With the Montreal Canadiens backs against the wall, they need to regroup. Following splitting the first four games, the Habs let the New York Rangers slip away with the win in overtime in Game 5. The Canadiens will be heading back to New York facing elimination. If the Canadiens stick to the right game plan, they should have no reason why they can’t go home for Game 7.
Montreal Canadiens Regroup Needed
The Lack of Offense
In order to get to Game 7, the Habs will need their key players to step up. Players like Max Pacioretty and Andrew Shaw will need to show more for this team offensively. This is especially the case for Pacioretty who only has a single assist in five games thus far. Pacioretty is expected to be a leader on the offensive side, he has yet to get going. There would be no better time for him to produce than in Game 6.
As for Shaw, he was expected to put up points come playoff time for the Habs, when he was acquired. However, Shaw hasn’t been a big factor during this series recording no points through five games. He would be another player who could make a difference in pushing the Habs to Game 7.
While the scoring in the series has been fairly low, the Canadiens need it to be stronger to force a game seven. The previously mentioned Pacioretty will need to break his slump but others as well such as Alex Galchenyuk. While, he has three assists he has been unable to put the puck in the net.
He was expected to be one of the team’s top goal scorers alongside the captain, but the two of them only combine for four assists among them. If the Habs want to win the series, these two players need to find the back of net. As for the secondary scoring from Brendan Gallagher and Artturi Lehkonen, they will need to continue their pursuit. When they score goals in their middle six roles, it takes pressure off Pacioretty, Galchenyuk, and Alexander Radulov. While, Radulov has scored, the other two have lacked their ability to finish. In order to win there needs to be an overall balance but the top guys need to step up to the next level. This isn’t happening right now.
A solution for the offense
One of the possible ideas for the Habs forwards to find success would be to reshuffle the lines. In a spot of being against the wall, the Canadiens head coach Claude Julien should consider shuffling the lines if things are faltering in the game.
It would be a good idea because the lines have struggled to score on a consistent basis. A good move would be to keep Lehkonen with Tomas Plekanec who he has had great chemistry with. Either Radulov or Gallagher could compliment that line. With how all four players are playing it could easily be the team’s top line. Then Pacioretty and Galchenyuk could highlight an offensive second line with the cast-over from the other line.
The Canadiens should load up their offensive lines with players who are producing on one line. While, the other should include the others who need to break out of their slump. It could be very beneficial as it will create new line dynamics. However, it will possibility create the top two lines from opening night. It’s not likely that Julien actually attempts to make these moves, however they could be successful. Another good idea if the Habs win game six would be to try Michael McCarron in the lineup to give more size to the fourth line. Dwight King has still yet to accomplish much in the Habs uniform. Therefore, it might be worth while to give time to a player who could possibly gain great experience from an opportunity like this. He could also give the Habs a little spark with his physicality.
While, Carey Price has had a good playoff performance thus far, he needs to make sure to out-dual Henrik Lundqvist. In this series, there have been many story-lines, but none bigger than Price vs. Lundqvist. Early in the series, it seemed that Lundqvist had the upper-hand on Price which cost the Habs games. The two have very similar save percentages, but Lundqvist’s .944 has a slight advantage on Price’s .936. This is a huge factor of why the Rangers are leading the series heading into Game 6.
However, this is Price’s chance to shine and take over the series. He must outshine Lundqvist in a night, when being faced with elimination. It won’t be easy but Price’s experience at high level tournaments could help him accomplish this feat and take his team to round two. It’ll be a wait and see situation as to whether or not Price can outplay Lundqvist on Saturday night.
MONTREAL, QC – DECEMBER 10: Max Pacioretty #67 of the Montreal Canadiens celebrates his fourth goal of the match during the NHL game against the Colorado Avalanche 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)