Efficiency is a word that doesn't really get talked about much in hockey.
If you think of efficiency as the amount of input needed to get a certain output, then you can start to appreciate how important it is.
Imagine a company making the world's best toaster oven. The output (the product itself) might be fantastic, but if the company is losing $100 on the manufacturing of each unit, it is probably employing too much input, and is sure to go bankrupt.
Imagine a team getting set to climb Mount Everest. They might be young, strong and making record time up the mountain. But if they use up 80% of their provisions just to get to the half-way point to the peak, they will probably die out there. Once again, the output is there, but the input is mismanaged and efficiency suffers as a result.
From a shot differential point of view, the Habs have done a really good job in the 2015 playoffs, maintaining a 53% Corsi rating through 9 games.
Yet they were lucky not to be forced into a Game 7 situation against Ottawa in the first round, and are down 0-3 against the Lightning in Round 2.
So what gives? Perhaps a dose of bad luck is involved. After all, Montreal has only scored four times against Tampa despite putting 104 pucks on net.
But there is nothing less productive than blaming bad outcomes solely on the bounces, especially when two of the Habs' goals came off of very stoppable shots. Pacioretty's wrist shot off the rush in Game 1 inexplicably trickled in off Ben Bishop's open glove, and Jeff Petry's floater from the point was also one Bishop would have normally gotten to.
To gain more insights into why the Habs find themselves behind the 8-ball heading into tonight's game, we'll have to look at where the shots came from in Game 3, and also delve deeper into the play of one Pierre-Alexandre Parenteau.
Focus 1: Shot attempt locations in Game 3
War-on-ice.com is one of my favorite resources for hockey analytics, and they have a neat tool which allows us to look at where each shot attempt came from on Wednesday night:
Montreal out-shot Tampa 31-19 overall (excluding blocks and misses), but only held a 9-5 advantage in shots on net in the low slot area - not as much of an advantage in absolute terms.
Additionally, many of the Habs' shots came off net-front scrambles with the 6'7" Bishop down and already covering most of the net. Meanwhile, Tampa was able to carry the puck into the slot and force Carey Price to move laterally before scoring both of its goals.
In sum, Tampa had fewer opportunities of much higher quality. They might have gotten lucky, but they also gave themselves the best possible chance of putting the puck in the net once they did get an opening.
Focus 2: Parenteau's efficiency with the puck
As a hockey player, it's okay to be called small, old, or even unskilled. But to be called lazy is the ultimate kiss of death.
Perhaps this is why Michel Therrien has made the bona fide 20-goal scorer a healthy scratch several times this season.
After all, Parenteau can look quite sleepy on the ice. He doesn't forecheck like Dale Weise, hit like Brandon Prust or dump-and-chase like Torrey Mitchell. When he doesn't have the puck, he looks like he's just going through the motions. And when he does have the puck, he doesn't chip it across the opposing blue line and bust his chops trying to get it back.
His on-ice persona doesn't exude "work ethic," and that's a big minus in many coaches' books.
But that's what I love about Parenteau's game. He makes plays, and he makes them look easy.
Routine dump-in by Tampa Bay. Jeff Petry is about to recover the puck and move it up ice toward the Prust-Eller-Parenteau line. The Lightning's players are on a change and only one player (J.T. Brown, #23) comes in on the forecheck.
The Lightning are not all that aggressive on the forecheck (they played the trap quite a bit against Detroit in Round 1), and Petry easily beats Brown with a pass to Parenteau at the right sideboards.
PAP recognizes that he has time, space and puck support. And so he wheels with the puck.
Controlled zone exit; easy.
This is a great litmus test for the Habs forward.
Filppula is fresh off the Tampa bench and closing in fast, but he has also taken a bad angle on the puck carrier.
A typical bottom-six player would be looking to avoid a turnover, and is likely to chip the puck off the boards toward Prust at the left of the screen.
But Parenteau knows that he's worked hard to get the puck, and he doesn't want to spend the rest of his shift skating his bags off, trying to get it back. So he fakes out Filppula with his eyes, toe-drags the puck and make an inside cut to elude the Tampa forward.
That's a lazy man's play - the decision of someone who doesn't want to skate more than he absolutely has to.
And in this case, it is 100% the right play. Filppula falls by the wayside.
Parenteau gently feeds the puck up to Lars Eller, who has a full head of steam and is perfectly in sync with him on the play.
Eller makes the uncontested controlled zone entry and immediately drops off for Prust, creating a dead spot in the Tampa Bay D-zone coverage.
Prust spots Tom Gilbert supporting the rush, and it is ON.
Gilbert gets the puck with room to operate. He glides into the high slot and almost beats Bishop, who is being heavily screened.
This is just such a beautiful play on several levels.
Not only was there a shot attempt following a controlled zone entry, but all five Canadiens skaters on the ice touched the puck, and none of them had to make a pass much longer than 10ft to find their teammate.
All this was made possible by the, dare I say, productive laziness of Pierre-Alexandre Parenteau. He didn't skate very hard on the sequence, he didn't hit anyone, but he was efficient with the puck, and allowed his teammates to do the same. End result: the type of scoring chances that the Habs have rarely generated this postseason.
"I choose a lazy person to do a hard job. Because a lazy person will find an easy way to do it." ― Bill Gates
In a parallel universe, perhaps PAP never learned to skate, went to college, and became a great software engineer.
Jack Han is the Video & Analytics Coordinator for the McGill Martlet Hockey team. He also writes occasionally about the NHL for Habs Eyes on the Prize. You can find him on Twitter or on the ice at McConnell Arena.