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Canadiens vs. Sharks 5 Takeaways: Special Teams Loss

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The Habs failed on special teams and lost their fifth in a row.

NHL: Montreal Canadiens at San Jose Sharks John Hefti-USA TODAY Sports

1. The Canadiens were outshot for the first time since opening night.

The Habs have been sporting one of the league’s third-best shots-per-game averages, at 37.8 shots. They’ve also been limiting their opponent to a league fifth best 28 shots on average a game. Last night in their 5-2 loss, the Canadiens lost touch with their ability to control the play, and gave up an onslaught of 14 shots in the first ten minutes of the second period. Penalty trouble, uncertainty and a lack of finish created the conditions for the Sharks to take advantage and break the Canadiens open.

2. The lost threat of Alex Galchenyuk.

It baffles me that Alex Galchenyuk is treated like he’s more of a threat to his own team than he could be to other teams. By burying him on a fourth line with Torrey Mitchell and Ales Hemsky, Galchenyuk must create his own opportunities (which he did a couple of times last night) or make the players around him better to succeed in the position he’s been put in. To see such a natural offensive threat virtually neutralized by his own team is an incomprehensible puzzle that needs quick solving. Is keeping him there really the solution? To me, it seems like the problem.

3. Carey Price is battling.

Last night there were a number of times where Carey Price was forced to take control of the game. It falls on his hands (and pads) often to take control of games. Last night, he was not able to grab the game by the horns during that stretch of 14 shots against (which included a five-on-three) and the battle was lost. Still, seeing Price battle, and fight through the chaos the team in front of him was unable to keep away from his front door, is what makes him a great leader even at times when he falls short of the win.

4. The Habs lost the special teams game.

Large portions of this game were spent with the man-advantage. The Canadiens surrendered one more goal on one more powerplay than the Sharks, and this proved to be the difference-maker in the pivotal second period when both teams were trading power plays back and forth. The Sharks were able to establish a two-goal lead twice. They Canadiens could stand to learn from this game, and recognize the fine line that exists for them between winning and losing. Last night, that line was on special teams turf, where the Sharks came out on top.

5. The Canadiens looked either overwhelmed or unsure.

Regardless of whether they lost this game at the hands of a dominant performance by the Sharks or by their own lack of execution, the Canadiens lost another game and still only have one win on the season. It’s hard to call something that only has six games of momentum behind it a disaster, but unless the Habs start collecting wins soon, the narrative will point in that direction. It’s definitely too early to point fingers, or fully locate a single cause that can be isolated and corrected. There is a very raw process taking place in front of us right now, and I think we can all agree the answers are not as far off, or impossible to imagine as five losses in a row in October might make it seem.