BROSSARD, Que.,–”Who’s going to shoot the puck?”
That was the easy query one scout in attendance at Thursday’s recreation on the Bell Centre between the Montreal Canadiens and Los Angeles Kings requested in regards to the residence aspect’s energy play. It’s one the Canadiens are going to have a tough time answering within the absence of Shea Weber, Max Pacioretty and Alex Galchenyuk.
“Effectively you hope it doesn’t take too lengthy [to figure out],” stated Canadiens coach Claude Julien on Wednesday. “If it’s going to take some time, I believe, on the finish of the day, it’s for us to work on to get the fitting individuals in the fitting locations and make it profitable. There’s nonetheless some tweaking that we do alongside the way in which as we watch video games and we see what’s happening, and we’re attempting to clearly make it higher. That’s the aim on the finish of the day—that our energy play has a optimistic impact on our recreation.”
It had the other impact within the Three-Zero loss to Los Angeles.
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Down 2-Zero late within the second interval, the Canadiens have been gifted three power-play alternatives in a five-minute span. They managed a complete of two pictures on web.
“We undoubtedly have to maneuver the puck faster,” stated Julien after the sport. “And whenever you get these taking pictures alternatives, you gotta shoot. I believe there have been instances tonight the place I felt our guys have been attempting to pressure these cross-ice passes as a substitute of perhaps simply placing pucks on the web and attempting to leap on these unfastened pucks.”
Weber, who owns arguably probably the most deadly slapshot within the NHL, will return sooner or later within the close to future from low season knee surgical procedure to assist the Canadiens generate rebounds to pounce on. Presumably in November, however extra possible in December.
However Pacioretty and Galchenyuk, who have been 30-goal scorers for the Canadiens, have been traded in the summertime for gamers—Tomas Tatar and Max Domi—who don’t fairly have the identical scoring pedigree. The primary two have been pure shooters, however we are able to’t say the identical of their replacements.
Each Tatar and Domi are at present positioned to manage the move of play on separate energy play items, with Tatar working from the fitting half-wall and Domi patrolling the left. Andrew Shaw, Joel Armia and Brendan Gallagher are net-front presences, and Artturi Lehkonen, Jonathan Drouin and Jesperi Kotkaniemi rove across the excessive slot.
It’s a bunch that options lots of creativity and willpower, however nobody member of it actually stands out for his or her taking pictures skill.
Victor Mete, who mans the purpose on one of many items, isn’t any exception to that, leaving Jeff Petry as the one pure taking pictures choice on Montreal’s energy play.
“It makes their energy play simple to defend,” stated the scout. “You need to have a number of taking pictures threats on a unit, it’s the one solution to preserve the penalty killers guessing. In the event you don’t have that, you virtually keep away from organising that good level shot since you don’t need to be predictable.
“The issue is that when you do this, you find yourself attempting to make all of the performs occur from down low and everyone knows it’s exhausting to get positioning between the dots with any form of frequency. What you find yourself with is a play that strikes across the perimeter.”
It’s actually what the Canadiens have had via three video games, changing on simply considered one of their 11 energy performs to date.
How will they regulate?
“I believe we’ve gotta discover methods the place guys who aren’t naturally shooters should get the puck on web from the half-wall,” stated Drouin on Friday. “It’s a silly cliché, however we additionally should get guys going to the web and getting their noses soiled. If we’re not converging to these areas, it’s not going to work. We’ve guys who’re good at that, simply take a look at [Gallagher].
“And we now have to cease forcing performs. Seam passes occur off of pictures and rebounds, it’s not often off a set play on a faceoff. Guys defend too nicely for that to work on a regular basis. When you shoot, you get groups off stability and that’s the place you discover these seams and back-door performs. We’ve to only put the puck on web, irrespective of who’s taking pictures it.”
That’s how Drouin scored all 4 of his targets on the ability play final season. It’s how he scored the vast majority of his 9 targets on the ability play the season earlier than that, too.
“Particularly as a lefty enjoying the left aspect, I do know I have to shoot that extra typically,” stated Drouin. “When that puck comes via and you place it on the quick aspect, it’s fairly exhausting to cease for any goalie.”
The opposite gamers at present employed on Montreal’s energy play are going to should undertake the identical mentality.
They’ll be given an opportunity to, with Julien saying on Friday that he isn’t able to make wholesale adjustments simply but.
“I believe proper now whether or not we make one change or we don’t make any, I don’t assume it’s a blow-up state of affairs on the ability play,” he stated. “I believe we have to give it a little bit of time to seek out its confidence, its groove and its consolation stage.”
With so many new gamers within the combine, it’s going to take time.
However even with time, not having sufficient pure shooters goes to be a substantial impediment to beat for the Canadiens’ energy play.