Lack of Scoring and Discipline Are Hurting the Montreal Canadiens

To say it was a tough loss in Game Two would be sugar coating it. After a good first period, the wheels came off for the Montreal Canadiens as discipline went out the window as parades to the penalty box didn’t stop, giving the Tampa Bay Lightning the time and space to score four power play goals in a lopsided 6-2 victory for Tampa. What’s the most concerning is the utter lack of goals from Montreal’s top players and little contribution from the others. There is a power outage in Montreal with the special teams suffering and no one stepping up to make a difference.

(Eric Bolte-USA TODAY Sports)
(Eric Bolte-USA TODAY Sports)

Wanted: More Goals for the Montreal Canadiens

Admittedly, there were a few times in the game where Carey Price was down early on some of the goals but to pin the loss on him solves nothing. He isn’t the issue as it is the team in front of him that isn’t getting the job done. Price has bailed out the Habs on a consistent basis and when he has his moments where he isn’t perfect, the team doesn’t do the same for him.

Max Pacioretty had a free pass in the Ottawa series coming back from a concussion but that’s not the case this time. He has created more chances on the penalty kill more than anywhere else and that shouldn’t be. As Montreal’s best forward, he hasn’t done enough. Tomas Plekanec is typically tasked with shutting down the opponent’s best line but 3 points in 8 games isn’t cutting it.

What is also concerning is that Torrey Mitchell who has been good for Montreal, has the same amount of points as Alex Galchenyuk and Brendan Gallagher combined. Galchenyuk has struggled mightily so far in the post-season as his confidence is shot. With David Desharnais out of the lineup in game two, it was a perfect opportunity to try Galchenyuk at centre, just for the sake of trying something different. But it didn’t happen and Galchenyuk was hardly noticeable again. On the other hand, Gallagher puts forth the same effort every game but the results on the score sheet just haven’t been there.

What power play?

The power play has continued to be ineffective. The power play is too predictable as teams prepare for PK Subban’s one timer but Montreal has done little to improve their strategy. There was a time a few years ago when Montreal had an excellent power play but it seems like a distant memory now. Special teams are so important, especially in the playoffs and with the Habs already struggling to score five on five, the lack of power play success is frustrating. The penalty kill is better as the Habs show more urgency there but after allowing four power play goals to Tampa, it is another area the Habs need to improve on.

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Brandon Prust vs. Brad Watson

After the game, controversy arose when Brandon Prust called out referee Brad Watson for insulting him and trying to control the game. It is a very touchy situation as it isn’t often you hear a player calling out a specific referee for this sort of behaviour. It is no secret that many referees have mental lists of players they have a bias against. Prust has made himself a marked man by calling Watson out but if Prust’s allegations are true, Watson should be disciplined. Referees should be impartial to the players by not insulting them and the concept of trying to control games isn’t professional.

On the ropes

But the Habs didn’t lose this game because of the referees. The lack of discipline and goal scoring is what is killing Montreal. The Habs haven’t faced a lot of adversity this season but they are being pushed up against the wall pretty quickly. Tampa Bay is a good hockey team but the Habs are currently down because they have lost their way more so than the Lightning taking it to them. The players have admitted that things have to change. It’s one thing to talk the talk. Now it’s time to walk the walk for the Habs before it’s too late.