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How the Montreal Canadiens are meeting expectations after one quarter of the season

A quarter-season review of the Montreal Canadiens' performance.

Jean-Yves Ahern-USA TODAY Sports

Before the season began, I published some articles on the expected offensive output from the Montreal Canadiens this season: one projecting 224 goals for the team, with estimated totals for each individual player, as well as one with a similar breakdown of the estimated 2501 shots that the players would register over an 82-game schedule. (Those articles also outline the methodology of this project, so I encourage you to read them first.)

We have passed the quarter mark of the regular season, after what was a week of all the hockey clichés in the book:

In a comeback win over the Vancouver Canucks: "A game is three periods long."
In a loss to Arizona Coyotes: "Any team can beat anyone on a given night."
In the first game versus the New York Islanders: "We have to score the first goal."
And in Sunday's home-and-home finale: "Special teams are important."

I would say that after the Arizona game, I was expecting the worst. It was the fifth time in a row that the Habs allowed an early first goal. Against the Coyotes the execution was terrible all night long, Monday's comeback magic didn't happen. It forced the coach to re-insert Carey Price on Friday; I suspect before he was fully ready.

The Habs finally scored first on Friday, perhaps as punishment for a team wearing one of the ugliest jerseys in the history of its franchise (it's still not Captain Highliner level). They built on that a hard-working effort — despite the lack of discipline — in their final game on Sunday.

With all the debate about our favorite under- (Alexander Semin) and over-achievers (the members of the Desharnais line), let's see how the team and the individual players are meeting their expected results.

Shots Goals
Average before 31.6 3.5
Average this week 31 3.75
Average now 31.5 3.55
82-game pace
2583 291

Here are the numbers for the roster. You can click a column's heading to sort it. (S = shots; G = goals; P = points)

Player Position GP Exp. S Actual S Pace S Exp. G Actual G Pace G Exp. P Actual P Pace P
Andrighetto, Sven F 1 110 1 82 10 0 0 25 0 0
Beaulieu, Nathan D 22 144 22 82 6 2 7 20 7 26
Byron, Paul F 10 131 5 41 12 2 16 25 3 25
Desharnais, David F 22 109 30 112 10 7 26 45 17 63
Eller, Lars F 22 108 38 142 12 6 22 27 7 26
Emelin, Alexei D 17 74 8 39 3 0 0 14 2 10
Fleischmann, Tomas F 22 131 39 145 12 7 26 25 15 56
Flynn, Brian F 22 99 36 134 6 2 7 20 5 19
Galchenyuk, Alex F 22 225 41 153 25 3 11 50 13 48
Gallagher, Brendan F 22 208 70 261 25 9 34 50 19 71
Gilbert, Tom D 22 49 19 71 2 0 0 12 1 4
Markov, Andrei D 22 140 29 108 8 2 7 40 17 63
Mitchell, Torrey F 20 66 23 94 4 5 21 12 10 41
Pacioretty, Max F 22 308 83 309 37 11 41 60 20 75
Pateryn, Greg D 5 49 6 98 2 0 0 8 0 0
Petry, Jeff D 22 192 49 183 8 3 11 25 9 34
Plekanec, Tomas F 22 167 48 179 20 7 26 50 20 75
Semin, Alexander F 14 153 18 105 17 1 6 48 4 23
Smith-Pelly, Devante F 21 115 25 98 7 1 4 19 6 23
Subban, P.K. D 22 211 52 194 12 1 4 50 19 71
Weise, Dale F 22 88 51 190 8 9 34 18 14 52
Tinordi, Jarred D 49 2 9

Stats from WAR On Ice.

Alexander Semin is not playing to his expectations, but he has shown us that he is not a player who can only play in the  top six, but can be useful on the fourth line, as well. For $1.1 M per year, a player who can play anywhere in the lineup is still a pretty good deal.

With only one game under his belt this season, Sven Andrighetto still managed to get a shot on net.

During the dead season, Marc Bergevin bid on two horses: Semin and Tomas Fleischmann. This week, Fleischmann collected three goals on 11 shots.  It was not just luck. The guy puts a lot of pressure high in the defensive zone to create two-on-ones with his speed.

Greg Pateryn continued his slow-but-steady development, and Nathan Beaulieu added points this week, but the adjustment to playing with Jeff Petry still needs some time.

The majority of the players on the team are ahead of their expected scoring pace, with only Semin's totals and the goal-scoring rates of P.K. Subban and Alex Galchenyuk significanlty below the projected mark, though a lot of players benefit from unsustainable shooting percentage.

For Galchenyuk, it's mostly a matter of shooting ... and shooting on the net. He scored his thid of the season with a display of that wicked shot. The Canadiens will need a bigger contribution from him with Brendan Gallagher out.

We will see how the numbers look after a week playing against the well-coached New York Rangers and two matches versus the New Jersey Devils.