The Canadiens have averaged 39 shots on goal in their four games this season and have only four goals to show and two of those were scored while they were killing off penalties.
The anxiety of fans to fret about the sparsity of goals is natural but the Canadiens have created enough chances and have enough of their forwards playing well for me to believe they’re going to snap out of it eventually.
What concerns me more is the defence.
The Canadiens were in total control against Chicago late in the first period. With 2 ½ minutes remaining they were outshooting theym 15-5. Two serious defensive breakdowns in a seventeen second span and a 1-0 lead turned into a 2-1 deficit. For the final 42 minutes the Hawks had the luxury of playing with the lead. Their third goal was another horrid breakdown by the defence and now the Canadiens are 1-3-0 to start their season. There was one bright spot. Brandon Davidson, who had a horrible training camp, seems to have found his way back.
The Canadiens lost whatever confidence they had in their game after those quick goals late in the first period. By the start of the third period Claude Julien decided to do the shuffle. Lehkonen moved up to play with Drouin and Pacioretty; Hudon dropped down to play with Shaw and Danault and Plekanec had Hemsky and Byron as his wingers. It was Hudon who seemed to benefit from the change the most. Four of his five shots on goal came in the third period and that earned him the game’s second star. Will Julien stick with his shuffled lines for Toronto? Interesting question. Shots on goal in third period were 16-6 in favour of the Canadiens, but still no scoring.
It’s beginning to sound like a broken record. By the end of the game Alex Galchenyuk wound up on a fourth line, with his third period ice time limited to five shifts and 3 minutes. This was Galchenyuk’s 340th regular season NHL game and we still have no idea what kind of player he is, or can be. We do know he has a good shot; one that allowed him to score 30 goals a couple of seasons ago. We know he has great puckhandling skills. Those are the good things. We have also learned that on a scale of one-to-ten his hockey sense ranks at around four which is about where we would put his defensive ability. . And, if anything, It shows in his on-ice body language and his attitude.
And all of this begs the question. When do the Canadiens give up on him and move on. He’s not a centre. His play at left wing has been horrible. Claude Julien’s only remaining option is the right side which would be his off wing. That smacks of desperation to me.
Kirk Muller was brought back to the team with the hopes that the power play would resurrect itself. They were successful for half of last season. Since then they have fallen back into hard times. Nothing doing in 5 advantages in this game including a half minute of five-on-three. Now they are 0-for-14 to start the season. Is it personnel or tactics? Probably both.
It’s Toronto Saturday night. A failure to win there and things could get really ugly. The next three games will be in California. If you haven’t been paying attention. Since the lockout the Canadiens have won 3 of 15 games out there. Only one of those wins came in regulation time. Not a pleasant time to be dealing with a slump.