Sunday, 20 December 2015

Fundaments of a losing streak, Part 2.

Update on a previous post on the effect goaltending has had on the Canadiens' recent losing streak.

DUSTIN TOKARSKI  SA: 29  Saves: 26  SV%: .897

PETR MRAZEK  SA: 25 Saves: 23 SV%: .920

Red Wings 3, Canadiens 2


CHRIS DRIEDGER  SA: 11 Saves: 11   SV%: 1.000

CRAIG ANDERSON  SA: 31  Saves: 28  SV%: .903

DUSTIN TOKARSKI   SA: 26   Saves: 25   SV%: .962

Canadiens 3, Senators 1


MARTIN JONES  SA: 27 Saves: 26  SV%: .963

DUSTIN TOKARSKI   SA: 12  Saves: 9  SV%: .750

MIKE CONDON    SA: 6   Saves: 6 SV%: 1.000

Canadiens 1, Sharks 3


JONATHAN QUICK   SA: 45  Saves: 45   SV%: 1.000

MIKE CONDON    SA: 19   Saves: 17    SV%: .895

Canadiens 0, Kings 3


DUSTIN TOKARSKI   SA: 4  Saves: 4    SV%: 1.000

MIKE CONDON    SA: 23   Saves: 17    SV%: .739

ANTTI NIEMI   SA: 23     Saves: 21  SV%: .913

Canadiens 2, Stars 6


Continuing with the thesis I made a couple weeks ago, the real problem with the Canadiens right now is goaltending.  Not the theory that losing Carey Price emasculated the team, that we're a one-player team like those meanies at Sportsnet keep saying.  The problem is that our backup goaltenders are simply not doing the job.

Since Carey has left us for a second, longer convalescence, we have had only two games when our backups gave a save percentage above .900, which is the Mendoza Line when it comes to NHL goaltending.  Some would argue it's actually .910, but in any case, our backups have only managed that twice in our recent losing streak.  And not coincidentally, we won both of those games.

I've played with a bad goalie behind me, and I know the effect it had on our team.  It just deflates you when he lets in another bad goal.  Again.  Like last week, and the week before. And you were kind of expecting it anyway.  You kind of started to have hope when he made those two good saves in the first period, things were almost going your way, but now it's the same old, same old, you're going to lose this frigging game.

The first time I played with a great goalie on my team, I couldn't believe the difference it made.  He was athletic and a popular guy, always talking.  He'd let out a swear when a puck went by him ("'Stie!"), I didn't even have to turn around to see it or see the other team celebrating, my signal was Stéphane letting out a curse and then skating off to the corner, refusing to fish the puck out of his net, we had to do it for him.  It was amazing when he'd make a split and another save, how competent he looked, instead of the usual little soft-spoken guys I'd played with before.

Same effect in a different sport, the first time I ever played with a great fullback on a rugby team, one who could kick, handle the ball, pass it, make good decisions.  But mainly kick, wow, was that ever great, the way he'd get us out of trouble, how now it was them scrambling.  "Oh, a fullback isn't back there to mess up huge and give up easy tries, he's actually a machine who hoovers up balls and goes on the attack?  He's actually a weapon?  Awesome..."

That's what is going on with the Canadiens.  Beyond the fact that the goalies aren't doing the job on the scoreboard, they're not making the extra one or two saves a game that would make the difference between a win and a loss, they're actually letting the air out of the balloon.

And that in my mind goes at least partway in explaining the offensive drought we're experiencing.  The team doesn't have the confidence, the enthusiasm they had early on, when they were forechecking like heck and pouncing on mistakes.

But yeah, when the Rangers lost Henrik Lundqvist for a while last season, Cam Talbot stepped up, and solidified his NHL career.  The Rangers didn't miss a beat.  Same with Martin Jones in L.A., and now both these guys got starting gigs this season.

Meanwhile, our boys are booting their opportunity, and putting some serious damage on our place in the standings.  And Marc Bergevin's decision in this area looks worse every game.  He rolled the dice and came up snake eyes.  We give him props for his great moves, but this one is a demerit.

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