It has become an all-too-familiar script for the Montreal Canadiens. Get out-shot, out-chanced and rely on Carey Price and your scorers and skate away with a win.
They did it again last night against the New York Islanders and are still in first place in the Atlantic division despite having one of the worst possession teams in the league.
Now, I know a lot of people who don’t care for advanced statistics and possession statistics and that it takes away from the enjoyment of the game.
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I love hockey. I love seeing the Canadiens win despite allowing the first 14 shots of the game. But, the fact is, it will not and cannot last. The Canadiens are so good, and have a great goaltender in Carey Price and have enough skilled players that they can capitalize on limited chances.
Now, it may last the entire year – like it did last year. But, it’s no way to sustain success. Eventually the good teams, like most of the Western Conference, will pass you. You can’t get outshot against the Los Angeles Kings and expect to win 6-2 every game.
I’m not necessarily going to blame this on Michel Therrien, but, well, who else am I going to blame it on. I don’t want to see him fired, but this team is better than how they have played.
Marc Bergevin technically cannot fire Therrien when the team is in first place, but you have to think during their slump he was at least thinking about it.
I think that any average NHL coach can do Therrien’s job and have the Canadiens in the same place or better than the Canadiens now sit.
There are other things wrong with Therrien besides the team’s style and possession numbers. His insistence to play Bryan Allen and Mike Weaver (and to a lesser extend Sergei Gonchar and Alexei Emelin) instead of Nathan Beaulieu and Tom Gilbert is not the best possible deployment of his assets.
In the last game, Beaulieu played more than Emelin and Gilbert, which is definitely a step in the right direction as he was also one of the team’s best players in terms of possession. Whether it was a one game blip or a sign of things to come is another story.
Therrien has definitely taken steps in the right direction. Splitting up David Desharnais and Max Pacioretty is definitely a move that is paying off. So was moving Desharnais to the wing on Lars Eller‘s line. But the style of play is one thing that hasn’t actually changed and is probably the next step.
Like I said, I don’t necessarily want Therrien to get fired. All I want is the Canadiens to improve.