Before the season began, Carey Price faced more pressure than any other player in the NHL.
Now it’s James Wisniewski.
The wheels are coming off your Montreal Canadiens.
And the new defenceman, who will join the team for the end of this disastrous road trip, can’t solve all their problems.
Give them credit for consistency: the Canadiens have been shut out four times – all by 3-0 scores.
And don’t hang this on Carey Price. He made 28 saves, several of them sensational.
P.K. Subban played a decent game after another enforced vacation.
Lars Eller played 11 quality minutes.
Everyone else …
Consider the stats of the team’s best forward:
Tomas Plekanec had one shot on goal, lost 15 of 21 faceoffs and took six minutes in penalties.
Scott Gomez took 12 faceoffs and lost them all.
Consider Roman Hamrlik and Jaro Spacek playing 25:34 and 24:37, respectively.
Yes, they were heroic during Andrei Markov’s absence last season. But the Old Czechs were younger.
They’re 36. Hamrlik and Spatch play against the best forwards in the league. And when the opposing coach gets last change, it’s Alexandre Picard and Yannick Eber trying to contain the likes of Alex Ovechkin, Nicklas Backstrom, Alexander Semin et al.
The Canadiens weren’t terrible in Washington. They shut down one of the league’s most dangerous power plays, they forced Semyon Varlamov into some good stops.
But when the Caps grabbed an early lead ..
Well, you know the grim numbers:
Your Montreal Canadiens are 0-11 when trailing after one period, 0-14 when behind after 40 minutes.
On Dec. 7, the Canadiens were 18-8-2, good for first place in the Northeast Division.
Heading to sunny Florida – where Guy Boucher awaits – they’re 20-15-2 … good for eighth, and hoping the Wiz can help.
Wisniewski will help the power play, where the Canadiens cannot get a shot on goal from the point.
He’s a physical Dman who’ll keep the big thumpers off Carey Price.
With a solidified defence and strong goaltending, the Canadiens may score first and scratch out a few one-goal wins.
But what can Wiz do to get the forwards going?
Smack them around in practice?
No one on this team goes to the net.
The Canadiens are a perimeter team that doesn’t generate second chances.
RDS showed Tomas Plekanec going after Subban in practice. How often do we see that edge in games?
The guys with size either lack talent (Mathieu Darche, Travis Moen, Maxim Lapierre, who played four minutes) experience (Lars Eller, Max-Pac) or heart (AK46, Benoit Pouliot, who played all of 8:20 in Washington.)
Pleks, Scott Gomez, Brian Gionta and Michael Cammalleri are talented smurfs, unwilling or unable to go into the dirty areas.
One illustrative play: Cammalleri was parked at the side of the crease, trying to get into scoring position in front of Semyon Varlamov. His efforts to do so were countered by Karl Alzner, whom no one has ever mistaken for Scott Stevens.
Cammalleri was totally sealed off. Alzner didn’t yield an inch.
The Canadiens lose battles like that all over the ice, in every game.
Help is on the way in the person of Jimmy Wiz.
Will it be enough?
• • •
In their last two games, the Canadiens have scored once and taken 14 minor penalties, a double minor and a boarding major.
It’s officially a slump.
• • •
Boston and Carolina win.
Is it me, or is it getting kinda warm?