It was no secret that this season was going to be tougher for the Montreal Canadiens. They had to sneak into the playoffs last year when all they had to do was beat out the rest of the trash Canadian teams, and then went on a run because Carey Price was able to channel 2014 for a few weeks.
But this year saw a return to their normal environs of the Atlantic Division, with the built-in contenders blocking the playoff spots. Toronto, Boston, Tampa, Florida — these were massive obstacles. Then the Habs had Shea Weber essentially retire, and Price had to leave the team as well. Before they even dropped the puck, things looked dark.
It’s certainly started that way. The Canadiens got tonked at home by the Sharks last night, their fourth loss out of four. And the Sharks aren’t the type of team you want putting their feet up in your place. They definitely have holes in their socks and will dig something out of their ear that they’ll wipe on the couch.
The Canadiens are not only 0-4 but have a -12 goal-difference in those four games. They’ve scored just three times. They have the fourth-worst xG percentage in the league, and are also bottom-10 in attempts-percentage (Corsi). Their 3.74 shooting-percentage is obviously not sustainable and will rebound at some point. But this is a team that doesn’t really have a genuine top-line player or a top-pairing defenseman. Without any elite snipers, it’s hard to know how much that shooting percentage will come back.
And it’s not like the Habs are missing a bunch of chances and are just waiting for their luck to turn around. They have the second-lowest xG per 60 minutes at even-strength, just behind the absolutely braindead Hawks.
It’s going to be a rough comedown from last summer for the Canadiens faithful. It may be early, but it’s been proven you better be around the playoff spots by Thanksgiving.