Looking back at when the Canadiens were winning games earlier in the season, the game against Philadelphia was oddly similar to the game last night against the Blackhawks, only the roles were reversed. Early on, the Habs were pouring it on, choking the Hawks off, getting great chances, owning the puck.
About 27 minutes into the game, the Blackhawks suddenly seemed to remember that they're a much, much better team the Canadiens, and well coached to boot. From that point on, it was a slaughter. At that point, the Canadiens led in shot attempts 33-20, while for the remainder of the game, the Blackhawks crushed them 40-17. For those without calculators handy, that means the Blackhawks, while already leading in the game, dominated 70.2% of the shot attempts. In unblocked shot attempts, or Fenwick, it was 32-11 in favour of the Hawks, that's 73.8%.
The Blackhawks are cup contenders, but they aren't that good. Outside of games against the Sabres, with the parity that exists in this league, no team should be able to do that to another team, especially one that made the conference finals the year before, it's embarrassing.
In the post game press conference, Therrien remarked that his team didn't show the usual character that they've been showing once down 2-0, completely missing the point that they've allowed the first goal 11 times in 13 games, been down by two goals or more in six of 13 games, and haven't had a single lead in five full games, and only one lead in their last seven.
Habs superfans who get upset when anything negative is written about the team jump all over themselves to point at the record, the Canadiens are 8-4-1, how is that bad? Well they won three of those games in shootouts, which are coin flips. They could just as easily be 5-4-4 right now, one point ahead of Toronto, with two more games played, and one fewer win.
The Canadiens' goal differential when you discount shootout winners is an ugly -12 in just 13 games, which is tied with Edmonton for 28th overall in the entire NHL, only Arizona and Buffalo are worse, Carolina is better, and none of those teams have Carey Price consistently saving their bacon.
That 8-4-1 record still looks pretty okay, but it's beyond precarious. By this time next week the Canadiens could easily be 8-7-1, with a game against Boston incoming that Thursday. It's worthwhile to note that last year's Canadiens began the season by going 8-5-0 in October, and they were considered to be a struggling team by fans, in spite of all 8 wins coming in regulation, and a +20 goal differential.
That team was also dealing with injuries to Alexei Emelin, Daniel Briere, and Max Pacioretty. Essentially what I'm saying is, this roster is way better than that one, so the expectations are higher, and the process should be better, but it's worse.
Impartial work done by Benjamin Wendorf, a hockey analytics guru, has again and again proven that Michel Therrien has been one of the worst coaches in the modern era of the NHL, and it's getting incredibly difficult to not be bombarded with all the evidence of this.
It may seem like a small problem on the surface, but this team is supposed to be a contender right now, and Dale Weise is playing on the first line. It's lunacy.
There are a lot of people who believe that I have it out for Therrien, when the truth is I'm absolutely sick of calling attention to the obvious. It's boring, tedious work to continually attempt to find new ways to show how the Canadiens' should be better than they are.
Therrien prides himself on being a motivator more than a tactician, it's all about playing the right way and taking pride in your role. Yet after losses he has mentioned multiple times that the team has been unprepared. Based on their being scored on first 11 of 13 possible times, and their general no-show plays in first periods, this is more than a problem of just the last few games, it's been all season. So if master-motivator Michel Therrien can't have his troops prepared every night, what is his purpose? That's why he's here.