Sometimes, you get a writer’s block, when you can’t think of what to write about. Let’s face it, in a season like this one, with all of the injuries and all, the stories are too often the same. Other times, you get your inspiration from an unlikely source. And that’s what happened yesterday when a buddy of mine discussed with another follower about the coaching change in Vancouver. He then proceeded to make the inevitable reference and correlation to the Canadiens…
In normal times, if I read someone make that kind of rather unfair reference, I would call them out stating ill intent, dishonesty and in bad faith. But I know this guy and I’m sure he wasn’t doing that to feed a narrative. So instead, I had a quick reply to the conversation and decided that it would take more than 140 characters to explain my point. To get across the fact that it’s an unfair comparison and that it wouldn’t hold water is the reason for this article.
Injuries are a real factor
For one thing, the Canucks are a good team that’s underperforming. Unlike the Canadiens, they are “normally” healthy. What I mean by that is that they have a somewhat normal injury curve, like any other NHL team. That team is supposed to be performing better than it is as they have most of their key pieces in place, but aren’t producing.
The Canadiens’ injury situation is well documented. They have spent the entire season with a minimum of $30 million in salary out of the line-up. This means that their top players are out for a long period of time. I have compiled for you the current injury situation for both the Canucks and the Habs.
That’s a difference of $35.75 million out of the Montreal line-up. Do you honestly think that the Habs would be this bad is they had $14 million out of the line-up? If you’re being truthful, you will say no.
SI decided to compare the Canucks 5-game winning streak, which coincides with Boudreau taking over, to the Habs’ record in their last 5 games. And this is what it looks like.
As you can see, Boudreau is riding a hot goalie and a pretty good power play presently. They don’t score that many goals but are more opportunistic on their scoring chances right now, in part due to their power play. They allow a lot of shots, highlighting Demko’s play. What those stats don’t say is how the Canucks defense clears the front of the net, preventing second and third chances, due to having a healthier group out there.
It is also important to note that Jeff Petry was only there for one of the 5 games for the Canadiens, the very last one. While he’s not having a good season, he’s still counted on for over 23 minutes a game and when not there, Chris Wideman or Kale Clague have to play more.
So there you have it folks. If you think for a second that a coaching change will make the Habs start winning, you live in a different world. Not even Scotty Bowman could make this team win with all of the injuries they currently have. Take a deep breath, and keep your fingers crossed that Jeff Gorton find a plan to right the ship… when the injured players come back.