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What's wrong with P.A. Parenteau

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With just 15 points in 40 games, and only one goal in his last 22, the Habs aren't getting enough from P.A. Parenteau offensively, but why?

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As P.A. Parenteau's goal drought stretches to 16 games, you can tell based on the player votes after games, the comments here, Twitter, Facebook, and on other sites, that pressure is mounting on the 31-year-old forward to produce a whole heck of a lot more in the second half of the season than he did in the first.

Photo credit: Data from stats.hockeyanalysis.com

The 30 point pace that Parenteau is currently on in his first season with the Montreal Canadiens likely strikes him as a nightmare. He's been bounced around the lineup like a rubber ball, but for the most part he has been used in an offensive role, and getting over two minutes per game on the powerplay. Yet his production has been awful.

After Parenteau's even strength production per minute rising each year of his career since breaking in with the Islanders, it has come crashing down this season to around the same level he was at as a rookie who played just 250 minutes in 2009-10. At 31-years-old it's possible that Parenteau's career peak was just short, and he's on the downslide already, but I don't believe that's the case.

Killed by percentages

parenteau shots

Coming into this season, Parenteau's shot production had stayed incredibly consistent over the last four seasons, with a bit of fluctuation between how many shot attempts got through defenders and to the net, but the actual attempts only varied by 0.3 per 60 minutes over that huge sample size. Now this season in Montreal Parenteau is up 2.5 shot attempts per 60 minutes over his average the four previous years.

Normally for a hockey player getting more pucks toward and on the net is a good thing, but Parenteau has dropped from an average of 0.7 goals per 60 minutes played, to just 0.36, barely half.

The automatic assumption from most observers when faced with that information would be to assume that Parenteau is just tossing the puck at the net from bad areas because he's struggling, he's not generating actual good chances to score. That's actually not the case, according to War On Ice.

Parenteau chances

As you can see, Parenteau is producing the fifth most scoring chances on the Canadiens at even strength, close to what Lars Eller is producing, and more that David Desharnais, yet while he's been on the ice, there haven't been as many goals as you'd normally expect.

In fact, among Habs players to play 20 or more games, only Manny Malhotra has a lower PDO, and only Brandon Prust, Nathan Beaulieu, and Malhotra have lower on-ice shooting percentages. Couple that with Parenteau scoring on a whopping 25% fewer of his shots on goal than his career average, and you've got a season Parenteau likely never thought he'd have to deal with.

It's not all bad

It's easy to see a stat line and criticize a struggling player, but it's important to look deeper and see if that player is actually playing bad hockey, or just having everything possible go wrong for them. While the score is close, only Max Pacioretty has seen the Habs play better while he's on the ice that Parenteau, who has a 53% Corsi, 54% Fenwick, and 53.1% share of shots on goal, yet just 36.8% of the goals scored while he's on the ice are in his favour.

And in case you're thinking teams are outchancing Parenteau while he's on, he's producing more individual scoring chances per 60 minutes played than he ever has before in his career at 7.21, and is one of the few Habs players (one of seven) with a positive scoring chance differential at even strength.

This huge gap isn't going to continue forever. Parenteau has been one of the top 90 point producing players per minute in the NHL for four years going, that talent didn't just disappear. The big change in shot production could show a change in his playing style, either because he's feeling the pressure of playing in Montreal, or the team has asked him to play differently, but he is one Hab that you should look out for in the second half. If the powerplay wakes up at all, and he's healthy, it wouldn't be outrageous for Parenteau to be a point per game forward in the final 35 games of the season or so.