1. At a certain point, this team needs to show some pride
I know this team has personnel issues. I know that they have been crazy unlucky. I know that bounces haven’t gone their way. But there’s no excuse for them to just feel sorry for themselves every time they give up a goal.
These are professional athletes and whenever things start to pile up, you can just see them deflate. I get that it’s a fragile time and that it’s frustrating but they need to push through instead of letting up.
There’s a reason why Marc Bergevin said the answer is in the room. Because there are no answers outside. Claude Julien isn’t going anywhere. There’s no quick fix. Even if a change happens in management, it won’t affect the team on the ice right away.
Sure there are issues with the system. There are issues with the roster. There are issues with just pure luck not going their way. But this team, despite all of that, should still be better than they are. We’ve heard so much about leadership and character. It’s time for them to show it. They can’t have these meltdowns anymore.
2. Brendan Gallagher’s great start is being lost
Gallagher scored again last night, and he now leads the team in points after he already led the team in goals. He’s also playing like peak Gallagher. He’s getting in opponent’s faces, and he’s even very rudely breaking their sticks with his back. That’s what Gallagher does when he’s confident and playing like he is. It’s a shame the team’s lack of success is taking some of the spotlight off of a really resurgent season.
3. The first line is not working and the experiment needs to stop now
The issue when you put your three best offensive players together, like the Canadiens did with Max Pacioretty, Jonathan Drouin, and Alex Galchenyuk is that if it doesn’t work, you hinder yourself all the way through the lineup.
I truly think that splitting them is the way to go. Charles Hudon and Phillip Danault looked great together, and maybe you put them with Pacioretty. You could keep Paul Byron with Tomas Plekanec and Gallagher, and let Drouin and Galchenyuk skate around and find Andrew Shaw crashing the net.
You could also add more offence to the fourth line, but it appears that it’s Daniel Carr’s turn to get the Charles Hudon treatment.
4. The power play needs to put more pressure on the opposition
The Canadiens have so many weapons on the power play, but they aren’t creative enough. Last night, Galchenyuk and Drouin switched positions, passed the puck back and forth but never really forced the penalty killers to move the box. How you create opportunities on the power play is to make the opponents move so that someone can find the space vacated and be open, taking full advantage of the extra player.
Teams play a box on the penalty kill for a reason. It allows them to cover everyone the best they can. The way to score on the power play is to disrupt that box the best you can.
The Canadiens need to move without the puck instead of standing around waiting for someone else to make a play. Get creative. Have fun. It might even lead to more scoring chances.
5. Something has to give with Victor Mete
Victor Mete is in a situation that is hard to manage. He will absolutely dominate junior if he were to go back, but he’s not quite good enough at the NHL level. And even worse, the things he needs to work on, he won’t be able to in junior because he’s better than most everyone there.
With the team recalling Jakub Jerabek a few hours ago, and the return of David Schlemko really, possibly, actually, maybe close to happening, they have the depth to send him to Canada’s World Junior team and possible back to the London Knights all while he knows exactly what he needs to be working on to get better when he gets back to the NHL next year.
Him playing under 10 minutes in the NHL isn’t going to ruin his development, but when you are already without your 25-30 minute-a-night workhorse and you have to rely on five defencemen for most of the night, it’s not a recipe for success at the NHL level and this team can’t afford to handicap themselves anymore.
But, hey, at least Alex Radulov didn’t score.