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Finishing in Brossard: Martin St-Louis’ (or Eric Engels’) excellent idea

An excellent club (soccer) technical director once told me that all the good teams that couldn’t string wins together had a finishing problem. In short, that if I coached a team I thought was good, I should regularly work on finishing in my training sessions.

Basically, the aim of soccer, hockey, basketball, football, baseball and other team sports is to score more goals/points than your opponents. That’s what you’re judged on as a team or as a coach, in the end.

You may have 1001 chances to score, but in the end you have to put it in.

Well, Martin St-Louis had the excellent idea of working on finishing this morning in Brossard. Unless it was a question from Eric Engels that convinced him to do so…

Martin St-Louis has never been afraid to think outside the box in his training sessions – especially since his arrival in Montreal – and he called on Adam Nicholas this morning to present a practice where the theme of finishing was obvious.

Firstly, this kind of training allows players to correct a few shortcomings in their shooting…

And second, guys like Juraj Slafkovsky are reminded that they’re damn good shooters/markers and that little dose of added confidence could well make the difference in the next few games. Slafkovsky will probably dare to use his shot more in the team’s next few games.

The Canadiens’ (three) goaltenders have been getting the job done since the start of the season. They are all posting an efficiency percentage of over .900 in 2023-24. Kent Hughes has even gone so far as to say that his goaltenders are collectively among the best (the best group) in the entire NHL right now.

The team’s defensemen could be better, we agree, but the CH’s big problem right now is that we’re not scoring enough goals.

1. No team in the Atlantic Division scored fewer goals than the CH in 2023-24 (45).

2. Only ten teams in the entire league found the back of the net less than the Tricolore.

3. Cole Caufield has only scored one 5-on-5 goal this season, even though he takes a lot of shots.

4. Only one forward has found the back of the net at 5-on-5 in the last four games: Brendan Gallagher. And this morning, it’s the forwards who have been working on their finishing…

No fewer than 10 goals have been scored by Canadiens defensemen this season.

5. Josh Anderson has plenty of chances to score, but has yet to score a goal in 16 games this season. If there’s one player for whom finishing could change everything, it’s Anderson. Relying on luck and changing sticks has its limits

Rafaël Harvey-Pinard (who was absent this morning, however), Michael Pezzetta and Christian Dvorak can all improve their efficiency near the net, too.

6. The killer statistic of the day: the Habs are the 10th team with the most shots on net so far this campaign (479), but have the 8th worst efficiency percentage in the NHL (25th). If the team’s finishing had been better, they’d be in an even better position in the standings…

7. The Canadiens haven’t scored more than 3 goals since October 28. That’s 8 games with just one, two or three goals. That makes your plan to win a little more complicated…

At best, Adam Nicholas and Martin St-Louis put their finger on the real things to correct this morning, as MSL did with Caufield about a year ago…

But at worst, he’ll just have boosted the confidence of some of his forwards, and right there, it’ ll pay off.

Smart decision, Eric Martin!

Will it pay off tomorrow against the mighty Golden Knights and/or Thursday against the nasty Bruins (in Boston)? It certainly won’t! And if nothing else, it’ll help the team pick up four points in San Jose and Anaheim next week.

In gusto

– Big cash!

– Michael McNiven (who now plays for our colleague Mitch Giguère’s team) is still capable of making big saves.

– The subject is still the talk of the town (with good reason) 24 hours later.

– 5 to 7 million for the Kings’ visit to Quebec City: Jerome Landry wants to see the glass as half full.

Renaud Raphaël Lavoie back in the NHL.

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