It has been a rough start to the season for the Montreal Canadiens, making it their worst 8-game start since 1941. The team currently sits at the bottom of the NHL ranking. They have lost seven of their first eight games this season. The team entered the 2017-18 season as Stanley Cup hopefuls, yet things have taken a drastic turn. Many are wondering if it is time to start worrying about the Habs.
During their game against the Anaheim Ducks on October 20th, the Habs were down 3-0 in the first 97 seconds. Anaheim centre Derek Grant had not scored a goal in the first 92 games of his NHL career, then scored two on Montreal’s all-star goalie Carey Price. The game ended with a final score of 6-2.
The results leave the team extremely frustrated. Claude Julien, head coach of the Canadiens, says that his frustration is “Very high… very high.” Price said, “I don’t know a human on earth that wouldn’t be frustrated at this point.”
Even though we are not yet at a point in the season where we can wholeheartedly say what the team is, the results aren’t promising based on the performance we have seen so far. If Price, often referred to the best goalie on earth, does not improve his play, the team is just not going to win, according to former Nordiques coach and NHL commentator, Michel Bergeron. The team needs Price to perform.
Max Pacioretty, Montreal’s captain, has taken 23 shots, which makes his shots per game under his average from last season. In a situation like the one the Canadiens are in now, the captain has to lead by example. The issue is that Pacioretty is frustrated himself with his play, “That is the challenge,” said Pacioretty in an interview after the game against the Ducks, “How am I going to tell my teammates that we got to be better when I’m the worst one on the ice. I don’t feel I’m strong at all right now.” Bergeron would like to see Pacioretty focus more on his play rather than taking the blame.
It is not, however, only Price and Pacioretty. The loss of critical defensemen such as Markov and Emelin has had a severe impact on the team, says Bergeron. The Habs are now relying on 19-year-old Victor Mete to play 20 minutes or more per night, along with Shea Weber. The offence has also taken a turn, as the team has only scored ten goals in seven games.
Many ask themselves how a team with such success in previous years has ended up at the bottom of the chart. Bergeron explains that it is as a result of the poor draft picks made by the Canadiens. The Canadiens get players who have had great success in other cities and are ending their career in Montreal. The team needs younger players with lots of talent. The Canadiens simply do not have this.
Despite the poor start to the season, the Canadiens will look to right the ship and make a push for the playoffs as soon as the team begins to play the way that everyone knows that they are capable of.