RECAP | Devils – Canadiens: Habs Julien ‘Tired of Losing’

Canadiens Lineup

Forward lines

Tomas Tatar – Phillip Danault – Brendan Gallagher

Artturi Lehkonen – Max Domi – Nick Suzuki 

Nick Cousins – Jesperi Kotkaniemi – Joel Armia

Charles Hudon – Nate Thompson – Jordan Weal

Defence pairings

Ben Chiarot – Shea Weber

Victor Mete – Jeff Petry

Mike Reilly – Brett Kulak

Goaltenders

Carey Price – Keith Kinkaid

Scratches

Christian Folin, Cale Fleury

Injuries

Paul Byron, Jonathan Drouin

Game Report

That’s six straight losses for the Canadiens. There’s nothing to indicate that the losing streak will be ending anytime soon. And then the Montreal schedule gets tough in December.

So what’s the problem? 

Many will focus on Claude Julien’s emotional outburst saying, “I’m frustrated as hell, right now! I’m tired of losing!” No doubt that he was expressing the feelings of his players and many Habs fans.

But the coach was rather explicit in assessing the deficiencies of his team during this losing skid.

Post-game, Claude Julien said that the Canadiens play without the puck is the primary problem. According to the head coach, the skaters are making coverage mistakes (there was a boat-load of odd man rushes against tonight), making poor decisions and, in some cases, are trying to do too much.

With respect to fixing these problems, Julien said that it is the coaches’ responsibility to develop solutions, and it is up to the players to trust the solutions.

But then Claude added, that the players are not doing the things that we are teaching.

So, the messages to the players, the corrective ones, the ones that will help end the mistakes (and the losing streak) are not getting through. The coach is saying that his players are not trusting him and his staff.

That’s a major problem. And when it occurs, a coach is most often shown the door. But there’s more.

Let’s go back to the statement that some players are trying to do too much. Is it fair to say that some players on the roster, such as Mike Reilly, Brett Kulak, Charles Hudon (for starters) are being put into roles (out of necessity) that are beyond their capabilities?

Very simply put, it is a lack of talent and an abundance of marginal bodies.

It wouldn’t be the first time this season that Julien has hinted (not very quietly) that he doesn’t have the roster to compete. Tonight the coach added that Montreal has not been good defensively all season, but that it has obviously been much worse for the past two weeks. 

Those are issues that are in the wheelhouse of the general manager. There should be no debate that the off-season was a colossal failure for Marc Bergevin. Julien may have lost the room but it’s clear that Bergevin has lost his way.

For the better part of almost eight years, Bergevin has avoided serious scrutiny by stacking excuses like cord wood. And since the owner likes to dabble as a part-time co-GM, Molson has preferred to keep Marc firmly attached to his hip.

But there are storm clouds. Tonight was the seventh of 14 home games that failed to sell out. Empty seats at the Bell Centre is the type of thing that gets Molson’s attention.

The administration has also started receiving negative comments from season ticket holders. That’s another thing that causes an owner to take notice.

A six-game losing streak, a poorly constructed roster and players who have stopped listening are not things answered by a call-up from Laval. Something must change. Significant action will be needed soon.

Plus / Minus

▲  Jesperi Kotkaniemi, Artturi Lehkonen

▼  Mike Reilly, Brett Kulak, Jeff Petry, Ben Chiarot, Max Domi, Tomas Tatar