MONTREAL-Let's take a thing right before we look deep into what has to be considered the most mystifying matter of these Montreal Canadians: It was not a thing they could have done to avoid losing 4-0 to Boston Bruins at Bell Center on Monday.
They were disgusting in almost every department in a crucial game against their most bitter rivals.
Effort? Awful. Execution? Non-existent. Excuses? No.
"They came here to win, we came here just to play," said Canadian coach Claude Julien afterwards, and he had no explanation as to why that was the case.
Bruinsna came to town on a hard loss for Buffalo Sabers on Sunday, and they should have been tough for a well-liked Canadiens team who had won six of their last eight games. It was expected that they would fly out of the gates and try to give a lead that they could bug and protect and know that every appropriate second would be a challenge for their endurance.
They did their part, Canadians did not. Point final.
This is the case: You have to wonder how different differences in this game could have been if Montreals power games found a way to capitalize on their chances in the first two periods.
Canadien's Goaltender Carey Price was on his head for the first 40 minutes and kept his team alive after all that had done to kill himself in this. During the first period, Price made 12 is enough after his teammates made 14 sales and lost 60 percent of faceoffs, and in others he held the fort all the way until Bruins found the net with 26 seconds left.
On the other hand, three power-play opportunities were talented for Canadians. They did not meet a single quality scoring opportunity on either of them.
Mystifying? You bet.
This is the way: the team has not scored in its 25 latest benefits. It has only one since Shea Weber – the man with the biggest puncture in the NHL – returned 10 matches since. And it has scored only 14 of 117 chances this season (only three teams in the league have got more).
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It seems impossible that one of the league's most reputable strategists who run it in Kirk Muller, with a brilliant offensive coordinator in Dominique Ducharme, will help him and the talented players who managed to make Canada's second-highest scoring team at five -on-five this season.
Still, the poor power game has not cost Canada's place among the top eight teams in their conference. However, it has not enabled them to get a stronger foothold in the playoff image.
It cost them to Boston without a doubt. A team that came in Montreal down a point in the stakes and left one.
And when the games tighten in the second half, the power play promises to cost Canadians more if they do not solve it in a hurry.
You must wonder how close Canadians are to find solutions. Judging by what they show on the ice, they seem very far away. And when they talk to them, they seem to know what needs to be done when they are built, but seem completely unclear how to consistently establish themselves in the offensive.
"I just think we have to shoot the puck," Price said. "When things go wrong, it just seems like it's a simple recipe that everyone seems to come on. Just get the puck to the net and just pour it in."
Four of Montréal's 22 shots hit the power game – and nobody was close enough to the jellyfish in a rebound.
Julien shared his own thoughts and said that the team did not reconsider her strategy back to last season when it worked 21.9 percent and ended 13 in the category.
"I think at one point, as much as a coach does not want to point my fingers, I think the players have to get involved," says Julien. "They are your best players in your team and they must start performing. They must start pushing puckers and want to score."
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Canadiens must also find a way up the ice that allows them to break into the offensive with more consistency. They need better support to win loose puckers and set up their structure.
And they must find the desperation that lacked Bruins's lack. The desperation that has largely not been there since the puck was released in Toronto on October 3th.
"It's just the little things," said Brendan Gallagher. "We have to win puck fighting." It's not a strategic problem, it's just work ethic, racing. "We need to find a way to get the puck." We did not have enough control over the puck in the zone to put into practice something we've been working on or talked about. That's simple. It's not strategic. "
Whatever it is or not, it's a problem. A confusing one.
Had Canadiens solved it this night, it may not have been enough to save them. They were outstop 35-22 and out-chanced with a wide margin as they gave away the puck 24 times and had taken it away from them another seven.
"But when you take advantage of the potential of power, you play 1-0, you have the opportunity to tie the game and that's what we put out there for," said Canadian defender Jeff Petry. "It's performing and achieving a big goal at one great time in the game, and we have not been able to do that. "