The Montreal Canadiens were the best team in the NHL for the first month of the season. It took ten games for them to take a loss, while the rest of the league tried to figure them out. Their season is telling a different story right now.
The Canadiens have lost all but two games in December. Carey Price has not played in one game, in what is becoming a miserable holiday. Their massive lead in the Atlantic Division is now down to one measly point. The Boston Bruins and the Florida Panthers are on the tail of the Canadiens, and they both have games at hand.
The Canadiens just aren’t elite without Price is in net. During this month, the Canadiens scored two or less goals in every game besides one. It must be a confidence issue with this team, because they are still ranked fifth in the league in scoring with 2.89 goals per game.
This next month will be key for the Canadiens’ season. They don’t have an easy stretch of games until the end of January. That is around when Price should be returning. The Canadiens need to keep their head above water.
If the Canadiens lose just four more points in the standings, they will be out of the playoffs. They have 3-4 more weeks where they need to lean on Dustin Tokarski and Mike Condon.
What really needs to turn around are the forwards. They have been terrible in Price’s absence. Max Pacioretty scored 24 points in the first two months. He has 3 points in December with a minus-11 rating. Alex Galchenyuk has five points and a minus-6 rating. P.K. Subban, considered by many as the best defenseman in the league, has four assists and a minus-3 rating this month. December has been a collective failure for the Canadiens.
It is now on Michel Therrien to get this team playing better. They are clearly not playing to their potential, and that’s on the coach to fix.
The Canadiens are going to turn it around, but they really can’t afford to wait until Price gets back. With how hot this Division is, another bad month could put a big deficit in front of them for the playoffs. They don’t want to have Price come into a situation in which he needs to save the season.