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A closer look at which players are creating scoring chances for the Canadiens

Which players are creating chances? And which players are allowing them?

Christian Petersen/Getty Images

Going by War on Ice's definition of a scoring chance, we're able to establish which forwards have been pulling their weight when it comes to creating goal scoring opportunities. Of course, it's not a perfect system, but it gives us a good idea of what's been going on this season.

Player SCF% SC+- SCF SCA SCF60 SCA60 SCP60 SCF%Rel OZS% ISC
Max Pacioretty 51.1 22 491 469 29.2 27.9 57.0 5.2 59.7 192
Brendan Gallagher 52.4 46 495 449 31 28.1 59 7 55.4 168
Alex Galchenyuk 51.2 21 454 433 29.2 27.8 57 5.5 57.9 137
Dale Weise 44.5 -72 294 366 22.7 28.2 50.9 -3.7 47.7 85
David Desharnais 50.4 8 456 448 27.9 27.4 55.2 4.0 58.8 76
Tomas Plekanec 48.1 -34 438 472 26.1 28.1 54.3 0.7 45.3 119
Lars Eller 46.3 -54 336 390 23.5 27.3 50.8 -1.4 37.5 96
PA Parenteau 50.3 3 234 231 25.5 25.2 50.7 2.6 57.7 64
Jacob de la Rose 47.6 -10 101 111 23.1 25.4 48.4 2.4 30.9 26
Brandon Prust 45.1 -61 278 339 21.7 26.4 48.1 -3.3 35.9 68
Manny Malhotra 32.7 -120 113 233 14.6 30.2 44.8 -18.7 17.9 27
Michael Bournival 45.6 -16 82 98 22.4 26.8 49.2 -1.6 41.3 27
Christian Thomas 54.7 10 58 48 22.1 18.3 40.4 7.2 49.3 20
Devante Smith-Pelly 38.9 -20 35 55 15.9 25 40.9 -3.7 47.8 7

As everyone expected, Max Pacioretty is one of the leaders when it comes to creating scoring chances at even strength, however Brendan Gallagher is not too far behind, and once you factor in the scoring chances for relative to the team (SCF%Rel), Pacioretty falls to fourth, behind Gallagher, Thomas and Galchenyuk.

One of the key numbers to keep in mind is the offensive zone starts (OZS%). Starting a shift in the offensive zone clearly leads to more scoring chances, and when you see Malhotra's insanely low offensive-zone starts, it becomes clear that his assignments are purely defensive. The same can be said for for Jacob de la Rose, Brandon Prust and Lars Eller. They're essentially Michel Therrien's shutdown players, along with Tomas Plekanec, and therefore shouldn't realistically be looked upon to contribute more offense.

The biggest negative on the team, all things considered, has to be Dale Weise. He's been on the ice for over 360 scoring chances against, and only 294 for, meaning his scoring chance plus/minus (SC+-) is the worst on the team, except for Malhotra's. Considering he's spent a fair amount of time on a line with Pacioretty, it's clear that his usage is better suited for a fourth line assignment, rather than the top line. He also allows second-most scoring chances against  per 60 (SCA/60), behind Malhotra. As you can see, Malhotra is basically the Buffalo Sabres of statistics in this analysis.

Interestingly, Christian Thomas is a scoring chance machine. It's a limited sample size, but the fact remains that when he's on the ice the puck tends to stay in the offensive zone. As for Devante Smith-Pelly, we'll have to give him a little more time to adjust to Montreal's system, but unfortunately his debut with the Canadiens has not been a positive one in terms of creating scoring chances.

It has to be said that de la Rose has been a nice surprise this season, even with the tough defensive assignments sent his way. On the flip side of the coin, David Desharnais' individual scoring chance (ISC) totals are incredibly poor, only 12 more than Parenteau, albeit in 24 more games played. To be fair, Desharnais is a pass-first player, but the fact remains that he doesn't create much offense on his own. Andrei Markov, for example, has 56 individual scoring chances (5 vs 5) this season.

The Habs will continue to count on Gallagher, Pacioretty & Galchenyuk to lead the offensive charge, but seeing as they're the primary targets for opponents' shutdown players, Montreal will need to receive more auxiliary scoring from players like Desharnais, Parenteau, and Weise if they hope to end their current scoring woes.

(all data sourced from war-on-ice.com)