Before we blame an innocent Englishman over the next loss for the Montreal Canadiens, let’s take a look at the situation they’re facing in their next game against the Chicago Blackhawks on Wednesday night.
The Chicago Blackhawks have arguably the best, or at least the best healthiest, player in the league at the moment in Jonathan Toews. Toews has earned 35 points in 33 games to put him in tenth position in the league leaders for points. He is also in fourth place for goals with 18 so far this season. The closest Canadiens to challenge Toews are Erik Cole, who is currently in twenty-sixth place in goal scorers with 13 goals and Tomas Plekanec who is in forty-third place for point scorers with 26 points, both in 33 games.
Toews isn’t the only problem facing the Canadiens against the Blackhawks either. Two of Toews’ teammates Partick Sharp and Marian Hossa are also going to have to be neutralized by the struggling Habs. Sharp has 35 points in 33 games including 17 goals for eleventh place in the league directly behind Toews. Hossa currently sits in eighth place for points with 36 points including 15 goals so far this season in 32 games.
Montreal’s past record against the Blackhawks has been very good, but will the past be able to help them get out of the major slump they’ve been in all season long? Chicago only has one regulation loss in it’s last 10 games. The Montreal Canadiens haven’t been able to put up a win against the worst teams in the league, let alone the best. While the Chicago Blackhawks aren’t the best team in the league, they are currently ranked second. Meanwhile, Montreal is ranked twenty-sixth.
Montreal’s record this season currently sits at 13-14-7 while Chicago’s record is at 21-8-4. Chicago are the third highest scoring team in the league and they do not give up power play opportunities easily. Chicago have been a much more disciplined team than Montreal has been this year, and the results show that.
Montreal still has one of the worst power plays in the league at 12.3% and the only thing they have over Chicago is their penalty kill which is currently at 89.1%. That’s all thanks to goaltender Carey Price who has been charged with bailing the team out of countless rough situations brought on by poor discipline. While Carey Price is an excellent goalie, it would be interesting to see how great he would appear to be on a better team where he wasn’t constantly depended upon to make miraculous saves every night and where a win wouldn’t necessarily always be credited directly to him.
The Canadiens’ non-existent offense and sloppy defense are universal, and they’re not going to go away until one of the players on the team steps up and shows some initiative. There’s more than an ample amount of talent on this team, and the lineups have been switched and switched again in an effort to find something that clicks. The coaches and the language they engage the team in can be switched and switched again as well, but a great player will find a way to lead the team regardless of the circumstances. Right now the Habs seem like a team full of really good players who are just waiting for someone else to count on or to blame. No matter what language you write it in, that attitude spells failure.