RECAP | Oilers – Canadiens: Habs Are Winless in Eight, Again

Canadiens Lineup

Forward lines

Tomas Tatar – Phillip Danault – Brendan Gallagher

Ilya Kovalchuk – Max Domi – Nick Suzuki

Artturi Lehkonen – Jesperi Kotkaniemi – Nick Cousins

Ryan Poehling – Nate Thompson – Jordan Weal

Defence pairings

Marco Scandella – Shea Weber

Brett Kulak – Jeff Petry

Victor Mete – Cale Fleury

Goaltenders

Carey Price – Charlie Lindgren

Scratches

Dale Weise

Injuries

Paul Byron, Jonathan Drouin, Matthew Peca, Joel Armia, Ben Chiarot

Game Report

For the second time this season, the Canadiens have lost eight straight games.

Which losing streak was worse? Does it matter? Simply put, Montreal was dreadful defensively in November going 0-5-3. January’s struggle is 0-7-1 (ongoing) featuring fragile confidence and poor decision-making.

As we look for answers, what do those two bad stretches tell us?

First, it’s clear that the team is underachieving right now. Injuries are a convenient excuse but the Canadiens are only middle of the pack in terms of man games lost and impactful injuries. Poor decision-making and a lack of confidence can both be traced back to coaching.

With respect to poor play from the Canadiens defence, that is all on the general manager. A top-pair left-handed defencemen has been a critical need for at least two season and Marc Bergevin has done nothing about it. After after his recent bandaid, the Habs remain without a top quality partner for Shea Weber.

Tonight the Canadiens were able to stay with the Oilers for 40 minutes taking a lead into the second intermission. But Edmonton controlled play for the remainder of the game with the Habs fading.

Fans point to Montreal’s 37 shots on goal as some sort of moral victory. Corsi nerds celebrate the Canadiens coming out on top in shot attempts for the bazillionth straight time. But despite all of the shots, the Habs came out on the short end of the high danger scoring chances once again.

So what does this tell us?

It’s clear that Claude Julien’s ‘shoot from anywhere’ system is not viable. Crown him the Corsi King and send him on his way.

In addition, it is evident that the roster has been poorly constructed with respect to forwards as well as on the back end. Say ‘adieu’ to Marc Bergevin and try to rid the organization of as many of his mistakes as possible by the trade deadline. 

Fill the holes created with deserving prospects from Laval. And play the Canadiens young guns in their natural positions as much as possible to gird them with very valuable experience. 

Coming into this game, Montreal had a four percent chance of making the playoffs. They are on track for 84 points, meaning that they will miss the playoffs for the third straight season. That is the fourth time in the past five years that there will not be playoffs at the Bell Centre.

That is unacceptable.

There is still a way to extract value from this season. On an interim basis, put the club in the hands of Trevor Timmins, the most knowledgeable hockey person in the organization, and Kirk Muller, the coach who has a deep bond with the young players. Immediately start a search for a President of Hockey Operations allowing Geoff Molson to step back.

Hiring Bergevin with zero experience as a general manager was a mistake. The mistake was compounded by re-hiring Julien, a coach whose system and preferences never were a match for the talents of his players.

It’s time to give Canadiens fans hope that positive change is coming.

Plus / Minus

▲  Carey Price, Artturi Lehkonen, Jesperi Kotkaniemi, Shea Weber, Brendan Gallagher 

▼  Victor Mete, Nick Cousins, Nate Thompson, Cale Fleury, Victor Mete, Ilya Kovalchuk, Phillip Danault, Max Domi