The winds of change are swirling for the Montreal Canadiens and certainly came through on Tuesday when the Habs fired coach Michel Therrien and replaced him with Claude Julien. It’s a homecoming of sorts for Julien who was fired by the Boston Bruins on February 7th but had previously coached the Canadiens from 2003-06 and also replaced Therrien to begin his previous stint as the team’s coach.
The Canadiens (31-19-8), who lead the Atlantic Division with 70 points but are 1-5-1 in their past seven games, have struggled since starting the season 13-1-1. Since that hot start they have posted a 18-18-7 and the coaching change comes as the team is enjoying a 5-day break. It also marks the second consecutive season that the team has posted a hot start only to cool off significantly at some point.
Montreal can also point to some crushing injuries as to why they have faltered of late. They have had to play without center Alex Galchenyuk, right wing Brendan Gallagher and defenseman Andrei Markov. When the players returned to the ice, the team’s play did not improve.
Montreal lost back-to-back games over the weekend and their loss on Sunday to the Boston Bruins was the 3rd time they were shutout in 5 games.
“As a player, especially as the captain, you feel guilty,” Montreal’s Max Pacioretty told Sportsnet on Tuesday. “Ultimately, if we had performed better, especially as of late, then you don’t force management to have to make a decision like this. We definitely have been underperforming as of late, but I feel it’s on the players. We’ve seen around the League this tends to be the result when teams don’t step up and perform. I have nothing but great things to say about Michel, and that’s what makes this pretty tough for me.”
“It’s just one of those things where we had gotten away from our identity as a team,” Brendan Gallagher told Sportsnet. “In no way am I blaming the coach for that, that’s more on us as players. I think as a group we’ve just got to get back to what made us successful.”
“I came to the conclusion that our team needed a new energy, a new voice, a new direction,” Canadiens general manager Marc Bergevin said in a statement. “Claude Julien is an experienced and well-respected coach with a good knowledge of the Montreal market. Claude has been very successful as an NHL coach and he won the Stanley Cup. Today we hired the best available coach, and one of the League’s best. I am convinced that he has the capabilities to get our team back on the winning track.”
The Philadelphia Flyers vs The Montreal Canadiens 10-24-2016: A Learning Experience In Canada!
Philadelphia Flyers played the Montreal Canadiens on 10-24-2016, there is Moracek from Scoracek and room for improvement.
Photo by Francois Lacasse NHLI via Getty Images
The Philadelphia Flyers played the Montreal Canadiens in the Bell Center on October 24th, 2016. It is a deceptively close contest of skill, self control and not scoring in the 1st period.
Goals scorers for the first period: Nobody! The Montreal Canadiens also failed to scored during the opening period. Although that doesn’t mean that since the Habs didn’t score that the Flyers shouldn’t either. The first ended tied at 0-0. The Flyers made 6 shots on goal versus the Canadiens 9.
Philadelphia Flyers have continued what is becoming a tradition; not scoring in the first period. Out of the six games played this season thus far, they have only scored once in the first period. This was during their game against the Arizona Coyotes. In the first period of all six games played so far, the Flyers have had fewer shots on goal than the following period. Their second periods are all more plentiful in shots on goal, yet, in the third period of 4 out of six games, they have an abating number of shots on goal. In one, the number remained equal from the second to third period. The exception is the game against Montreal.
Shea Weber opened scoring in the second period (and game) at 5:28, giving the Canadiens the lead 1-0. The shot deflected off of Philadelphia’s Brayden Schenn and amazed many, Weber himself included; “That was a crazy one, it just kind of found its way in.”
After some sumptuous and splendiferous stick work, the Flyers Jakub Voracek tied the game 1-1 at 11:47 into the period. Claude Giroux and Brandon Manning assisted. Philadelphia was more competitive regarding shots on goal for the second. It created a more equal result of 12 for the Orange and Black and 13 for the Le Bleu-Blanc-Rouge. With increased shots on goal notwithstanding, the score remained the same for the remainder of the period.
Flyer Jake Voracek shared his view of the game; “We played well; it was a good road game, we skated well. It was like the other games we lost this year. We were right there in the third period.”
The Flyers kept the game tied with some amazing work from Philadelphia goalie Steve Mason, who made 30 saves. Sorrowfully, Canadien Brendan Gallagher returned the lead to Montreal 2-1 at 13:08 into the final period. The Flyers heightened their scoring efforts with 14 shots on goal compared to the Canadiens 11. Lamentably, Alexander Radulov sealed the win for the Canadiens with the final goal at 18:57. The final score was 3-1. The Canadiens have defeated the Flyers five times in succession at home in the Bell Center.
“I felt Mason played really well but I thought our team played very well.” Flyers coach Dave Hakstol was pleased with his teams performance; “I didn’t think we had to steal anything, I thought our team played well, played a really solid road game. That always starts with your goaltender. He was good and I thought we played a solid game in front of him.”
The number of penalties the Flyers accrued and how that number compares to the Canadiens was large factor in their loss. Throughout the season, so far, the Philadelphia Flyers have been fairly reliable in keeping their ratio of penalties against their adversaries relatively even. This means that they have not had many blatant, far and away advantages or opportunities to run rough shod over their competitors in glorious manner. It also means their competitors have not had the opportunity to turn the Flyers into their own personal area rug. Not including the October 18th 7-4 loss against the Chicago Blackhawks, their losses have had close final scores. There are varying factors contributing to a win or a loss with teams that are closely matched. Taking one less penalty or producing more on the power play may not be the deciding factor in who arises victorious.
It will not, however, hurt their chances make more of an effort to avoid penalties and take advantage of a one man advantage, in a general sense.
The exceptions are their October 15th game against the Arizona Coyotes and the game in relevance against the Montreal Canadiens. The Coyotes game gave them 7 power plays and 2 penalty kills. Capitalizing on this large portion of power plays could have accordingly made the difference in the 3-2 loss. The Philadelphia Flyers racked up 4 penalties against the Canadiens, while Montreal only had one. The Flyers had to spend more time compensating than their opponents. This could also have been the difference in who was winning and losing that game. These 2 games have a very obvious difference in penalties, but not other factors in play and could have very easily influenced in the outcome. This is especially true of the Canadiens game, where the last goal of the game was on the power play.
“I think it was a close game overall, both teams had chances to go ahead and they were able to capitalize on a couple of bounces,” said Flyers goalie Steve Mason. “That’s the ebbs and flows of the game. They found a way to win and we didn’t. We obviously need to be a little bit better there to get the two points.”
This is only 2 games, but right now, it is 1/3 of their games. If the season continues in like manner, 27+ games that could have been wins but weren’t is a very serious issue that greatly affects their prospects in the post season.
Matt Read and Wayne Simmonds’ goal streaks have ended. Matt Read’s being 5 goals in five consecutive games and Wayne Simmonds 4 goals in four consecutive games. None the less, Jakub Voracek does not have an all out streak as of right now, but the forces are in motion, with him scoring 3 goals in 2 consecutive games. This recent turn in events should not imply the Matt Read is not still the most likely candidate for King of the Universe.
Claude Giroux’s post game snack is poutine, because it is there and a grilled cheese sandwich of victory is for winners only.
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