The Montreal Canadiens are a weird team. No one should sugar coat anything about the way they played against the Minnesota Wild on Wednesday night. It was like the two teams were in different leagues entirely. Yet Minnesota's first goal was a complete and utter fluke, and the second one very clearly shouldn't have counted. A bounce and a call go normally and the Habs likely could have been in overtime after a 0-0 regulation tie, probably while giving up about 50 shots.
Part of the reason is that the Wild are a shot spamming team. They're incredibly fast, and control the puck well, but as Chris Boyle pointed out on Twitter, not many of their shots were that dangerous. But it isn't like this is a new thing for the Canadiens. They get out shot almost all the time, especially while the score is close. Their loss to the Wild was the fourth time in 27 games that they've managed under 20 shots on goal. It was the eighth time they've managed under 25 shots on goal. Average teams in today's NHL put up 30 shots per game, which the Canadiens have only managed to do nine times.
Minnesota kept the Habs to just 10 shots on goal through two periods, but the line of Brandon Prust, Lars Eller, and Jiri Sekac was still able to be quite effective. They were so good in the first period that Michel Therrien decided to split them apart and put Jiri Sekac on the top line with Max Pacioretty and David Desharnais, which worked to an extent but was short-lived, because what that line really needed was Dale Weise!
Joking aside, Weise was one of the few Habs who you can say had a very good game, leading the team in possession in both Corsi and Fenwick. He had easy minutes, but with the way the entire team performed, let's take a positive where there is one. With that said, most of Weise's possession dominance was in the third period, while the Wild sat back and played conservative. While the game was close, the only significantly positive players were the aforementioned third line.
Through two periods, the line of Alex Galchenyuk, Tomas Plekanec, and Brendan Gallagher were only on the ice for a single shot attempt. It was ugly. From Gallagher's needless icing 13 seconds into the game, to the continued lack of a zone exit plan, something that has plagued the Canadiens for two years now.
Post game Therrien mentioned he was disappointed with the effort level, which as usual, isn't really the problem. The Canadiens get their butts handed to them tactically nearly every game, and they can't seem to learn what they're doing wrong. Carey Price has been hiding their deficiencies pretty well this season and last, but it seems lately as if their luck is starting to run out a little bit.
In the long run, the Habs going on a big losing streak should be beneficial. It's natural for teams to not make changes while the wins are rolling in, and a string of losses should help motivate them to look in the mirror. Whether that results in personnel changes, a coaching change, or a coaching change of heart, something needs to change for the better.