Canadiens at Bruins - The Warmup - What do these losses mean?

Justin K. Aller

The Canadiens have lost 3 of the last 4 games after being on fire for essentially two months, what's going on?

So what's up with these Montreal Canadiens right now? They've been severely outplaying their opponents, but they keep on ending up in the L column.

Fans are searching for answers right now, but the real answer is pretty simple, it's random variation that occurs in a game as complicated as hockey. A lot of people don't like that answer, or find it unsatisfying, but it's the truth.

You can see this variance clearly if you look at 10 game rolling averages for the Canadiens' shooting percentage at even strength:


It's likely no coincidence that for most of the Canadiens' undefeated streak that they were shooting the lights out. For nearly a third of the season the Habs have been shooting at over 10% at evens, which just doesn't last, unless you're the Maple Leafs, who seem to be immune from regression because the world is stupid.

Then there's that insane drop, which happened almost entirely within a 4 game sample. The thing about hockey is that the average is something you get to at the end, but everything in between is peaks and valleys.

We can do the same thing with save percentage:


As you can see, Price has been in a bit of a slump over the time when the Habs were shooting the lights out. If he would have played at around his season average, the Canadiens would likely be on a streak similar to what the Pittsburgh Penguins are currently experiencing. Luckily, Price is beginning to dig his way out of this slump, which could cover for the below average shooting conversion the Canadiens are currently experiencing.

What's slightly frustrating about this string of losses, is that the Canadiens have been playing their best possession hockey of the season:


The Canadiens have been floating between 50% and 54% for most of the season, but recently have gone on an absolute tear that puts them in glory days Red Wings territory nearing 60% of even strength possession.

Even with the dice consistently coming up snake eyes, this kind of performance is going to result in more wins than losses down the stretch, so don't start freaking out. Then again, no team is quite that good, so don't expect a 60% Fenwick team going forward.

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