In the spirit of Halloween, I thought I’d point out a few things that are scaring me about my favorite hockey team right now.
The Second Line
For an entirely capable centerman, Scott Gomez is just playing some truly poor hockey right now. He’s missing passes to his wingers, constantly powering through to the offensive zone and then turning over the puck, parking himself behind the net instead of in front of it, and making poor decisions time and again.
He’s a better player than this, and I’m not sure why he typically starts so slow, nor how the Habs can afford to wait until December for him to get going.
Brian Gionta, meanwhile, is working hard, but can’t seem to dislodge that monkey off his back. Missing an open net is proof positive that the Habs captain is indeed snake-bitten. I suspect he’ll come around a lot sooner than Gomez, but just to shake things up a bit I’d really like to see this duo given a break and Gionta given a new center, like Lars Eller. I find it hard to believe Eller could be much worse than Gomez at this point.
The Insert-a-Left-Winger-Here that Jacques Martin has going on this line is surely not helping matters either. It’s hard to build some chemistry when playing with a different linemate every couple of games or couple of shifts, and while it’s not an excuse for the second line’s current lack of production, there’s no way this experimentation is helping any.
The Power Play
Currently sitting at an embarrassing 3-for-39, the Habs power play was once a strength that helped overcome their lack of 5-on-5 scoring last season. While it’s great to see the Canadiens have managed to figure out how to score goals without the extra man, it’s also imperative they score them with the man advantage.
Saturday night versus the Panthers they had another 5-on-3 advantage, and while they applied pressure, they still failed to cash in.
More traffic in front of the net and less trying for the perfect shot would probably help, but parking PP quarterback Andrei Markov on the bench for the beginning of the third period was simply another headscratcher move by the Habs head coach.
It has been 11 games and the Habs coaching staff still seemingly can’t fix this issue. Mike Cammalleri keeps saying the team is getting plenty of chances, and while that’s somewhat true, this is hockey, not horseshoes. Close doesn’t count.
Speaking of Cammalleri, he’s now taken to sniping shots from the worst possible spots, including the blue line. He’s had some pretty setups by his centerman Tomas Plekanec, but he’s having Gionta issues in that he also can’t put it in the net.
The top line is the Habs' best asset right now, but of the three players on that line, his shot is the best, and the Canadiens need to see it more consistently.
The Proposed Solutions
A couple of the names I’m seeing thrown around as possible solutions for the Habs problems are Bill Guerin and Marc-Andre Bergeron.
Bill Guerin is not going to fix the second line, even if the Habs could fit him under the cap. He’s a right winger, and the opening slot is on the left wing. He’s also 39 years old, and while he did have some good numbers last season, I’d still rather see the slot go to Benoit Pouliot, who already has five points despite being kicked downstairs.
Bergeron’s point shot would not doubt help the power play, but his defensive play is such an enormous liability that I’d rather see the Habs take their chances with PK Subban, Josh Gorges, Roman Hamrlik and Andrei Markov working the power play. Bergeron had a nasty habit of failing to hold the offensive zone, making blind passes through the neutral zone and dropping the puck rather than taking a hit.
So there’s my current list of horrors regarding the Montreal Canadiens this Happy Halloween. What are yours?