The Montreal Canadiens have lost their season series with the Flyers, the Maple Leafs, the Islanders, and now the Penguins. The Penguins are the only team the Canadiens have played that they were unable to beat at least once, although I think it's more than fair to say they deserved one win of the two previous one goal losses.
They did not however, deserve to win last night.
I know people would rather freak out and blame players and coaches, and in many ways, they're right. There have been an extraordinary number of defensive lapses. There have been a ton of missed chances. There have been mental mistakes. There have been soft goals.
But all of these things happening at once IS variance. Not everything is poor play.
Score effects are a factor when you get down by a goal early in every game, but the Canadiens have significantly outpossessed all three opponents they've faced during this run of blowout losses. They've produced 30 scoring chances at even strength while allowing 29.
You could argue that the scoring chances the Canadiens gave up were of higher quality, and against the Flyers especially, I would agree with you, but let's look at some of the goals.
Douglas Murray tosses a wrist shot from the point that's going 5 feet wide until it deflects off of two Canadiens players and in. That's a blind luck play.
Wayne Simmonds takes a low percentage shot on Carey Price that he stops easily, but the rebound comes right to him and he blindly tosses the puck out front. It banks off of Nathan Beaulieu and in. At the top of Price's game, he controls that rebound, but the goal is getting burned by a bad bounce.
The puck takes a weird bounce over Josh Gorges' stick behind the net, and Claude Giroux is there to put it out front to Jakub Voracek on the goalmouth. How often does the puck hop like that on Gorges?
Price is in position in the VH stance that he's had success with, he has his angle covered, but Komarov's shot finds the tiny hole that's available in this stance. We can fault Price and say he should have squeezed tighter, maybe he could have, but that's a puck finding a hole, not Price giving one.
This is only 4 of the 18 goals the Canadiens have allowed in this stretch, but if those goals don't go in, the Penguins game is a one goal affair, and the Flyers game is completely different.
This isn't taking anything away from those opponents. They were there, they scored those goals, they tallied their wins, but luck plays a part.
The Canadiens' even strength shooting percentage over the last 3 games is 7.317%. Their even strength save percentage is 78.689%. This gives them a PDO of 860 over that time.
No matter how lousy a team is playing, that is absurd. It's something that won't continue.
At it's high point this season, the Canadiens had a 1030 PDO. We've said the whole year that it wouldn't last, though secretly hoped that it would hold out for a shortened season, but that's 30 points over what's considered the mean for an average team. The current run of play is 140 points below that. That's equivalent to shooting at 20% and getting .940 goaltending over 3 games. If the Habs did that, would be be shouting from the rooftops that they're "just executing better"? No. We'd be saying they're shooting the lights out and getting incredibly lucky while the goaltenders stand on their heads.
So enough with the panicking. 5 more games remain, then it's a countdown to 16 wins. Maybe they win those 16, maybe they less than 4, but this isn't 2009.
Check out PensBurgh for reaction from the winning side.