for 21 points), and Max Pacioretty (8 goals and 13 assists for 21 points) need to do a lot more for this team because no one else is doing much of anything up front. The team is not scoring enough goals, not putting enough pucks on net, and not generating enough quality scoring chances night in and night out.
The team has also struggled on the penalty kill, which is obviously a big part of every NHL team's game. As it stands today (January 3, 2018), the team is 26th in the league on the penalty kill with a 77.6 percent kill rate, which is not good enough to win on a consistent basis in this league.
What's also worrisome is that star netminder Carey Price has been off his game almost the entire season. His numbers are very un-Price like at 11-14-0-2 with a 3.01 goals against average, a .906 save percentage and one shutout.
Yes, Price, 30, was hurt for part of this season, but even when he has been healthy, he has not been great. Normally, Price would be the one to cover up his team's mistakes, but this season, he has not been there to help his club win games.
At this point, no one in Habs land, whether it's the team's fans, writers, bloggers, broadcasters, etc., knows what needs to be done in order to right this sinking ship. There are so many questions surrounding this team that no one seems to know the answers to:
- Will the team fire general manager Marc Bergevin?
- Will the team fire head coach Claude Julien?
- Should the club trade Pacioretty?
- Should the club trade Galchenyuk?
- What should the team do about Price?
So many questions and not enough answers are what's making this team sink to near the bottom of the league. While there is no doubt that this franchise has accomplished so much in its history, it's not about the past anymore.
The Habs need to figure out what to do about the present. The time might be right to to start over and rebuild this franchise into something their fans can get excited about.
I'm not sure what they are going to do. What I do know is that their team has been awful this season and they have given both me and their fans no reason to believe that anything will change in the near future.
Previously, Patrick has covered the NHL for Sportsnet.ca, Kukla’s Korner, Spector’s Hockey, About.com, NHL Network Radio blog, TheHockeyNews.com, The Fourth Period, Stan Fischler’s “The Fischler Report”, as well as a slew of others.