Montreal Canadiens: Midpoint Thoughts

As the Canadiens approach the 41 game mark, or “halfway point”, I feel it is time to evaluate the team so far. The Canadiens currently sit at 26-12-2, with 54 points, good enough for second in the Atlantic, and second in the east. I will be giving this evaluation in three parts, firstly, the offensive production of the team, this will include everything from goals for to puck possession statistics. Secondly, I will be evaluating defensive aspects of the team. Finally, I will look at the special teams.



The Canadiens have been scoring more as of late, and therefore have increased these statistics, Montreal has scored 110 goals on the year, which puts them 7th in the league. However, they’re only averaging 2.62 goals per game, 19th in the NHL. In order to keep on winning, depth scoring must emerge. Of the 110 goals scored, 52% come from Subban, Pacioretty, Galchenyuk, Plekanec, or Gallagher. Some believe “fancy stats” do not say anything, in some instances that might be correct, although Montreal is averaging 27.9 shots per game, 21st in the NHL. So Montreal has 110 goals on 864 shots, a shooting percentage of 13%. There is no way that this rate will hold, and when it goes back down to around 9-10%, Montreal will be in trouble. This must be improved. As for Corsi, the Canadiens sit at 49%. For those who don’t understand the stat, in a nutshell it outlines if you are getting more shots on net than your opponents. Montreal is tied with Vancouver for lowest Corsi for teams that are currently in the playoff picture. To win games, you must out chance your opposition. The Canadiens are not doing that, and of all things that Montreal needs to do is improve the possession numbers, which in turn will lead to more shots, which turns into more goals, which win hockey games. If you’d like to know more on advanced stats you can visit “the most complete database of advanced hockey stats”.

Offensive grade: B – Good, but could be better



All joking aside, where would this team be without Carey Price? Price has been the number one reason why Montreal are where they are in the standings. Price is 2nd in the NHL in wins, 3rd in GAA, and 3rd in save percentage, and Price has stolen games this season where the Canadiens had no business winning. The defensive coverage with the exception of Subban, Gilbert, and Beaulieu has been awful, and it needs to be improved. The defensive core for the most part is very old and slow, and don’t get me started on Emelin. I think in order for for this team to improve there needs to be changes in the defensive core, starting with the demotion/trade of Alexei Emelin and the promotion of Jarred Tinordi from Hamilton (who was unfortunately one-punched vs Utica). He is bigger, stronger, faster, younger, and better on both sides of the ice. Although Montreal has been very good, goaltending has played a huge part in this, The Canadiens are allowing 2.30 goals per game, 3rd in the NHL. As I was saying, the goaltending this season so far has been fantastic. The tandem of Price and Dustin Tokarski have been arguably the best in the NHL. They have formed an effective one-two punch, especially in the back-to-back games. I literally have no suggestions for changes in the goaltending department. However, my suggestions for the defense as a whole is having the right personnel, using the personnel effectively and having better defensive strategies, but that falls to Therrien and his staff.

Defensive Grade: A-, goaltending is a A++, defensive coverage brings it down


Special Teams:

Montreal’s special teams have been a tale of two, the fantastic penalty kill, and the abysmal powerplay. The penalty kill has been wonderful this year, hovering at 85.6%, 6th in the NHL. An issue I do have however is that although the current personnel have been successful, it could be even better. Removing Emelin from the group and adding Beaulieu would add a more mobile and smarter option, as well as groom Beaulieu’s development into a two-way threat. As for the powerplay? The powerplay has been dreadful, at 14.2% they are 27th in the league. There are a lot of things wrong with the unit right now, so let’s start with looking at the group used on the man-advantage. Montreal is one of the only teams that doesn’t stack up their powerplay lines. It blows my mind that Sekac and Beaulieu do not see substantial time here, while Gilbert does pose somewhat of a threat, it is obvious after 40 games that it’s not working. Insert Beaulieau on Gonchar’s powerplay pairing and positive results will most likely follow. As for the forwards, in his limited ice time, Jiri Sekac has shown he can be a huge offensive threat. Give him the extra minutes alongside Plekanec on the secondary powerplay team. With more ice to work with he will make himself known. The Habs have a hard time entering the zone on powerplays. It seems their main strategy consists of waiting in there own end for a stretch pass, even when there’s no option. Therrien needs to find a new way of moving the puck when up a man. When the Canadiens do gather significant zone time, it is a mess. Before, the Habs would cycle the puck in the zone and look for a Subban one-timer. That worked very effectively, before teams started figuring it out. Now only on odd situations is PK open for a shot, this is when you need to adapt. Work the puck down low, have Pacioretty in a shooting position. The powerplay was a key in the playoffs last year, and if the Habs expect to make a deep run, the powerplay needs to be improved. Big time.

Special Teams: B-, penalty kill is fine, powerplay needs serious work.


Overall Grade: B+
Team is heading in right direction, but improvements need to be made before the playoffs in order to compete.

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2 Responses to Montreal Canadiens: Midpoint Thoughts

  1. Agreed… Montreal is certainly going to have to figure out their powerplay and tighten up defensively before the end of the regular season if they plan on making another serious run for Lord Stanley.

    Marc Ranger January 12, 2015 at 9:21 am Reply
  2. Your first half analysis is bang on. Abysmal is a perfect description of their PP and needs to be solved ASAP.

    Yervant Aredjian January 13, 2015 at 9:50 am Reply

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