It’s still early in the NHL season for the Montreal Canadiens but despite their current record, one thing that has been glaringly apparent in recent games is the lack of scoring from the team’s wingers excluding Max Pacioretty and Brendan Gallagher, who are consistently producing. As for the rest of the wingers especially the ones on the second and third lines, they are just not cutting it right now. Outside of the top line of Pacioretty, Gallagher and Tomas Plekanec, the rest of the lines aren’t the most reliable when it comes to putting the puck in the net.
The Canadiens’ Second and Third Lines
The top line has been producing as expected and the fourth line has been doing an above average job but it’s the second and third lines that are concerning offensively. Alex Galchenyuk has had his rough moments being a full time centre for the first time at the NHL level but on the whole he has been good so far. The trouble has been the two guys flanking him. Lars Eller has been his usual defensively responsible self but unfortunately it hasn’t led to much offense. Alexander Semin was scratched versus Edmonton and hasn’t looked like the Alex Semin from a few years ago. He isn’t shooting the puck as often as he should. Galchenyuk is a playmaker and he has the ability to create chances out of nothing but if no one is finishing his passes, the line will continue to struggle.
As for the third line featuring David Desharnais, Tomas Fleischmann and Dale Weise, they are a line that works hard every night but the amount of missed chances coming from this line is staggering at times. Desharnais continually creates chances but the other two can’t always finish. The thing is with these two lines is that the work ethic is there, but when it comes to actually capitalizing on these chances, it’s hit or miss.
The Montreal Canadiens of Old?
The past couple of games have not been good for Montreal. The defensive breakdowns are frequent and the goals haven’t been coming as easily. It’s possible the team is just going through a cold streak but if the Habs are serious about being contenders, they are going to need find more top six wingers who can produce regularly.
1st 9 Games: 9 W, 12 GA
Last 2 Games: 2 L, 9 GA
— ESPN Stats & Info (@ESPNStatsInfo) October 30, 2015
In terms of prospects, winger Nikita Scherbak has the highest ceiling offensively but he is better off in the AHL for this season at least. On the flip side, Christian Thomas, Charles Hudon and Sven Andrighetto have had good starts so far with St. John’s and are likely the first names on the call up list. Head coach Michel Therrien will not give up on his current lineup unless the team is really struggling and more than a few players need to sit.
It may seem too early criticize a team that had nine straight wins to start the season but the scoring issues that plagued the team last year are coming back to bite them again. The Habs will rebound from this rough patch because they are still a good team but if they are going to go deep this year, more players who can score are needed.
I have a Bachelor’s Degree in Journalism from Ryerson University. I am a freelance journalist and a Montreal Canadiens writer for The Hockey Writers. I previously wrote for Simcoe.com and Last Word on Sports as well as interned at TSN.