The stats-guys are being proven right. Almost every one of the forwards that carried the Canadiens to their early season success have gone in the tank.
Max Domi has gone a calendar month and fifteen games without a goal; Brendan Gallagher‘s goal against the Blues was his first in ten games. Paul Byron is at eight games. Tomas Tatar‘s only two goals over the last fifteen came in the same Florida game and the frustrating Jonathan Drouin has two goals over his last twelve games but one of those was scored into an empty net. We had a brief scoring surge from Phillip Danault but nobody was hopeful that was going to last.
THOSE SPECIAL TEAMS
All we need to know about the desperate state of the Canadiens embarrassing special teams was spotlighted in the first period. Shea Weber drew a penalty in the game’s second minute and the Blues scored. On their first power play the Canadiens failed to get a shot. On their second they gave up a shorthand goal within ten seconds. The Blues had the only shot taken on that power play. The Canadiens had 5-on-3 power play for 1:12 in the third period and that one was notable for it’s indecision and it failed to produce a shot. Brendan Gallagher did end the Canadiens five-game 0-for-13 drought but it was a fluke coming off the skate of Alex Pietrangelo.
If anything, the PP is getting worse and is on a path to go below 10% if things can’t be improved.
When your best forward line is Chaput/Agostino/Deslauriers and your best defenceman is Karl Alzner you know you’re in trouble. You can’t expect offense from any of them but at least when they were on the ice play seemed to be tilted toward the St. Louis end of the ice. All of them played as if they had something to prove, something missing from the other fourteen skaters in the lineup. Alzner was playing in his first game since November 23rd.
ALSO WORTH MENTIONING
….Dating back to mid-November the Canadiens have won 12 of 25 games. Among those 12 victories only the overtime win at Las Vegas was against a team currently in a playoff position.
….In the first two periods as the Blues were opening their 3-1 the Canadiens won only 7 of 38 faceoffs which is a horrible 18%. Max Domi and Jesperi Kotkaniemi each won 1-of-9. They were somewhat better in the third period but by then the game’s die was cast. At the end of the night they settled at 34%.
….He wasn’t alone but Jeff Petry had one of those nights. He was on the ice for three of the St. Louis goals. He drew an assist on the Gallagher goal; hit a goalpost late in the first period and was charged with three giveaways.
….Shea Weber looked out of sorts, perhaps the residual effect of the puck he took in the face.
….Victor Mete has yet to score an NHL goal. His best chance ever came off a pass from Max Domi in front of the St. Louis goal.
….This was one of those too frequent nights when his teammates leave all of the heavy lifting to Brendan Gallagher. Gallagher led the Canadiens with six shots on goal of his 11 attempts.
….The Canadiens hit iron twice in the game. Petry hit a post in the first period and Shea Weber off the crossbar in the third.
…..With the loss the Canadiens fall to ninth in the Eastern Conference, a point behind Buffalo and the Islanders. Buffalo has two games in hand while the Islanders have three.
The Canadiens return home for the Colorado Avalanche on Saturday night. They then play back-to-back Monday at Boston and home against Florida. Then it’s to Columbus Thursday and back home Saturday against Philadelphia. It’s not getting easier.