This is your introduction to the concept of “LOFT,” which is at the centre of conversations NHL GMs and owners have when their team is losing and they’re considering their options to quickly get better.
Is our coach failing to get the most out of this roster, or are we suffering from LOFT?
Excuse the vulgarity, as this is primarily a hockey term used in private, but LOFT is a Lack Of [expletive] Talent.
The reason coaches are so often the first to suffer at the hands of a poor record -- or in the case of the Canadiens, just underperforming expectations -- is because many GMs can’t bring themselves to cop to LOFT, given that would mean the problems falls on their heads. So with Marc Bergevin and the Montreal Canadiens in the midst of a skid where they’re failing to take points off the decidedly ungood Ottawa Senators, LOFT was ruled out for the Habs, and instead Julien took the bullet.
Before I get into how changing leadership affects players and teams in the immediate future, a couple quick notes on the Habs and why we’re going to have that conversation in the first place.
The Canadiens are currently top-five in shot attempts percentage (Corsi) in the NHL and are third in the NHL in straight up shots percentage. At 5-on-5 they’ve posted some of the best stats in hockey (though we’ll consider divisional weakness here for context):
Overall, of every shot taken in their games, Montreal gets some 54 per cent of them. They’re also on the positive side of the ledger in expected goals percentage (all strengths), if you’re into such measurements.
This is a team whose top four centres are Phillip Danault, Nick Suzuki, Jesperi Kotkaniemi, and Jake Evans, which is stable as NHL centres go, but lacking elite names. Outside of occasional healthy scratch Corey Perry, the highest single-season point output by a forward on the Canadiens, taking all of their careers together, is Tomas Tatar’s 61-point year from last season. (That’s a staggering stat for me.)
The Habs' depth is probably the best in the North Division, and as good as some of the top teams in the NHL. But as far as top guys and game breakers go it seems to me they may suffer a bit from LOFT, and that maybe Julien was doing a pretty decent job.