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The Montreal Canadiens’ 2021-22 season was an unmitigated disaster. After the final game with Dominique Ducharme at the helm, the Canadiens sat at a .256 points percentage and had little going right in any situation; bad at five-on-five, dismal with the man advantage, and porous on the penalty kill. It was very early into the campaign that everyone started looking forward to the NHL Draft, and even then some of the performances were unbearable to watch as the team failed to meet even the lowest expectations in most games. Even though the Arizona Coyotes had loaded their ballast with large contacts of players incapable of playing to ensure they finished at the bottom of the league standings, they still couldn’t sink to the depths at which the Habs finished the season.
In several ways, this year’s Anaheim Ducks team is worse.
Take of the Tape
|45.5% (26th)||Scoring-chances-for %||42.4% (30th)|
|2.83 (26th)||Goals per game||2.27 (32nd)|
|3.45 (23rd)||Goals against per game||4.27 (32nd)|
|14.0% (32nd)||PP%||14.3% (30th)|
|80.2% (11th)||PK%||67.0% (32nd)|
|0-2-0||H2H Record (21-22)||2-0-0|
The Ducks are currently achieving the ignominious feat of ranking last in offence and defence, with opponents averaging two more goals scored per game. They allow a goal on one out of every three penalties they take; Montreal’s abysmal penalty kill managed to at least thwart three of every four last year. The Ducks have lost a game by three or more goals 12 times this season, four of those coming in their last five games. They have just seven wins this season and all have been by one goal. Of those seven, only one has come in regulation; opponents have earned at least a point in 29 of the 30 games Anaheim has played.
For those hoping the Ducks get to add Connor Bedard’s offence to go with that of Travor Zegras, the player many crowned the most exciting in the game last year with his lacrosse goals and NHL Skills Competition showing, things couldn’t be going any better for the team. The Ducks are well on their way to finishing last and getting the same odds the Habs won the first overall pick with last season. But Anaheim actually tried to surround its young players with veteran talent in the off-season to become more competitive, and that has not panned out.
In came Ryan Strome after several 50-point seasons with the New York Rangers to provide some additional scoring. That has amounted to seven goals and seven assists in 30 games, projecting to 38 points in the first year of a deal that pays him $5 million. The Ducks also convinced John Klingberg, one of the hottest free agents available in the summer, to sign with the team on a one-year deal that was supposed to showcase his talents and earn him a larger contract. So far what the defenceman has shown is a team-worst -18 rating and a pedestrian eight points; Kaiden Guhle, Jordan Harris, and Arber Xhekaj all have that many or more in their rookie seasons. It’s looking like Klingberg’s gamble on himself is a losing bet.
For a Canadiens team that is trying to find some consistency in its game, there could be no easier way to have a bounceback performance following a terrible second period last night that cost them a game. The first period was encouraging at least as they prevented the Ottawa Senators from gaining any traction, making that two good starts in a row for them. Now they’re presented with a chance to put it all together.
They’ll be facing a poor man’s version of themselves, one led by a duo of Zegras and Troy Terry that has put up a total of just 21 goals so far. Not only is Montreal’s top forward pair producing at a better rate, Nick Suzuki and Cole Caufield have a worthy complementary piece in Kirby Dach, and the team is beginning to see more regular contributions from those on lower lines as well. Jake Evans, Mike Hoffman, Christian Dvorak, and Josh Anderson have had quality performances in the past few games to flesh out the attack. They haven’t all been clicking at the same time to truly take the next step offensively, but with how mightily tonight’s opponent has been struggling, they shouldn’t need to be firing on all cylinders to get themselves back in the win column.