Montreal played a fairly dull road game on Friday night in Buffalo, and came away with a 3-0 win, which is all well and good. Saturday night they jumped all over the Captials early and then deflated after a goal was taken back by an offside challenge. They gave up four straight goals, scored another, and proceeded to give up two more.
Poor defensive-zone coverage, a lacking penalty kill, and uninspiring goaltending all combined once again, and the Washington Capitals took full advantage. Tom Wilson pounced on two bad turnovers for wide-open looks from the slot, and got two goals out of it, while Evgeny Kuznetsov had enough time and space on his pair of goals that the NHL announced the Seattle NHL team was ready for expansion.
They’re the same errors happening night in and night out, typically with the same players involved, and to that point it’s obvious where the first off-season change needs to be made.
Anyone involved with the handling of this defence and the penalty kill should be sent packing immediately upon the end of the season. For the Canadiens, those duties fall on the shoulders of one J.J. Daigneault. He’s been around since Michel Therrien was initially hired, and has bounced around various roles since, but it’s clear his time has run its course, and the team is actively hurting in the areas he manages.
Sure they put together a solid effort late in the game, and made it a closer contest, but when glaring flaws put you in a hole, where even four goals aren’t close to enough to get you out of it, there’s a serious issue. This team can’t win if the goaltenders are going to be forced into playing flawless hockey every single night. Right now, Carey Price is clearly not at the top of his game, and the team is doing little to cover for that.
If the right changes aren’t made it isn’t going to matter if the Habs win the lottery and select Rasmus Dahlin; he’ll end up in the same broken system that doesn’t play to his strengths. Change things up now, or the cycle of mediocrity will continue, where just making the playoffs seems to be a lofty goal for a club that used to accept nothing less than a Stanley Cup.