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Offensive expectations: The exceptional start has regressed, but the top players are still producing

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After just passing the halfway point of the season, how have the players met the expectations outlined before it got underway?

Eric Bolte-USA TODAY Sports

The Canadiens put on a poor performance this week, losing two of the three games played. If not for a stronger showing in the third period of Saturday's game versus the Penguins, in which they put 17 shots on Marc-Andre Fleury, they would have had fewer than 26 shots in all three of those games.

Montreal is quickly regressing to the expected 224 goals that I had for the team before the start of the season. Dating back to their win against Tampa Bay on December 28 — a game that looked to be a potential turning point in their season, they are playing 0.500 hockey.

Let's take a look at the offensive numbers from this week:

Shots Goals
Average before 31.4 2.85
Average this week 27.4 2
Average now 31.1 2.80
82-game pace 2553 229

Here are the numbers for the entire roster, with each player's expected, actual, and 82-game projections of shots, goals, and points. You can click a column's heading to sort it. Shootout goals do not count in their total.

Player Position GP Exp. S Actual S Pace S Exp. G Actual G Pace G Exp. P Actual P Pace P Sh%
Andrighetto, Sven F 16 110 19 97 10 4 21 25 5 26 21.1
Barberio, Mark D 6 74 6 82 3 0 0 14 2 27 0.0
Beaulieu, Nathan D 42 144 52 102 6 2 4 20 12 23 3.9
Byron, Paul F 31 131 27 71 12 7 19 25 10 26 25.9
Carr, Daniel F 16 110 29 149 8 5 26 20 7 36 17.2
Desharnais, David F 43 109 60 114 10 8 15 45 21 40 13.3
Eller, Lars F 43 108 69 132 12 7 13 27 13 25 10.1
Emelin, Alexei D 34 74 30 72 3 0 0 14 4 10 0.0
Fleischmann, Tomas F 41 131 77 154 12 8 16 25 17 34 10.4
Flynn, Brian F 43 99 56 107 6 4 8 20 10 19 7.1
Galchenyuk, Alex F 43 225 91 174 25 10 19 50 27 51 11.0
Gallagher, Brendan F 26 208 81 255 25 11 35 50 22 69 13.6
Gilbert, Tom D 36 49 31 71 2 0 0 12 1 2 0.0
Holloway, Bud
F 1 88 1 82 8 0 0 22 0 0 0.0
Hudon, Charles F 2 78 1 41 7 0 0 30 2 82 0.0
Markov, Andrei D 43 140 59 113 8 2 4 40 22 42 3.4
McCarron, Michael F 2 78 4 164 7 0 0 20 0 0 0.0
Mitchell, Torrey F 32 66 32 82 4 6 15 12 11 28 18.8
Pacioretty, Max F 43 308 166 317 37 17 32 60 33 63 10.2
Pateryn, Greg D 11 49 9 67 2 0 0 8 0 0 0.0
Petry, Jeff D 40 192 77 158 8 4 8 25 13 27 5.2
Plekanec, Tomas F 43 167 94 179 20 8 15 50 32 61 8.5
Smith-Pelly, Devante F 31 115 37 98 7 3 8 19 8 21 8.1
Subban, P.K. D 43 211 114 217 12 2 4 50 29 55 1.8
Tinordi, Jarred D 3 49 0 0 2 0 0 9 0 0 NA
Weise, Dale F 40 88 93 191 8 11 23 18 20 41 11.8

Daniel Carr maintained his offensive run with a late goal that gave the Habs a chance for the tie versus Philadelphia,  and added an assist as well. Paul Byron's play while his team is down a man now has him as the league leader in short-handed points.

The lack of offensive contributions from the defense remains a concern, although P.K. Subban was able to snap a 33-game goal drought.

The defence has been guilty of turning the puck over on attempted clears.  Those are often cause by poor support from the forwards. The reason for tht may be that the forwards are cheating in an attempt to get the offence going again. That forces the defencemen to clear the zone by throwing the puck off the boards. While this isn't something only the Canadiens do, they do seem to use that strategy the most.

At all times, a defenceman should have two options to clear the zone: along the near-side boards to the winger or through the middle of the ice to the centre. With the appropriate support, the breakout can move its way up the ice, while the D-man on the opposite side if able to join the attack and give better opportunities to score goals. Jeff Petry, Nathan Beaulieu, Andrei Markov, Mark Barberio, and Subban are all capable of supporting the attack, so their low goal count is a bit perplexing.

Michel Therrien must be angry at losing to his former team. I wonder how Marc Bergevin will react if they also lose against Chicago.