Has the Canadiens third major slump of the season reached rock bottom?  It’s hard to imagine the team coming up with a worse effort than they put in Saturday against Washington; a game in which they managed a season low eighteen shots.   Eighteen shots on goal is bad but, in the post-lockout NHL, this is an increasingly irrelevant statistic.  Teams, especially the Canadiens, consistently win games while being outshot.   For instance, the opposition outshot the Canadiens in fifteen of their forty wins this season.

A few years ago, American television invented something called “scoring chances” which takes away those shots that have no chance of getting past the goaltender.  It’s an unofficial statistic.  Those of us who cover the games from the press box have too many things to concern themselves with to try isolating scoring chances. 

Fortunately we have Olivier over at enattendant lesNordiques.blogspot.com to do the work for us.  In his post game analysis of Saturday’s game, Olivier  reported that the Canadiens had only one scoring chance in the third period Saturday in a game in which they trailed only 1-0. According his count, the Canadiens, on home ice,  had just three chances in the first period  and a total of ten in the game.  We all knew the Canadiens were horrible  but, that bad?  Can there be any wonder why the fans were booing them? 

  One can destroy millions of brain cells in the process of trying to figure out why teams go into prolonged slumps.  They can be caused by injury, scheduling or just plain old  disfunction.

The Canadiens have suffered three major collapses this season.  They lost eight of ten in December,  immediately followed by a 10-2-3 run.  From the 6th to 24th of  February,  they won only two of eight games (2-5-1).  That was succeeded by a five game winning streak.   And now we’re in it again.  Three wins the last nine games (3-6-0), three straight shutout losses and the city of Montreal is back in panic mode. 

Will the Canadiens snap out of it?  History tells us they will.  Question is “when?”  Last season they won only three of their last eleven games then regained form in the playoffs.  Before this year’s playoff round, they’ve got six games to get their act together.

 The Scoring Chance –  Described as a shot taken in a home-plate-shaped area that goes from the top of the faceoff circles through the faceoff dots and then angled to the goalposts.  Also included in the definition is any shot taken by the attacking team on an odd-man rush, either 2-on-1 or 3-on-2.