Michel Therrien’s Sinking Ship
The Montreal Canadiens are in trouble – and Michel Therrien is being blamed. After winning only three games in December, the Habs hoped to return to their early season ways following a big win on New Years day. Now, over half-way through January, the Canadiens are still skidding, and they are desperately hanging on to the final Wildcard spot in the Eastern Conference. If the Habs continue this way, they’ll likely be competing for the first overall pick in the coming draft, rather than competing in the playoffs. The Montreal Canadiens have gone from being the best, to one of the worst teams in the league in only two months.
The Canadiens have faced a big challenge since losing all-star goaltender, Carey Price. Price’s injury, and the Canadiens’ collapse, happened right around the same time – which is no coincidence. Losing one of the best, if not the best goalie in the league is sure to take its toll on any team, especially one that relies on their goalie so heavily. That said, in Price’s absence, Mike Condon has been guarding the Canadiens’ net, and he has done an adequate job of it. Through 30 games played, Condon’s Goals Against Average is 2.39, which is better than the 2.44 that he posted in the AHL last season. Price’s absence may be having a more mental impact on the Canadiens’ play than anything else. Goaltending isn’t to blame here.
There are bigger issues than Price’s absence in the Canadiens organization, as many Habs fans are putting the blame on the coach. Michel Therrien coaches in the most difficult market in all of hockey, and his recent record isn’t helping him get over with the fans. His coaching style has always been brought into question, as he is often found limiting young players’ ice-time, and mixing and matching his lines. A recent report surfaced, which was made public by RDS (Réseau Des Sports) – stating that if the Canadiens lose to the Bruins on Tuesday night, it could very well be Therrien’s final game behind the Canadiens’ bench.
— RDS (@RDSca) January 18, 2016
Though Therrien can’t seem to find a way to lead his team to victory, he isn’t completely to blame for their subpar play. Defensively, the Habs make a couple of mistakes per game, which normally, Carey Price would make up for. Without Price, though, the Canadiens find themselves conceding goals on bad defensive efforts. The bigger issue, though, is that the Canadiens can’t be as opportunistic as their opponents are offensively. When the Canadiens mess up defensively, it usually leads to the opposition scoring. When opposing teams make defensive errors, the Canadiens can rarely capitalize. Offence is the issue here, and Therrien isn’t completely to blame.
An NHL coach must work with what he is given. Michel Therrien doesn’t have an offensively gifted lineup to work with, and this has been the case over the last however many years. Though Therrien may not have offensive firepower at his fingertips, losing all but three games in a month is completely unacceptable. Through January thus far, the Canadiens are 2-5. Their next game could prove to be crucial for Therrien’s future, as reports state that he could lose his job if the Habs lose yet again.
Though firing Michel Therrien may be the popular move among fans, it won’t solve the Canadiens’ problems. The Canadiens need to score more goals – and they need help up-front if they’re going to do so. General Manager Bergevin has been actively looking for a forward to help facilitate scoring goals, though the asking prices have been exceedingly high. Bergevin has recently been tied to Tampa Bay and their young forward, Jonathan Drouin.
Many believe that the Canadiens have been struggling offensively due to Therrien’s reluctancy to give young, talented, players like Alex Galchenyuk ice-time. Though Galchenyuk deserves more ice-time than what he has received, he isn’t the sole reason that the Canadiens have been losing games. The Habs need another scorer to compliment their lineup. With an additional scoring forward, the Habs could fix their scoring woes. That said, GM Bergevin is rightfully not willing to sacrifice the team’s future.
Will Michel Therrien be the Montreal Canadiens’ coach in 24 hours? Well, nobody but Marc Bergevin knows. Has Therrien lost the Canadiens locker room? It sure seems that way. If the Canadiens do fire Therrien, look for them to gain some momentum, as a new coach usually gives a team a little boost. If Bergevin brings in a scorer to help the Canadiens solve their current issues, maybe Therrien’s job will get easier and become more secure. With the team doing as badly as they have done over the last couple of months, something must change. Firing Therrien may be the easy way out for GM Bergevin, though it could also be the right move going forward. Something is going to have to give, and the impatient Canadiens fanbase is calling for the coach’s head. A win against the Bruins on Tuesday night could save Therrien for a few more hours, though unless major changes are made, the coach will continue to be on thin ice.
The Canadiens will likely need more than a new coach to turn their season around, but maybe getting a new perspective from behind the bench could be the beginning of the solution for the struggling team. If the Habs hope to make the playoffs, they’ll need to add a scorer to their lineup… soon.
I’m a Montreal Canadiens columnist and lifelong Habs fan. Follow me on Twitter (@gregkatz19) for all kinds of hockey talk, and to be up to date on my newest articles. I previously wrote for Too Many Men on the Site, a part of Fansided NHL.