After having a very successful first couple of weeks, the Montreal Canadiens had a very rough four games the past week and are in need of a wake-up call.
While their 3-1-0 record doesn’t show any trouble besides the fact that they lost their first game of the season. However, the play for the most part was concerning from the players excluding Carey Price. The team is looking like it’s back to that narrative that they can’t win without Carey Price. Last weeks report talked about still being undefeated in regulation, and that’s unfortunately no longer the case.
Habs Weekly Report: In Need of A Wake-Up Call
The week started with a 2-1 win over the Toronto Maple Leafs, however the young players on the Leafs controlled the most of the game. Despite the trouble to control the game, the Canadiens won off goals from Alex Galchenyuk and Shea Weber along with the stellar play of Price in net when he stopped 37 of the 38 shots he faced. This game seemed to be just one bad game. However, it got worse from there.
On Wednesday, the Habs played the Vancouver Canucks at the Bell Centre. At the midway point of the game, the Canucks had been outshooting the Habs 24-3. Despite that, the Canadiens started to wake up and scored three goals including an empty net goal which helped them to a 3-0 victory over the Canucks. In the shutout, Price made 42 saves to bail his team out, yet again. The Habs ended up being out-shot 42-22 nonetheless. While the Habs played a terrible first part of the game they still hadn’t learned from their mistakes. That was until they played the Columbus Blue Jackets.
Friday night against the Blue Jackets was just the first of a back-to-back games situation. Al Montoya was starting in net for the Habs so that Price could get a night off and have a well-deserved rest. The Canadiens ended up losing in historical fashion to the Blue Jackets by a score of 10-0. This is tied for their worst loss in their 106-year history, not something you’d expect to be reading after going 9-0-1 to start the season.
The leagues best power-play took advantage of the Canadiens indiscipline in the game, including scoring twice on a Brendan Gallagher double-minor. However, the team just didn’t look like it had any emotion to even put up a fight against the Blue Jackets. They just left Montoya out there to dry, who was in for all 10 goals.
Had the team decided to show some emotion rather than roll over and give up on the backup netminder, maybe this game would have had a different headline to it other than “Nightmare”. Montoya also didn’t deserve the treatment he got from the loss.
Michel Therrien could have decided to pull Montoya after the first period, in which the Habs were trailing 4-0 at that point. Price wanted to go out and help Montoya. Therrien however, wanted to keep him in so that Price would have fresh legs for Saturday’s game against the Philadelphia Flyers. This makes sense in regards to a back-to-back situation, but it destroyed Montoya’s stat line, and probably his confidence as well. Prior to the game, Montoya had a .955 save percentage and a 1.57 GAA. After the game, his stat line became a less than respectable .908 save percentage and a 3.15 GAA.
There is no way that Montoya would’ve wanted to accept this punishment, had the coaching staff not talked to him at some point during the game about their plan.
The Road to Recovery/Wake-up Call?
Following the game on Friday night, captain Max Pacioretty said ” The good news is we turn out and play again at home tomorrow. It’s tough to shake it off when you get scored on that many times but we’ll see what type of group we have when we lace them up tomorrow.”
Much like Max Pacioretty, the rest of the team wanted to turn the page as well. They were hoping it was a wake-up call. However, it wasn’t that easy. Although the Canadiens won 5-4 over the Philadelphia Flyers, the team still didn’t play very well throughout the game, and Price kept the team in the game during a second period in which they only took four shots.
However, the chemistry of Alexander Radulov and Alex Galchenyuk was able to bring the momentum back to the favor of the Canadiens. They connected for a goal to put the team up 3-2 before the end of the period. The duo has remained one of the only few positives this week on the Habs, along with the fourth line and Price.
It’s uncertain if the team actually got the wake-up call from Friday night, and the game on Saturday wasn’t the most convincing. Price did allow four goals and the Habs still won, so that is an improvement in the way of points.
The Canadiens have been lacking emotion a lot this week, and one reason for that is Andrew Shaw isn’t playing his trademark style of play. The reason the Canadiens brought Shaw in was to add grit to the team and since his warning from the NHL, he hasn’t shown much, or any, emotion. Shaw uses his emotion to make himself an effective player and without it he is just another bland third liner. Much like Gallagher he thrives on his emotion, which is why he is at his best when he plays in the playoffs.
If the Canadiens want the best out of Shaw they will need to ask him to bring the emotions back up again. Shaw isn’t a bad player, but he isn’t a player that can play on his skill alone, the way a player like Galchenyuk can. He needs to play a little on the physical and gritty side and he will create momentum for the team like he did with the Chicago Blackhawks.
Another player who should show more emotion is the captain. Pacioretty doesn’t show enough of it out there on the ice. He often seems to float around like he isn’t trying, like on some of the goals that were scored in the 10-0 loss he just seemed like he did not care. Now it’s clear when the captain is in a slump the team does worse on the ice as well.
Pacioretty hasn’t exactly ever been the guy to show a lot of emotions on the ice, as he is more of a goal-scorer. He does, however, have his teammates respect as a leader in the room, but he needs to also show it on the ice. We all know Pacioretty will get his share of goals this season, it’s only a matter of time before they start going in.
The Canadiens were very lucky to have won three of their four games. They had lots of issues with discipline, which could have costed them Saturday night’s game as well. Penalty trouble will likely cause a lot more problems if they don’t fix their discipline issues, which was probably the biggest downfall to the game on Friday. There were issues everywhere this week which will need to be addressed before Tuesday’s game against the Boston Bruins. Those games are always big games for the Habs and they will definitely not want to go into the game having disciplinary issues. The goal should be “stay out of the box”!
Another problem is the left side defensemen, most teams are exploiting the left side because it’s so much weaker than the right side. The only defenseman on the left that is fast enough to fix his mistake, is Nathan Beaulieu. However, he would likely be the trade chip in order to find a better defenseman than Alexei Emelin to play alongside Weber.
In good news, the Galchenyuk-Radulov duo looks to be a reason to be afraid of the Canadiens top line. The two had lots of success during the week, except for Friday night when everything went wrong. Galchenyuk is currently leading the team in points with 11 (4G, 7A) in 12 games. Whereas Radulov is tied with Gallagher with nine points for third on the team.
The Habs will be preparing for its game on Tuesday against the Boston Bruins. Hopefully the Canadiens have received their wake-up call.