Andrew Berkshire is on Twitter @AndrewBerkshire. Laura is @TheActiveStick.
So the Habs, at the time of writing, have won 5 of 20. People are panicking. Has fans think the team is falling apart. We can’t help but see the best goalie in the world hurt, a terrible shooting percentage and other bad luck. Which is true or is it a blending of the two?
Berkshire: What’s going on right now with the Habs is very weird. Montreal has been one of the best possession teams in the NHL this year, the whole season. The shooting percentage is obviously not reflective of their play, and eventually they will bust out of this slump, but the longer it goes the harder it is to believe it’s just luck.
There are little things about the Canadiens’ system that you can identify fairly easily as problem areas that hurt them. Their breakout is terrible, the worst in the league in terms of keeping possession while exiting their own zone. Their tendency to dump the puck off the wall to clear the zone leads to a ton of turnovers and scoring chances against. Combine that with very little east-west movement in the offensive zone and you have a team that plays well in terms of shots for and against, but give up more goals and score less than league average.
Laura: From my perspective, it’s a blending of the two. Initially, the team was playing well and was getting burned by the goaltending. The Habs didn’t abandon the process at that point, but were hit by some really bad luck, so it turned into what I call “not winning” as opposed to losing (sometimes badly). Then they started playing badly. In the last two games (vs Chicago and St.Louis) they seem to have been playing well and running into bad luck again, but the coach is unfortunately showing signs of his patented inexplicable line-blending. We shall see.