Alexei Emelin’s Recent Play is Hurting the Montreal Canadiens

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MONTREAL, QC - DECEMBER 10: Nathan MacKinnon #29 of the Colorado Avalanche skates the puck against Alexei Emelin #74 of the Montreal Canadiens during the NHL game at the Bell Centre on December 10, 2016 in Montreal, Quebec, Canada. The Montreal Canadiens defeated the Colorado Avalanche 10-1. (Photo by Minas Panagiotakis/Getty Images)

Alexei Emelin‘s recent play is hurting the Montreal Canadiens. Emelin has played a total of 371 career NHL games. This recent stretch of games has been the worst Habs fans have seen in his six seasons in Montreal. In a middle of a playoff race for the top seed in the Atlantic Division, Emelin has picked a bad time to slump.

Since Claude Julien has taken over behind the bench, the Montreal Canadiens have improved. The emergence of Alex Galchenyuk as a top point producing centre and Brendan Gallagher getting back to his old ways can be credited to Julien’s presence. One player in particular that has lost his way under Julien is Alexei Emelin.

Alexei Emelin’s Recent Play is Hurting the Montreal Canadiens

The 6’2″ Russian defenceman is known to punish his opponents, making big hits and being tough to play against. Recently, he has shied away from his game and has now become a liability on the ice. Last night Habs fans saw Emelin single handily give the game to the Chicago Blackhawks. He finished the night minus-three alongside Jeff Petry. Emelin however was the obvious reasons for those goals being scored. Making bad pinches on the first two goals, and leaving Artemi Panarin wide open in front of the net on the third, Emelin is hurting the Habs chances of winning every time he is on the ice.

Alexei Emelin has already sat in the press box once, during last week’s game against the Vancouver Canucks. Since then he has played three games, and has finished minus three in two of those games. He has seemed to have lost confidence in his own game.

The one-time lock on Montreal’s top-four defence pairings has played his way off the ice. With the amount of quality depth at the defence position, Montreal should not hesitate to bench Emelin in favour of other options.

Other Options

Jordie Benn was acquired to be a high depth defender. Since joining the Habs, Benn has played his way pass Emelin in the depth chart. Benn is now a staple on the first defence pairing on the penalty kill with Shea Weber, a spot once held by Emelin. Benn has played solid defensively and makes very little mistakes.

Brandon Davidson is the other defenceman with the team currently. Davidson drew into the lineup instead of Nathan Beaulieu last night. It was only his second game suiting up for the Habs, but played his way into consideration to stay in the lineup. He earned his first point with Montreal last night on Paul Byron‘s goal. Davidson played a solid 15 minutes, earning some minutes late in the game when Montreal needed to score. He brought an element of offensive skill. Quickly getting the puck up the ice to forwards and jumping into the rush, he unquestionably outplayed Emelin last night.

One point separates Montreal and Ottawa for the division lead. With 12 games remaining for Montreal, including three against the Senators, Montreal can’t afford to have a player make crucial mental mistakes, which could eventually impact the outcome of a game.

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