I had a curious thought after Tuesday's loss to the Lightning upon hearing about a certain player's plus / minus stats over the current three game losing streak. The notion led me to check out who have been the best and worst players plus / minus wise, in the 14 games the Canadiens have lost in regulation this season.
Surely, the plus / minus stat will always be viewed with some suspiscion, as it ties a team responsability, which is defense, and attaches to an individual. There will always be mitigating circumstances that cast doubt on their validity, but arguments in or out, a trend is always a trend, and extremes either way speak for something.
If a particular player's stat is either very good or very bad in this, it does say something about how a player performs when the team is losing. Beyond the statistical, anyone having seen the team play this season, can point to games where if a certain player plays badly, the team loses. I found the results of this research worthy enough to point out.
So in order of jersey number, here's the deal. The points in brackets are goals and assists earned in the particular losses the player played in.
Ryan O'Byrne has played in only 8 of the team's 14 losses, and is -7 in those games.
Tom Kostopoulos (1-0-1) has been involved in 12 losses and is -3.
Mike Komisarek (0-1-1), due to injuries, has played in only 8 losses, and sits at -6
Saku Koivu (3-3-6), owner of the teams best plus / minus before being hurt, is -4 in 9 losses.
Alex Tanguay (3-4-7) has played in only 6 of the 14 losses, and is -1 in those games.
Tomas Plekanec (1-0-0), who is having a horrid season offensively, has played in all 14 losses and is -5. Of note, Plekanec is only -1 in the last 11 loses.
George Laraque I did bother with.
Robert Lang (2-4-6) has played in all 14 losses and is -5. In three of those loses, he has been a plus player.
Chris Higgins (0-2-2) has taken part in only 7 of those losses, and is -2.
Steve Begin (1-0-1) has played in ten losses and is -1. He was a healthy scratch in four losses.
Mathieu Dandenault I did not check out.
Josh Gorges (1-3-4), owner of the team's best plus / minus for most of the campaign is -3 in 14 losses. He was +1 until the three games losing streak in which he went -4 in those games.
Alex Kovalev (2-4-6) is -6 in 14 losses.
Matt D' Agostini (1-1-2) has played in 8 losses and is -6.
Maxim Lapierre (1-0-1) has played in 13 losses and is -10
Roman Hamrlik (0-0-0) is -8 in the 13 losses he had played in. He is -4 in the last three games.
Andrei Kostitsyn (1-0-1) has played in 13 losses and is -9.
Francis Bouillon (0-1-1) is
Patrice Brisebois (2-2-4) has played in 12 losses and is -6.
Max Pacioretty (2-0-2) is -3 in 5 losses.
Sergei Kostitsyn (0-2-2) is -12 in 14 losses.
Andrei Markov (0-7-7) has played in all 14 losses and is a team worst -13.
Guillaume Latendresse (2-0-2) is -1 in 14 losses, tied with Steve Begin for the team best. Latendresse has three plus games in losses.
Keeping in mind that a players numbers usually correlate to icetime, here are the things that stand out above the norm.
Sitting out Begin seems to have little merit. He hardly seems to cause losses statistically, but with four in the L column when he's scratched seems to point that he's missed. It is just too common an occurance.
The Kostitsyn brothers have horrible minus stats in games the Canadiens lose. Andrei has fared better, as he is -4 in the last three games, and his previous minus games were scattered without any discrenable sequences. Sergei, on the other hand, is more concerning. While it is assumed that he is sounder defensively than his brother, the number that I found pointed to him being consistently unreliable in losses. Not only is he a cummulative -12 in those 14 losses, he has been a minus player in 11 of those games.
I expected Plekanec's number to be much worse when I started looking into this, but contrary to my initial guesses, he hasn't been as bad as I thought of late. One thing is undeniable thought, with only one goal to show in 14 losing games, he sure isn't producing when it matters most.
Not coincidentally, the Canadiens player who benefits from the most icetime, in all game situations, has the worst minus stat on the club. Andrei Markov, who is shifted on both the PP and PK, as well as taking a regular turn, has had minus games on eight occasions. He's been -1 twice, -2 five times, and -3 once. There have been two losses where he was +1 in each. In addition, the minus game numbers do not tie into Komisarek's absence, as Markov has had three -2 games when paired with Komisarek. Perhaps Markov is not as reliable when overtaxed.
The conclusions, from this, are yours to draw. For myself, I see a few of these things changing perceptions.