The Montreal Canadiens, as much as any team in the league, wanted a hot start to the regular season. How better to push aside concerns that last year’s momentum-fuelled playoff run was merely a combination of incredible puck luck and outstanding goaltending?
Their start has been anything but hot. The Canadiens – already undermanned with the losses of Shea Weber, Carey Price, and Paul Byron – have dropped the first four games of the year. Sometimes records in short windows don’t explain how well or how poorly a team is playing.
In this case, the four losses may be understating how poor Montreal has been. The team has been outscored 15-3 over those first four games, a wicked combination of converting on just 2.6 per cent shooting and 13 per cent shooting against. Unless Montreal can start outshooting teams on a 5:1 basis, it’s a gap that will guarantee a place in the draft lottery.
Shooting percentages are fleeting, and at some point, the bounces will start to manifest on both ends of the ice. The question: Will it matter? Because much more problematically, the lion’s share of these games are being played with Montreal chasing the puck. That’s created additional defensive pressure, but in Montreal it’s their total inability to win and sustain the offensive zone that’s rendered them ineffective to start the year