Like so many in today’s NHL, Claude Julien is a systems coach. His system may be a little more complicated than some but when it’s operating efficiently we’ve seen the Canadiens win a lot of hockey games.
What we have seen over the last eleven days and five straight losses is a progressive deterioration of the Claude Julien system, culminated (one would hope) with back-to-back home ice losses in which the Canadiens gave up fourteen goals in six periods.
Julien likes to describe his design as based in “good puck management”. That ingredient was mostly in Tuesday night’s home ice 8-1 loss to the Bruins.
Actually, like Saturday night’s 6-5 loss to the Rangers, the Canadiens against started well but, after giving up a late first period goal and two more in the first 70 seconds of the second period almost the entire team lost it’s competitive appetite reverting to going through the motions in the game’s final thirty-eight minutes.
The Canadiens have taken only two of the last ten available points. At season’s end they could be looking back at November 2019 in the same way they did last season when they also dropped five November games in a row.
The Canadiens held a wide edge in play through the game’s opening fifteen minutes but that penalty killing thing again reared it’s ugly head. First Brendan Gallagher went off in the seventh minute and Shea Weber completely misread the play in front of the net leaving Jake Debrusk wide open to score the game’s first goal. Weber atoned for that four minutes later but then the referees gifted the Bruins with a terrible tripping call on Nate Thompson and David Pastrnak scored to make it 2-1. It turned out to be the winning goal. The Canadiens were tailing despite holding a 12-5 shots-on-goal advantage. But the backbreaker was probably Boston’s third goal at 19:23 of the period. It was the eleventh time this year the Canadiens allowed a last minute goal, by far the most in the league. Then the Bruins scored goals at 0:08 and again at 1:10 of the second period and Carey Price was out of the game. And so were the Canadiens.
For the most part critics have been cutting Carey Price some slack because of the leaky nature of the Canadiens defense. It is time to face the fact that there are NHL backup goaltenders who are playing better than Price is at this stage of the season.. Yes there were mistakes made around him and two of the goals came on the Boston power play but there were five Boston goals scored on only eleven shots. Price at his best would have stopped three of them. Noting that Price’s concentration level was extremely low, Julien gave him the hook after the Bruins made it 5-1. . Price now has a season GAA of 3.07 and a save percentage at even .900. In the month of November when the Canadiens were supposed to make hay in the standings, he’s posted an .887 save percentage.
….With two more in this game, the Canadiens have allowed 21 power play goals this season in 24 games. As noted before, giving up nearly a power play goal a game is not conducive to nailing down a playoff spot. Shea Weber has been on the ice for sixteen of them.
ALSO WORTH MENTIONING
….The Canadiens have been outscored 25-12 during their five game losing streak.
….After 24 games the Canadiens record is 11-8-5. Last year it was also 11-8-5 after 24 games.
….Carey Price was pulled from a game for the first time in 112 starts (Dec. 9, 2017 vs. Edmonton).
….November has not been kind to Price. Last year he was 4-4-2 in November with a 3.64GAA and .886 save percentage. In November 2018 he was 3-5-2, 3.81 and .886.
….It’s been just over fourteen years since the Canadiens gave up eight goals on home ice (Jan. 31, 2006 – Carolina 8-2).
….Since his trade from the Canadiens Jaroslav Halak has a record of 6-0-0 in games against Carey Price.
….The defense pairing of Jeff Petry and Victor Mete were each minus-4 as were linemates Max Domi and Nick Suzuki. Domi and Suzuki were on the ice for each of the game’s last four goals after they were considered the Canadiens best two forwards Saturday against the Rangers..
….Petry had his worst night of the season. His giveaways led the the Bruins third, fifth and sixth goals.
….As usual Brendan Gallagher played a full sixty minute game. He had eight shots on goal (six in the first period) and was still battling in the final period when the game was out of reach. Twice in the game he limped to the bench after being hit by shots from his teammates including once in the ribs on one of Shea Weber’s blasts.
The Boston game was the first of seven in eleven nights for the Canadiens. The Canadiens host New Jersey again Thursday and Philadelphia Saturday night before playing in Boston Sunday. Next week it will be home to the red-hot Islanders Tuesday and Colorado Thursday before facing the Rangers at Madison Square Garden Friday night.