Montreal - After a great start to the season, having gone 8-1-1 in their first 10 games, there seem to be a few problems arising in the last six games.
Since November 7th, Montreal has been producing a measly 2-3-1 record. One of the main problems this team has been facing, is it's performance on the powerplay, or lack thereof. During the last two seasons, the Canadiens were ranked first on the powerplay.
Two years ago, it was defenceman Sheldon Souray who made the man advantage such a big success. However, with Souray's departure to the Edmonton Oilers, no one knew how Montreal would do without his impressive shots. But then came along the small, but effective, Mark Streit. Nobody predicted that Streit would eventually fill Souray's skates at the time, but he did!
Montreal was lucky to have a player like Streit, who could be used both defensively and offensively. Last year, the team finished the 2007-08 campaign atop the Eastern Conference. They had the best scoring team, as well as the best powerplay record in the NHL.
Now, Streit has gone to the New York Islanders, leaving the team with a big gaping hole. Thus, the team's powerplay has become one of the worst in the league rather than the best. Coach, Guy Carbonneau really needs to sit down and see what he can do for this team.
The major problem regarding the powerplay, are the players used on the first wave. Look back at last year. Who was used mostly? Carbonneau used Markov, Streit, Kovalev, Plekanec, and Kostitsyn. How many times did we actually see Markov pass the puck to Kovalev for a goal or, at least, for a great scoring opportunity. OK! OK! OK! This year we don't necessarily have Streit, but we still have the four other ones mentioned. The team needs to find the right guy to replace Streit.
There's no doubt that the best player to fill this role right now, is Alex Tanguay. Not necessarily for his shot, 'cause he has a good one, but it's more for his great vision and pass accuracy.
On a further note, Andrei Markov is playing on the wrong side. He should be on the left. I don't see why Carbonneau isn't using his best guys for the entire two minutes. Once you gain the zone, you don't really get tired playing on the powerplay. Everybody knows Kovy can stay on the ice for the entire time.
The team has to step it up and raise their play a notch. Latendresse has scored between 33 to 34 goals since joining the NHL, where most of them were scored within 10 feet of the net. He needs to go back to that stage. Get in traffic and look for rebounds, either passes or deflections. Maxime Lapierre has had a great start this year, but lately he's been a serious minus player. He should continue doing what he started at the beginning of the season: apply pressure and create turnovers.
Price and Halak are great goalies. Probably the best goaltending pair in the NHL. However, they need to give us huge performances when the team is not scoring tons of goals. Price is good, but still very young, and far from maturity. Halak could represent a good trade option for Gainey.
I personally would be very happy if Halak had the chance of becoming another team's N.1 netminder. He definitly has the potential. With Marc Denis doing extremely well in Hamilton, he could easily be Price's backup, and act as a good mentor.
There are many good players on the team, but they really need to step up. The team has great depth, but also have many young guys pushing in Hamilton.
So, what is the solution? A trade? Call ups? I was going to say only Gainey will tell, but we have a better chance if we just let time do all the talking before Bob Gainey does.