The Montreal Canadiens, we were told, were more built for the playoffs. They finally got a much-needed rest after a brutal, compressed schedule.
The playoffs started and for one game, Montreal seemed to be right. Yes, Carey Price had to stand on his head and Paul Byron scored a near-miraculous short-handed goal.
Then, Game 2 was when reality set in. Even without John Tavares, Auston Matthews and company scored five times in a 5-1 rout that changed the series. Montreal was not the same even though they have held Matthews without a point since.
So many things will have to change, barring an epic miracle, but Montreal is almost certainly headed into an offseason where adjustments need to be made.
The Montreal Canadiens need better shooters…
This is 100% true. Even Tyler Toffoli, for as good as he was this season, was quite streaky. Look at all those goals he scored against the Vancouver Canucks. Take those away and his year is not quite as significant. Overall, in this Toronto series, Montreal is shooting at 3.51% (4 for 114) and that even-strength percentage is a hair under three. Toronto is below its season average but is managing a 9.45% so far.
The former is definitely Montreal being Montreal. It keeps recurring as a huge problem. Even during their hot start, most acknowledged their shooting prowess was at best, unsustainable. At worse, it was going to careen off the rails. The latter has happened in this Toronto series.
Keep in mind, players like Cole Caufield did not even play in Games 1 and 2. Caufield generates chances and shots for better or for worse. He has four shots on seven attempts in his two games with five scoring opportunities. At least he is playing 17:45 a night. If only, the forward again had played earlier. Nick Suzuki is a nice playmaker but not really a shooter first.
Brendan Gallagher has not been right since coming back from his broken thumb. The thought process is that Gallagher was rushed back or came back too soon. It seems like there is some damage to those ligaments perhaps after all.
That lack of ability to score has made Toronto’s life easy. Jack Campbell has not really been tested as even quality chances felt fleeting especially in Game 4. It is likely too late to avoid the inevitable.
So what does Marc Bergevin do next?
Free agency is going to be a bit limited and there is still a flat salary cap to consider. Montreal does not expect to make a big splash in free agency. Something does need to be done as the system in Montreal is broken when it comes to offense.
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Does Marc Bergevin or someone else bring in a more offensive-minded coach?
That is the big question this offseason. It will also be something dove into further once the uncertainty rings itself out of Montreal. Few know what direction this team may or may not truly go. However, it has been crystal clear that changes need to be made. Something has to jolt this team because the shooting problems did not just appear overnight.
Dominique Ducharme had this look after Game 4 like his days were numbered as an interim coach. He looked like he had no answers for his team’s shooting woes. Every move Ducharme has made seems to have caused further problems. Again, the system is broken. It is not just Ducharme that is the problem. It is Bergevin as well.
Geoff Molson, it’s your move this summer!