Hickey on hockey: Habs report card — polar vortex follows sizzling begin


The swashbuckling Canadiens, who tore followers away from Netflix for the primary 10 video games, have morphed right into a boring group incapable of scoring.

Article content material

The Canadiens have accomplished the primary quarter of their pandemic-abbreviated season in second place within the Canadian division, which is sweet.

Proper?

Not essentially.

Heading into Saturday’s rematch towards the Maple Leafs in Toronto (7 p.m., SN, SN360, CITY, CBC, TVA Sports activities, TSN 690 Radio, 98.5 FM) the swashbuckling Canadiens, who tore followers away from Netflix initially of the season, have morphed right into a boring group incapable of scoring targets.

Listed here are some takeaways from the primary 14 video games:

Hitting a pace bump: The Canadiens pleasure themselves on their pace and transition recreation, however the opposition has adjusted and finished a greater job of defending the puck. The result’s fewer breakaways and odd-man rushes. When the Canadiens are pressured to arrange 5-on-5 within the offensive zone, they change into a fringe group going via the defencemen. Pictures aren’t an issue — the Canadiens common almost 35 a recreation to steer the NHL — however there’s little web presence to display screen the goaltender or pounce on rebounds. The Canadiens added dimension throughout the low season, but it surely hasn’t made a distinction within the offensive zone.

Commercial

This commercial has not loaded but, however your article continues under.

Article content material

There’s no place just like the street: When COVID-19 halted play final season with the Canadiens hopelessly out of the playoff image, the group had a greater report on the street than it did at house, a troublesome job in a league that offers a determined benefit to the house group. There was a suggestion that the demanding followers put an excessive amount of stress on the gamers and that visiting groups bought fired up taking part in on the Bell Centre. There are no fans this season, however the Canadiens are nonetheless higher on the street. Montreal has factors in every of its seven street video games, with a 5-Zero-2 report, however is Three-Four on the Bell Centre.

Properly-rested doesn’t imply higher: The Canadiens added goalie Jake Allen to ease Carey Worth’s workload and he has finished his half, with a Four-2 report, a 2.01 goals-against common and a .933 save proportion. As for Worth (Four-2-2) he has misplaced as many video games as he has received, but it surely’s his different numbers which are troubling. He has a 2.84 GAA and an .896 save proportion. He obtained a variety of assist from the offence early within the season however, with defences tightening up, he needs to be higher.

Commercial

This commercial has not loaded but, however your article continues under.

Article content material

The Danault quandary: I’m undecided what anybody hoped to perform by leaking the report that Phil Danault turned down a long-term contract extension with an annual cap hit of US$5 million, however I assumed on the time that he made a mistake by not accepting the deal. At present, I believe it was the largest mistake of his life as a result of his worth to the Canadiens is lowering. Danault went via lot of angst throughout the low season, when it appeared that he would play a decreased function as Nick Suzuki and Jesperi Kotkaniemi assumed extra accountability. It hasn’t fairly labored out that manner. Danault has spent many of the season with common linemates Tomas Tatar and Brendan Gallagher, however the line’s manufacturing has dropped off and Danault’s biggest worth stays as a shutdown centre and dependable faceoff man. With the Canadiens dealing with a salary-cap crunch, there is perhaps higher methods to spend $5 million.

Commercial

This commercial has not loaded but, however your article continues under.

Article content material

Drawing a clean: Talking of faceoffs, the Canadiens aren’t superb at taking attracts. Danault and rookie Jake Evans are above 50 per cent, however the Canadiens as a group rank 27th within the NHL, with successful charge of 46.7 per cent. This has harm them on the ability play as a result of the 2 centres on the ability play, Suzuki (40.47 per cent) and Kotkaniemi (43.07 per cent), each wrestle on faceoffs and, once you lose the puck, it’s troublesome to attain. Montreal ranks 17th on the ability play, with successful charge of 20.eight per cent, which isn’t horrible. However when you think about the expertise stage on the 2 items, it ought to be higher. The penalty-kill has negated near 80 per cent of the opposition’s energy play and ranks 19th. It appears slightly higher as a result of the Canadiens have scored seven short-handed targets.

Bergy the MVP: All of common supervisor Marc Bergevin‘s low season strikes appear to be figuring out. The one factor he did not do was to get extra Vancouver video games for Tyler Toffoli.

phickey@postmedia.com

twitter.com/zababes1

Feedback

Postmedia is dedicated to sustaining a full of life however civil discussion board for dialogue and encourage all readers to share their views on our articles. Feedback could take as much as an hour for moderation earlier than showing on the location. We ask you to maintain your feedback related and respectful. We now have enabled e-mail notifications—you’ll now obtain an e-mail for those who obtain a reply to your remark, there’s an replace to a remark thread you observe or if a person you observe feedback. Go to our Community Guidelines for extra info and particulars on the best way to modify your email settings.