I think I’ve found a new expression to use when my girlfriend or my teenagers are taking too long to get ready and I’m impatiently waiting for them to leave: you’re taking longer than a shootout between the Penguins and the Canadiens.
I made up my mind a few months ago: I’d like 3-on-3 overtime to last until there’s a winner in the NHL. I’m no longer enchanted by shootouts. Yesterday, I found it long and I would never have felt that way with 3-on-3 overtime .
Think of the absurdity of the stat I’ve just shared with you: the Habs can’t beat a tired team with fewer legs than they have. Worse still, they’re not as good at the end of games as they were at the start, against teams that should be vulnerable at the end.
But then, they also allowed two goals on three power-play attempts by the Penguins, who were recently 0 for 36 with the man advantage and hadn’t scored since mid-November under such circumstances. As John Lennon sang in the ’60s: You Can’t Do That.
And what about the Bell Centre crowd? They applaud Sidney Crosby wildly when he’s introduced before the game… but boo him when he’s sent off in the shootout. I know there was nothing mean about it and it’s part of the show to boo the other team’s best player, but can we look like we know what we want/do by not applauding him two hours before? It makes us look like clowns, honestly…
Emotions and rose-colored glasses
We’ve been reading and hearing these phrases a lot over the last few weeks:
Juraj Slafkovsky is blossoming and he’s the team’s best player on the ice…
Josh Anderson is back…
Cole Caufield is a superstar…
Nick Suzuki is our leader…
But if we leave our partisan emotions behind and take off our rose-colored glasses, we’re in for a real shock.
Nick Suzuki is our best player, our first center, our highest paid (not on the LTIR) and our captain. He’s playing with our best natural scorer and first overall pick in 2022; in short, his trio partners are there because they’re good, not because other players are injured.
Yet Suzuki has just 23 points in 27 games, 70th in the entire NHL. When there are 69
Vanessa Cosi players with more points than Nick Suzuki across the NHL, you understand a little better why your team ranks last in the league in goals scored by forward players.
If the first center of the Avalanche, Panthers or any other team only had 23 points, he’d be criticized. Especially if his annual salary is close to $8 million…
Cole Caufield, our star striker, has only found the back of the net seven times so far this season, many of them at 3-on-3 or 5-on-4. At 5-on-5, it’s difficult for young Caufield, whose commitment and courage to go into the pay zones is beginning to be challenged by many observers.
Seven goals is good for (roughly) 150th in the NHL. Since there are 32 teams, that means Caufield would be the 5th-best scorer on an average team in the league. He’s also fourth in Montreal.
Martin St-Louis wants to make Caufield a more complete player… but he has to be careful not to make him less good with the puck, when trying to teach him how to be better without it.
Cole Caufield is scoring fewer goals this year. Yet that’s his primary role
According to Martin McGuire, St-Louis is focusing on Cole Caufield’s development as a more complete player.
– Balado Bon Match (@BaladoBonMatch) December 14, 2023
Many claim that Juraj Slafkovsky is finally where he needs to be… that he’s been the team’s best player for a few games now.
Slafkovskyhasn’t picked up a single point in his last seven games (during which he never finished at plus-1 or better) and he hasn’t found the back of the net in his last 11 games. If that’s what it means to be the team’s best player, it just goes to show how much the team is struggling and not progressing.
I know it sometimes looks like Slaf is a monster on the ice, but when you look at a large sample and analyze the numbers-they don’t lie-the numbers still paint a mixed picture for the big Slovak.
Slafkovsky is about the 400th top scorer in the Bettman circuit this morning, tied with guys like Matt Roy, Jalen Chatfield, Nick Seeler, Kaedan Korczak and Will Cuylle. I wonder if we’ll start wondering again in a few weeks whether sending him to Laval might not be the best option for him.
If Shane Wright, instead of producing to the tune of one point per game in the AHL, had those numbers in Seattle, we’d be laughing at him big time. But the world is a fan of the Habs and their players… and it hates Shane Wright, right?
And what about Josh Anderson? Wasn’t he supposed to be back after his goal in an empty net? I was more back than he was… in 2008!
One goal and four assists in 29 games for a forward who earns an average annual salary of $5.5 million is a catastrophe, no less. More or less 500 players have more points than him in 2023-24… and 575 players have at least one goal this season. Including a goalie!
It’s time to take off our rose-colored glasses and collectively admit something: the Habs are struggling offensively, and it’s going to take a good dose of raw talent to remedy the situation. Let’s stop always breathing with our fan hearts and look at things as they are: no matter how good our defensive brigade and how good our #1 goaltender, we won’t win as long as we don’t have more punch up front. You can’t win the Cup with fine words in front of the cameras!
And no, injuries alone can’t explain everything. There’s more to it than that.
Note that I didn’t mean Christian Dvorak, who was said to be better than Phillip Danault and Jesperi Kotkaniemi, or Brendan Gallagher. They’ll be gone the day the Habs feel real pressure to win their games.
At least Sean Monahan is delivering the goods he’s paid for up front… but Montreal fans deserve better. Much better!
Is Romell having fun with us again? Or is there really something to understand about this post on Instagram two hours ago? pic.twitter.com/0PvrnesIej
– Pascal (now wise old man) (@Naud2Paul) December 14, 2023
Unless he’s only in Montreal to pick up his things and leave Quebec for good?