1. Every player with any connection to the city of Montreal always scores in his first game in Montreal.
A local kid coming into Montreal for his first pro game? Just give him the goal... How many times has this happened now? Yeah, I’m looking at you Anthony Beauvillier.
2. Claude Julien’s 1000th game.
During the ceremony honouring Claude Julien’s 1000th game it hit me that this is the first time the Canadiens have had a head coach behind the bench who coached his team to a Stanley Cup victory since Jacques Demers. It’s too bad his team couldn’t go out and get the win for him, but if there are a few coaches out there I trust to turn around a slump like this and he’s one of them.
3. The defense was active.
The defense was responsible for 15 of the Canadiens’ 27 shots on goal and directed over half of the team’s shot attempts. In fact, when it came to controlling the play, the Canadiens were pretty good last night, beating the Islanders 61-46 in shot attempts in all situations, and 55-38 five-on-five.
4. Weber and Emelin were finally separated.
Finally. The Isles’ second goal may have been the last straw, as Weber and Emelin backed into the zone in unison, and forgot about Anders Lee behind them. The lack of chemistry there was on display enough for Claude Julien to see it’s not working. Beaulieu is a good option as a puck-moving defenseman, but he’s struggled with consistency, so his status as a long-term solution is certainly tenuous even though he looked good alongside Weber in the third period.
5. A second line I could get used to...
Alex Galchenyuk and Brendan Gallagher started the game with Paul Byron, but another Julien change made mid-game involved swapping out Byron with Artturi Lehkonen. That’s a line I hope can produce because it seems to have everything you’d want in a second line, with the skill and shot of Alex Galehchenyuk, the tenacity and edge of Brendan Gallagher and the responsible play of Artturi Lehkonen.
6. The penalty kill has changed forms.
From a diamond, to a square; from passive, to aggressive. Which one works better was obvious last night, as the Habs killed two penalties and the penalty kill was one of the only bright spots in last night’s performance.
7. The Canadiens struggle to create offense seems to be latched to their identity.
Why is it so hard to score goals? It’s not like the Canadiens don’t work hard enough to score, but something is missing, a spark that only top-end talent can provide. But what’s available right now? The Ottawa Senators are about to leap over the Habs in the standings, and could very well make a move in the trade market as they take a chance on what’s already been a surprise season. Either way, the Canadiens need to shake this off, and fast.
8. The Canadiens have only scored 14 goals in the last 10 games.
I don’t know if anything more needs to be said about that, but when you watch a game like last night you can see how it’s possible to score so few goals.
9. They’ve been shutout five times over the last 20 games.
It’s also easy to see how the Habs have been shutout at a rate of once every five games since the beginning of January. It’s been a tough stretch, and watching them last night it was hard to figure out how exactly you snap a funk like they are in at the moment. There’s no punch, none at all, and if you can’t punch, how can you win the fight?
10. The Canadiens have the personnel to right the ship.
Last night was a bad performance, but as bad as that performance was, I’m think the personnel involved with the Montreal Canadiens right now is capable of righting this ship. Carey Price, Shea Weber, Max Pacioretty, Claude Julien. Those are some pretty good names to be involved in fixing things.
Marc Bergevin is also key. Getting that final piece of the puzzle comes down to the general manager making a deal. This is going to be a big week for Bergevin, with the March 1 trade deadline looming.