There is no doubt that the Montreal Canadiens are a better team now than they were for the first half of the season. Now that they have found a way to score more goals, the coaching staff and players must work on finding ways to keep the puck out of their own net.
Since February 13th, the Habs have played 23 games. They have a record of 11-8-4 (.565 points percentage) since then. While their winning record has much improved, it can be justified by a much more impressive offensive output by some individual players and as a team as well.
Martin St-Louis’ team has scored fewer than three goals in only four of those 23 games and only once have they scored less than two goals in a game:
- Feb26 vs OTT (2)
- Mar.21 vs BOS (2)
- Mar.27 vs NJD (2)
- Mar.31 vs CAR (0)
As you can see, four of those times have been in the last 18 days, since the March 21st trade deadline day.
The Canadiens have been averaging 3.30 goals per game since then, good for 12th in the entire NHL. They have done that in spite of having a power play clicking at only 13.6%, good for 30th in the league.
The issue is that they’ve been allowing 3.48 goals per game during that time span, and their penalty kill hasn’t been helping them with a 75% success rate (23rd).
Some of the defensive struggles can be explained by goaltending for sure, some by injuries, although Paul Byron and Joel Edmundson have returned to the line-up since.
Lately, some can also be explained with the fact that they have been playing young players more and with youth comes inexperience. With inexperience, also comes mistakes which can result in goals against. With the season out of hand, this is the time to play them and see what they have so we shouldn’t complain about that.
The eventual return of Carey Price, allowing Jake Allen to go back to his backup role, should definitely go a long way in preventing goals against. As long as it doesn’t mask the need to continue revamping this defense…