In the playoffs so far, the Montreal Canadiens are averaging 1.86 goals per game played. If you take out empty net goals, that drops to 1.71 per game. Even more striking, over their last five games, the Canadiens have scored just five goals, just one per game, and when you consider overtime, they're scoring just 0.91 goals per 60 minutes played.
The problem for the Habs hasn't been shot generation over this time, they've averaged an impressive 37.2 shots on goal per game, or 33.7 per 60 minutes. As we've looked at before, the Habs aren't exactly getting great scoring chances compared to their opponents.
With that said though, over those five games the Canadiens are still producing more scoring chances overall than the New York Rangers, Tampa Bay Lightning, or Minnesota Wild among teams remaining in the playoffs, and hanging right in the same range as the Chicago Blackhawks, according to War on Ice.
In spite of all those shots, and relatively not terrible scoring chance generation, the Canadiens have scored on just 2.69% of their shots on goal. In the regular season, that's no big deal, because percentages that extreme can't be sustained. No team in the NHL lacks talent so badly, or plays poorly enough, to earn a 2.69% shooting percentage over a long period, there's just too much parity and NHL players are just too good, but the Canadiens don't have a long time, they have possibly as few as three games.
Stimulate the offense
The Canadiens need finishing ability desperately, and although a lot of their bottom half of the lineup players are playing very well overall, they simply have too many grinders on the roster.
- Torrey Mitchell's career shooting percentage: 7.26%
- Jacob de la Rose's career shooting percentage: 8.70%
- Devante Smith-Pelly's career shooting percentage: 8.26%
- Brandon Prust's career shooting percentage: 8.87%
Each of these players are bringing good things individually, but overall, having four guys in your lineup that you know you can't really count on to score is going to hurt when you're already in a slump. None of them deserve to be scratched, but you have to wonder if the Canadiens could benefit from the injection of some talent in the form of youngster Charles Hudon, who scored on 11.51% of his shots in the AHL this season, and averaged 11.3% in the QMJHL. Or even roll the dice on Sven Andrighetto, who scored on 16.7% of his shots in the NHL this year during a brief call up.
The boldest move of all might be to try 23-year old AHL rookie Daniel Carr, who led the Bulldogs with 24 goals this season, and scored on 13.56% of his shots. He's even decently sized at six feet tall, at least according to the AHL's website.
Having good possession numbers is great, it's one of the most important factors in winning games, but the Tampa Bay Lightning have the ability to play a good possession game, and score on a high percentage of their shots, and the Habs currently don't.
In the playoffs, you go from feeling fairly confident to on the brink quickly, and Michel Therrien is a bit of a gambler anyway. Between a couple of roster changes and perhaps moving Alex Galchenyuk to center, and maybe even opening it up a bit, he has options here.
The line between patience and desperation is extraordinarily thin this time of year, and you have to wonder when this streak of popgun offense has crossed it.