The Canadian lacks creativity on the power play
Special teams are the sinews of war in the NHL. We had a good example of this last night at the Bell Centre.
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The Canadian was shut out six times on the powerplay en route to a 4-0 loss to the San Jose Sharks.
This is the second time in a week that this has happened. He also bit the dust six times in his crushing loss to the Buffalo Sabers.
This first loss in three games highlighted one of the recent shortcomings of Martin St-Louis’ team since the start of the season. The first unit of power play is starting to be predictable.
Suzuki is the conductor. Caufield sets up to get a one-timer shot. The other players try to join Caufield in every possible way to surprise the opponent.
We can say that the surprise effect has faded for a few games.
The other teams have studied their habits and it shows. They are watching Caufield closely even though he is isolated on the rink.
It was even more egregious against the Sharks, who are first in the NHL on the penalty kill. The Californians left the Suzuki-Caufield duo no leeway except for a chance to score in the first period. Their defensive square was very aggressive on the puck carrier. He had little time to make his decisions.
Maybe it’s time for power play manager Alex Burrows to stir things up. We should better exploit a Sean Monahan who is posted in front of the net. It’s been his office since the start of his career.
« Defenders were very aggressive on me, » Nick Suzuki said. We tried to have a better position when the puck ended up at the bottom of the zone.
“We had enough scoring chances to thread the needle.”
Then when they had a pitching opportunity, they had a Sharks player in front of them. With 28 shots blocked, including nine by Nick Bonino and Marc-Édouard Vlasic, they managed to annoy the young Canadian forwards.
Stop the musical chair
We saw Arber Xhekaj on the press gallery. The young man does not deserve to be in this place. The same goes for the quality of his game.
We must now ask ourselves the following question: is the musical chair with the young defenders coming to an end?
You might think not. With many trips in the coming weeks, Martin St-Louis will want to have all his resources on hand in case of injury or poor performance.
On the other hand, it’s time to have a little stability by using the same formation for a few matches.
His replacement, Jordan Harris, did not have a bad game. He didn’t play badly enough to lose his spot in the first game in Western Canada.
Starting Thursday, the Habs embark on a four-game road trip. They will play in Calgary, Edmonton, Vancouver and Seattle.
These four meetings could be decisive for the future. Martin St-Louis would like to have at least two wins, but it won’t be easy.
To obtain this result, the veterans will have to work twice as hard. Nick Suzuki and Cole Caufield need offensive help.
Players like Josh Anderson and Brendan Gallagher will need to produce more. In Anderson’s case, he tends to disappear in certain games. As for Gallagher, the effort is there, but the luck is a little less so.
It will also be interesting to see St-Louis’ use of goaltenders. Could we see Samuel Montembault for half of the matches? It is not impossible.