If they beat the Pittsburgh Penguins Tuesday night at the Bell Centre the Canadiens will equal the 1943-44 Stanley Cup winning version of the team for the fewest games required to reach 15 wins. Through the first 20 games of the 1943 season the Canadiens were 15-2-3. In the first 19 games this season the team is 14-4-1.
While fans are enjoying the ride they are also aware of the team’s myriad shortcomings. Even the players keep repeating that there is a lot of room for improvement.
Most of the negativity comes from the advanced statistics crowd but there are some pretty basic shortcomings that even the most mathematically challnged fan can identify.
The recent winning streak has moved their goalscoring up to 8th in the league but their goals-against ranks 12th. Even with recent games, their power play is awful and hasn’t produced a goal on the road. They are forced to come from behind almost every game.
The analytics people quickly point to a ‘Corsi-for’ puck-possession number of 47.8% which is almost ten percent below the 2nd ranked Penguins (56.3%) who they will play Tuesday at the Bell Centre.
The fact that Marc Bergevin has removed Travis Moen and Rene Bourque from his roster and added Sergei Gonchar tells us the front office is not sitting on any laurels.
Chris Johnston of Sportsnet dropped this little bomb on twitter Monday
Marc Bergevin says he liked Morgan Rielly in the 2012 draft, but listened to scouts with the Alex Galchenyuk pick.
At the time Bergevin was in his second month as Canadiens GM, usually a time when one wants to establish authority. The fact that he bowed to the expertize of his chief amateur scout Trevor Timmins and his staff says a lot about Bergevin’s management style. From the beginning Timmins had Alex Galchenyuk at the top of his list and when he wa still available when the Canadiens turn came at third overall, Bergevin bowed to Timmins and the rest will be history. Toronto wound up getting Reilly fifth overall. He’ll likely be a good talent for Toronto, but Galchenyuk will be one of the league’s major stars.
The buck will always stop at Bergevin’s desk but he has surrounded himself with some of the league’s best talent evaluators in Rick Dudley, Scott Mellanby and Timmins. It’s one thing to have that kind of experience around, it is another to have the self-confidence to bow to their advice and opinion. On the pro level, Dudley and Melanby do a lot of the leg work for the team. Bergevin may assess team needs but it seems to me it’s their input that leads to trades that have brought Tokarski, Weiss, Parenteau, Weaver and Gonchar into the fold.
It is often said that an executive is considered successful if he makes the right decision marginally more than 50 percent of the time. Thanks to what is a clearly a style that includes advice and consultation, even with the Daniel Briere signing, Bergevin’s batting average is up around .800.
MALKIN & GONCHAR
When Evgeni Malkin won his 2012 Hart Trophy, he dedicated it to Serge Gonchar. In his first three years of their five years together with thePittsburgh Penguins Malkin lived with Gonchar and family and they roomed together on the road.
Not so sure about the symbolism of the Tiger but this is the way Malkin honoured his friend’s 800th career point Saturday night.