Ben Bishop has been the MVP of the series, so far. His goaltending has stolen two of three games for Tampa Bay and shattered the confidence of Montreal’s scorers in the process. He’s nullified several golden scoring chances and left many Habs looking to the rafters and shaking their heads in frustration.
Carey Price has been excellent in this series, making a number of difficult saves that we’ve unfairly come to expect from Price. However, as well as Price has played, Bishop has been slightly better. Bishop has made all of those “Carey Price” type saves and then some. In this series, he has been the biggest difference maker.
2) Power Play is Non-Existent
There’s not much else to say on this topic that hasn’t been said. The power play has been abysmal. It has plagued the Habs all season and carried into the playoffs. On paper, the personnel appears to be there:
- Puck Mover: Andrei Markov
- Big Shot: PK Subban
- Sniper: Max Pacioretty
- Net Presence: Brendan Gallagher
- Setup Man: David Desharnais
So, how can this team struggle so much? I think the bigger question is, how come the coaching staff cannot correct this issue? At this stage, the blame has to be shouldered by the coaches.
3) Lack of Scoring
Montreal’s top six forwards have not showed up this playoffs. Teams simply cannot expect to win games if their tops players aren’t scoring. Where have Desharnais, Pacioretty, Galchenyuk, Plekanec, and Parenteau gone? This again begs the question, does Montreal even have a top six? Can the team expect to go far with the top two lines being:
Pacioretty – Desharnais – Gallagher
Galchenyuk – Plekanec – (insert name)
If you thought they could before, surely this series has changed your mind. No matter how these playoffs end for the Habs, the lack of scoring needs to be addressed in the offseason.
4) Puck Luck
After benefiting from some timely bounces and fortunate calls in the Ottawa series, Montreal seems to find themselves on the wrong side of Lady Luck against Tampa Bay. Over the first three games, we’ve seen Montreal hit five posts (two in Game 1 and three in Game 3), have a missed call lead to a game winning goal, and most recently, a bad bounce on a dump-in lead to another game winner with one second left. ONE SECOND! Aside from Game 2, Montreal and Tampa Bay have been pretty even. If anything, I’d say Montreal has carried play for longer stretches. When you have two teams that are playing such competitive hockey, a little luck can make a big difference. And right now, the Habs aren’t getting any love.