- The Montreal Canadiens are now in the midst of their second eight-game winless skid of the season
- The Habs are just 1-3-2 against Detroit, New Jersey and Ottawa, the bottom-three teams in the conference
- With former Hart Trophy-winner Carey Price having a sub-par year, Montreal has conceded of 3.23 goals per game, ninth-worst in the NHL
After missing out on last year’s playoffs by just three points, fans in Montreal were full of confidence during the off-season that a few moves here and there and a couple of roster shuffles would be enough to return the Canadiens to the postseason.
Reality hasn’t borne that out, however, with the Habs now onto their second eight-game winless streak of the season after Thursday night’s 4-2 home loss to the Edmonton Oilers. As a result, the Canadiens have seen their NHL Eastern Conference odds plummet from an average of +1550 less than two months ago to +7125 now.
2020 Eastern Conference Odds
|Tampa Bay Lightning||+450|
|Toronto Maple Leafs||+700|
|New York Islanders||+1000|
|Columbus Blue Jackets||+2500|
|New York Rangers||+5000|
|New Jersey Devils||+15000|
|Detroit Red Wings||+250000|
Odds taken 01/09/20
Injury Bug Bites
At 35.1 shots per game, the Habs are top in the NHL in that department. Unfortunately, with an injury-decimated forwards corps, there just hasn’t been enough quality to convert those shots into goals.
— Stu Cowan (@StuCowan1) January 9, 2020
Jonathan Drouin, Paul Byron and Joel Armia are all currently on the injured list, while Brendan Gallagher made his return Thursday night after missing four games with a concussion. Add to that the fact that Jesperi Kotkaniemi missed 15 games earlier in the year with an injury and a concussion, and much of Montreal’s forward depth has fallen by the wayside, along with most of the team’s hopes of winning the Eastern Conference.
For Once, the Price Isn’t Right
With Hart and Vezina Trophies, as well as a dominating Olympic gold-medal success in Sochi, on his resume, Carey Price has long held the mantle of the world’s best goaltender. But this season, for what is arguably the first time, that title is under threat.
— Edmonton Oilers (@EdmontonOilers) January 10, 2020
Not by the play of others, mind, but more because of the difficulty the 32-year-old is having in living up to the impossibly high standards he set earlier in his career.
He started the season off well enough, as was reflected by the Canadiens record during that time, where they flirted with playoff position and saw their odds of winning the Eastern Conference as high as +1550 as a result. Price went 10-5-3 in his first 18 starts, with a .912 save percentage and a 2.71 goals-against average.
Beset by inconsistency, defensive woes and injuries over the past month & a half, the #Canadiens have tailed off after a positive start to 2019-20 as their loss vs TBL tonight has them ranking 2nd worst here pic.twitter.com/DIGTZXyzgU
— StatsCentre (@StatsCentre) January 3, 2020
However, since Nov. 23, the goaltender has gone 6-11-1 with a .890 save percentage and 3.16 GAA, and the team’s fortunes have suffered along with him.
Plumbing the Depths
So far this season, Montreal has dropped eight points in the six games it has played against the Detroit Red Wings, Ottawa Senators and New Jersey Devils.
That trio makes up the basement of the Eastern Conference, and the Canadiens’ play so far has them on course to join those three teams in the conference gutter, sitting just six points in front of the Senators with the capital club having two games in hand.
Despite another close final score, scoring 1st sagain & holding a multi-goal lead, the defensively porous #Canadiens lost for an 8th straight time. With their winless run now at 8 (the 2nd such skid this year), they're behind just 4 streaks here pic.twitter.com/5qKuysPSTw
— StatsCentre (@StatsCentre) January 10, 2020
Conversely, if the Habs had picked up those eight points, they’d be sitting just a point back of Philadelphia and Carolina in the wild-card spots. But they didn’t, and a result, with the team running up a second eight-game losing streak in a single season for just the second time in franchise history, the team’s chances of contending for the Eastern Conference crown are all but over.
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