Monday, 25 January 2016

Fundaments of a losing streak, Part 3.

(January 19, 2016)

Bruce Arthur explained today that the Canadiens really aren’t playing that badly.

Funny thing for Montreal: They won with bad possession numbers last year. Last 25 games this year: ANA, 55.4CF%. LAK, 55.4%. MTL: 54.65%.

Over that 25-game span, Montreal's also 28th in 5 on 5 save percentage, 29th in 5 on 5 shooting percentage, 30th in the ol' PDO.

A lot of their woes can be attributed to the fact that since Carey was re-injured, Mike Condon and Dustin Tokarski went into a prolonged swoon (to be kind), out of which the goalies are just pulling out of. Mike had four or five games recently where he pitched a combined .950 or thereabouts, before another blip the last three games.

At the same time, their shooting percentage during the same interval has been at the bottom of the league too. This is one of the stats that is flaky, tends to be luck-driven, in that it’s not reliable from game to game or year to year. Stats-heads warned us about this after Patrick Roy’s triumphant first season as head coach, or the Leafs in 2013-14, how their high shooting percentage were unsustainable, and that they were poised for a(n 18-wheeler going over a cliff) fall.

So again, if we had had even average goaltending during this losing streak, we wouldn’t be in this mess. Remember how after the hot start people were saying all we needed to do was play .500 hockey for the rest of the season? That’s where we’d be, if we had had a decent, reliable backup goalie.

Now, I don’t “blame” the goalies and rest this streak solely on not having Carey Price. ‘Blame’ is too strong a word.

I don’t think we should blame Mike Condon and Dustin Tokarski, and now Ben Scrivens, since they are trying hard, doing the best they can. I think that’s what Michel Therrien was getting at when he said his goalies lacked experience, he wasn’t so much pointing the finger as much as he was trying to explain, to protect them.

If anyone should be blamed, it would be Marc Bergevin, and I wouldn’t go that far also. I think the GM took a calculated risk, figuring that a young goalie could spell Carey very well for 12-15 games this season, that it would be a waste of cap space to get a more proven, experienced, and expensive backup goalie. He decided to allocated his resources elsewhere, which is defensible. It just didn’t work out for him.

But it’s inarguable that our backup goalies haven’t, on the whole, done the job. I’d be okay with adequate goaltending, and we haven’t gotten that by and large, it’s been well below average.

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