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Can the Canadiens be fixed without a coaching change?

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It's going to take a lot more than a three-game losing streak for the Canadiens to fire Michel Therrien.

Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports

This isn't exactly an epic losing streak for the ages. Three losses in a row will often happen to any given NHL team, good or bad. This isn't one where fans of rival teams are gleefully watching to see if the streak can get to ten losses or whatever. This isn't like that. Three losses, of which one was in overtime, and one was to a Stanley Cup favourite.

However, as MathMan pointed out, this team's possession numbers have been garbage for most of a calendar year. Somehow they've kept winning games and made it to the Eastern Conference final last year. Somehow, where "somehow" = Carey Price. Somehow they have 17 points this year and sit in second place.

We at EOTP have been critical of Michel Therrien's decisions over that time, and the general fan base seems to have finally lost patience with him as well. A fun thing to do these days is to read Geoff Molson's mentions on Twitter. Needless to say, there are plenty of suggestions in there for what to do about this team. A lot of people think the head coach should be fired.

"It's Montreal, of course they want his head on a platter after a three-game losing streak," other teams' fanbases and media might say. In fact I may have seen this very sentence float by after the game last night. They're obviously not paying attention. It's not just about a losing streak. It's about a terrible but lucky performance, for a year. If this team posted the results its underlying stats predicted, this coach would have been toast last December.

The problem is that all things considered, the coach getting fired without the aforementioned losing streak for the ages seems like an unlikely scenario. Common sense would say that Marc Bergevin has given Michel Therrien as many tools as possible to succeed, and that he is failing. Common sense would say the baffling lineup decisions Therrien has been making speak for themselves. Common sense would say these terrible performances night in and night out would get any coach fired. The results say otherwise, and that's why I have little hope that the coaching situation will change any time soon.

Think about it. The way it usually works is you need a nice long losing streak, or a few losing streaks that happen in quick succession. You need the team to fall out of playoff position in the standings. You need some drama, maybe a scenario where a player criticizes the coach publicly or maybe he angrily talks back to him on the bench. You know, something the media can jump all over and the optics end up being that the coach has lost the room. You need the customary trade involving a third or fourth liner to send the wakeup call. And then you need another losing streak to show that things still aren't working.

I don't think Marc Bergevin could come out and say, "I fired the coach because the team's cumulative Fenwick is a tire fire. The team has wins, and it has points, and it reached the conference final last year, but I got rid of this guy and hired someone who may or may not speak French because of the team's shot attempt differential, which is something most of you have never heard of and almost none of you care about." I don't even know if he cares about any of those things. There isn't even any evidence that there's an analytics guy on staff. We don't know how forward thinking this team's front office is, even though we occasionally see flashes of hope.

I also don't think Marc Bergevin can come out and say "I fired this coach because he keeps putting Dale Wiese on the first line and he keeps putting Jiri Sekac in the press box and he keeps putting Alexei Emelin on the ice. I fired him because the Habs have lots of wins but they keep dumping the puck in on the power play."

It's just not a likely scenario, despite how glaringly obvious this team's problems are. So the ship has to be righted somehow, with this coach in place. A number of this team's problems appear to be tactical, like the power play and their insistence on dumping and chasing whenever they take possession of the puck. A lot of these players would do better with different linemates or different defense partners, as we've covered ad nauseum on this very site. One problem is that they've been taking a disproportionately large number of penalties lately, which happens when you're constantly behind, and if they generally held possession better that would stop, too.

Basically, all this team needs is a new coach. Sigh.

Since it's unlikely that they're going to go out and get one, maybe the best we can hope for is that they can make their old coach new again. After all, he came into the 2013 season a brand new man. Who's to say he can't do it again?