How to watch
Start time: 7:00 PM EST / 4:00 PM PST
In the Canadiens region: TSN2 (English), RDS (French)
In the Senators region: TSN5 (English), RDS (French)
Elsewhere: NHL.tv/NHL Live
Sunday night, the Montreal Canadiens were arguably fortunate to escape with a point against the North Division’s worst team. Their thoroughly disjointed and unimaginative effort was capped off with one of the worst overtime periods since the NHL’s adoption of the three-on-three extra frame.
Two days on, there are two questions on the minds of the Canadiens faithful: how does this team recapture their form, and could things get worse?
Tale of the Tape
|55.1% (2nd)||Corsi-for pct.||50.7% (13th)|
|3.35 (9th)||Goals per game||2.35 (28th)|
|2.71 (13th)||Goals against per game||4.00 (31st)|
|19.2% (18th)||PP%||11.0% (28th)|
|77.9% (19th)||PK%||74.2% (25th)|
On a broad level, the Canadiens are playing alright. Their possession numbers have remained strong, not just last game, but throughout their turbulent last five fixtures. That said, strong possession has not translated to the lion’s share of high-danger scoring chances. A team that topped 13 HDCF per 60 minutes at five-on-five seven times in the first 11 games has not surpassed that threshold in its last six, culminating in a miserly 2.73 last time out.
Suffice it to say that the Canadiens are not just victims of bad luck. They have been the instruments of their own demise.
After the game, the players and coaches gave frank — but opposing — assessments of what has gone wrong since their hot start to the campaign. As a result, while the Canadiens are clear that something has to change, it is nigh impossible for an outside observer to really determine what adjustments they will make. Claude Julien does have useful players like Artturi Lehkonen and Brett Kulak that he can slot back into the lineup, but neither is likely to make or break a game by their mere presence. Furthermore, the rapid turnaround means that the Habs are unlikely to be able to integrate any major tactical adjustments.
Whatever adjustments that the Canadiens make, they will have to be between the ears. Will they recall what they did to start the season? Will they try too hard and play a spirited but ultimately disjointed hockey game? Will they shoot at every low-percentage opportunity and bore all of us to tears? Only time will tell.
If there’s a silver lining to be had from Sunday’s debacle, it is that their next opponents are the same as their last ones. There are no new wrinkles to scheme against, no new personnel to plan for, no new netminder to pre-scout. And while it may not feel like it, it is to the Canadiens favour that their next opponents are still the Ottawa Senators and not, for example, the Connor McDavids or Auston Matthewses. The Canadiens will be looking to get back on track against a team that, although they may get Thomas Chabot back in the lineup, still effectively has no fourth line and played Mikey Reilly and Nikita Zaitsev 26 and 24 minutes, respectively, on Sunday.
In short, if the Habs play up to their potential, they should win.