Michel Therrien was stating the obvious in his post game news conference when said the Canadiens have to get more offense from their second and third lines. It’s been there for all to see for the last three months and again front and centre in the 4-2 loss to St. Louis Saturday night at the Bell Centre.
Talk is cheap. Solutions are another matter.
And at this point, Therrien has no answers for mess the Canadiens offense has become outside of the All-Star performances of Max Pacioretty and Alexander Radulov.
After the Sunday game at Boston, the Canadiens will take that mandated four day break in their schedule and general manager Marc Bergevin has some heavy thinking ahead.
It’s obvious that the atmosphere surrounding the team has to change. He can do that in two ways; make a trade that will shake up the dressing room or fire his coach. I’m not sure Therrien is the problem. Night in night out the Canadiens work ethic has been there even if the results are missing.
But as the adage goes, “You can’t fire the whole team” and like the very-capable Ken Hitchcock and Claude Julien in recent days, it’s the coach that usually is the one to go.
Trade or firing? Whichever path Bergevin takes, we can expect some interesting days ahead as we approach the March first trade deadline.
It’s impossible to get past the fact that the Canadiens have lost nine of their last 13 games at home and in the 42 games since the Canadiens 13-1-1 opening act they have won 18 and lost 24. What was a massive hold on first place in the Atlantic Divison is down to six points and the Ottawa Senators have four games in hand. There are 25 games remaining on the schedule. Continuing on the path they are on could easily lead to missing the playoffs entirely, especially if Toronto goes on some kind of stretch run.
WORTH THE ADMISSION –
Every fourth shift, Max Pacioretty and Alexander Radulov get on the ice and invariably put on a show that breaks the boredom supplied by the sputtering efforts of the other three forward lines. The Canadiens scored two goals against the Blues. Pacioretty and Radulov were on the ice for both of them, The line produced 80 percent of the Canadiens scoring chances. Pacioretty scored his 28th goal and over the last couple of weeks has inserted himself into the race for the Rocket Richard Trophy. Heaven forbid if he goes into one of his periodic scoring slumps in the season’s final 25 games.
In the last 11 games the Canadiens have scored 24 goals. Radulov and Pacioretty have scored 12 of them. Add one goal for Danault and five more from defensemen it leaves a total of six goals over the last 11 games from the bottom three lines; two of them from Alex Galchenyuk who has played in eight of the eleven. Whatever might be said about the coaching, there is a very serious personnel issue with this team as well.
….Al Montoya has been one of the bright spots for the Canadiens since December. Not this night. He was weak on all three goals including the first one in which he took an embarrassing pratfall leaving the net wide open for Patrick Berglund.
….Again, it’s hard to criticize the Canadiens effort in the game. They were in it from start to finish. But they never had the lead after Montoya fell down on the game’s opening goal. In the third period they outshot the Blues 16-7 but came up empty.
….The best news was the game that Galchenyuk had. Although stuck between Artturi Lehkonen and Paul Byron who are in long term slumps, he showed signs of returning to his early season form. Hard for Galchenyuk to do it alone and Lehkonen has one goal his last 15 games and Byron one goal in thirteen.
On to Boston to face the Bruins who will also be playing their second game in two days. Like the Blues, the Bruins are riding the wave of a coaching change. Under Bruce Cassidy they’re undefeated.
After the Bruins, it’s a four day holiday. Seventeen days to the March first NHL trade deadline.