The playoffs are right around the corner, and although the Canadiens have had a stellar season thus far, there is still some room for improvement. The Habs have relied on a balanced offense to find success this year, so while they are fifth in the league in goals per game but they don’t have a player in the top-30 in scoring. As good a job as Montreal has done spreading their scoring around this season, some players need to chip in a bit more often if the team is going to have success in the postseason.
For the amount of ice time he’s been seeing, captain Brian Gionta’s production seems a little light. While his 23 points in 41 games has him on par to match his 2010-2011 numbers of 46 points in a full 82 game season, the Canadiens will need more production out of their leader if they expect to be a true Stanley Cup threat.
Canadiens Slowing Down Offensively
The Habs have struggled more in the last couple of weeks than they have all season, they’ve lost three of their last six games. Gionta picked up points in just two of those games, an assist in Montreal’s 5-1 trouncing over the Sabres and a goal and a helper in the 4-1 victory over Winnipeg. In the last 15 games Gio has just 2 goals and 5 assists, that simply isn’t enough from a player who is supposed to be a goal-scoring threat.
In all fairness, Gionta is not the only Habs forward that’s been struggling. David Desharnais and Max Pacioretty each have just two assists in their last five games, and the same goes for Tomas Plekanec. The four represent what should be Montreal’s top offensive threats, but instead most of the offense has been driven by the defense.
When the Canadiens were winning, the lack of production wasn’t a problem, but the Habs have hit some roadblocks recently and their offense seems to be missing a bit of a spark. While it’s true Montreal has one of the best power plays in the league with 37 goals already this year, their success is thanks in large part to PK Subban and Andrei Markov, number 1 and 2 in the league in power play scoring with 23 and 22 points respectively.
Time for Changes to the Power Play?
Gionta has points on a mere 6 of Montreal’s 37 power play goals, despite averaging close to three minutes per game on the power play. He did pick up a goal and an assist with the with the man advantage against the Jets, before that his last power play point came back on March 5, against the Islanders. David Desharnais has also struggled in that department, he averages 2:46 on the power play each game but has just 5 points all season with the man advantage.
Montreal is known as a speed and skill team that’s lacking on size, but players Lars Eller and Alex Galchenyuk have a nice mix of both skill and size. Neither player has been given much power play responsibility but considering the lack of output from Gionta and Desharnais, giving the youngsters more opportunities in Montreal’s last 7 games would seem to make sense.
Rob has been blogging about the Habs since 2011 at MontrealHockeyTalk.com and can usually be heard before every Canadiens games on the MHT Pregame Show.