Bad Habits Montreal Canadiens Stars Need to Drop in 2013-14
The Montreal Canadiens have a solid group of star players who lead the team on a nightly basis. Each is far from perfect, however, and each has at least one area of their game in which they need to improve.
Here are the bad habits that several Montreal Canadiens stars need to eliminate from their games sooner rather than later.
Bad Habit: Trying too hard for a big hit.
As good as P.K. Subban was last season, he was far from perfect. He plays a flashy game, but it's one that can get him into trouble when he isn't careful.
One bad habit Subban should drop from his game is when he puts too much effort into making a thunderous hit. When he connects, they're crowd-pleasers. They're highlight reel checks that people talk about the next day.
The problems arise when Subban makes the effort for these hits but doesn't quite connect. He winds up throwing himself out of position and giving the other team an odd-man rush, or he takes a penalty.
In the end, the big hits just aren't worth the risk. They were a great way to help Subban establish himself as a physical player in the NHL, but he's past that stage in his career. A safe, solid check is just as effective from a hockey sense as a bone-crushing hit.
Subban is quickly evolving into one of the best defensemen in the league, but he can still improve. Not worrying about making it onto Don Cherry's Rock 'Em Sock 'Em is one way to do so.
Bad Habit: Disappearing for multiple games at a time.
Max Pacioretty has been the Montreal Canadiens' top scorer in each of the past two seasons. He has slowly developed into one of the better wingers in the NHL. Yet he is still far too inconsistent to be considered among the best.
Take last season for example. Pacioretty went completely goalless in the first 10 games. He then scored eight times in the next eight games, followed by just three in 19 games. He finished the season with four goals in his last seven contests.
When Pacioretty is hot, he's one of the most dangerous snipers in the league. When he's not, however, he simply disappears. And for a player who is not exactly adept at playing in the other two zones, that is simply unacceptable.
Pacioretty can raise his game to another level by finding a way to become a more consistent point producer next season.
Bad Habit: Still thinking he is fast.
Andrei Markov had a fantastic season in 2013—but only from an offensive point of view.
On the back end, Markov was hard to watch. He looked slow, like he had lost a step. And that's because he has.
Markov was once known for his speed and quickness, two attributes that helped make him into a top-tier defenseman on both ends of the ice. Unfortunately, knee problems forced him to have three surgeries in 18 months, and he has not been able to regain that speed.
The 34-year-old Russian is still a very effective NHL player, but he needs to learn to play as a slower version of himself. He can't rely on his speed to help him anymore when he's caught out of position. He'll need to use different angles to stop opposing forwards as they try to beat him wide with their speed.
Markov can still be a very good NHL defenseman, but he'll need to make some adjustments to his game to improve on his team-worst minus-eight rating last season.
Bad Habit: Letting in the occasional soft goal.
Carey Price has the ability to be considered among the best goalies in the NHL. So far in his career, however, inconsistency has plagued him and he has yet to reach his potential.
In addition to slumping for prolonged periods of time, Price has a bad habit of letting in far too many soft goals. Every goaltender is allowed a mistake now and again, but for Price, it's something that happens far too often.
Even when Price is on top of his game, it seems that every few contests he lets one in that he should have saved. Whether it's a weak wrist shot from the blue line or a slap shot with no one in front, it seems Price has far too many lapses of concentration.
Price is entering a defining season in his career. Stephane Waite has been hired away from the Chicago Blackhawks to mentor him. He has the chance to start for Team Canada in Sochi 2014. And of course, he has the unrealistic expectations that come with being the starting goalie for the Montreal Canadiens.
Carey Price has a lot of work to do to reach his immense potential and become an elite goaltender in the NHL. Allowing fewer soft goals is a good place to start.
Bad Habit: Taking way too many dumb penalties.
OK, so Ryan White can't be considered a Canadiens star, but he makes this list because he has the worst habit of any player on the Montreal roster—he takes a lot of stupid penalties.
Many were surprised, shocked even, when Montreal elected to re-sign the fourth-line center this offseason. He had just finished a season where he took numerous late-game penalties that cost his team the game. He even took a five-game suspension in April for a nasty hit on Philadelphia's Kent Huskins.
But the fact of the matter is this: Ryan White is a physical, gritty forward, and Montreal needs his presence in the lineup. General manager Marc Bergevin knows this.
It was likely hard for Bergevin to reward White with a new contract after the season he had in 2013, but he didn't have many other options.
Montreal needs to be tougher in 2013-14, and Ryan White can help. He will need to stop taking dumb, late-game penalties, however, to avoid being on the first bus to Hamilton.