Last night’s Game 3 loss was a heartbreaker, but not a fatal one. As a matter of fact, the Montreal Canadiens’ shot attempts improved over the course of the night like a fine wine. In the first period at five-on-five, they had a 33.3% Corsi-for percentage. In the second, it went up to 38.5%, and in the third it skyrocketed to 82.6%. The expected-goals-for percentage (xGF%) followed much the same trajectory as the Corsi, culminating in the third with 84.2% in all situations.
You’ll notice I listed the shot attempts at five-on-five but switched the xGF% to all situations. Why did I do that? Because otherwise it wouldn’t take in to account the absolutely torrid pace of high-danger shots taken once the goalie was pulled.
One area of concern that I still have is deployment. In the last article I talked about Jesperi Kotkaniemi, now I want to talk about Tomas Tatar.
Before this game there was a report that Tatar was going to be scratched. Then it was released that he was going to play. If the coach was going to scratch him to light a fire under his butt, what’s the point of lighting that fire and then barely playing the player?
Tatar had one of the prettier plays of the game to set up the Nick Suzuki goal. Corey Perry sent the puck to the blue line where Ilya Mikheyev tried to stop it. Tatar not only skated diagonally across the whole zone, but then put his body between Mikheyev and the puck. This set him up for a short pass to Perry, who was in a better position to hit Suzuki with a pass.
For the second game in a row, Tatar led the Canadiens in possession stats. He was also third on the team in xGF% behind Joel Edmundson and the debuting Caufiled. So it’s no wonder his ice time from Saturday’s game went up last night. He went from 11:27 all the way to ... 13:15.
Now we have to ask the question: did he only put up those great numbers because he was sheltered? That would be a resounding “no” considering that the number-one forward he played against at five-on-five was Auston Mathews. In his minutes versus Mathews, Tatar controlled a perfect 100.0% of the attempts. Mathews put up 61.3% Corsi for when he was playing against other opponents.
Last night, the other two members of the big line struggled statistically. Gallagher had a 47.1% Corsi-for percentage, and Danault’s was worse at 37..1%. This leads me to think that Tatar’s role in this group is about as underrated as Ringo’s. Here’s hoping for a reunion tour in Game 4.