The Montreal Canadiens played their fourth game of the season in their Retro Reverse jersey, suffering yet another loss, this time 4-0 at the hands of the Seattle Kraken.
As is often the case in sports, fans have attributed the poor results to the supernatural.
The words ‘curse’ and ‘unwatchable’ has become a common refrain, and though the latter may be true, their 5v5 numbers can reveal whether or not the Canadiens truly play worse in their powder blue uniforms.
On the surface, the results do not paint a pretty picture. The Canadiens are yet to win a game this season in their Retro Reverse jerseys.
They lost 5-1 to the New Jersey Devils, 4-2 to the Los Angeles Kings, 5-2 to the Anaheim Ducks, and 4-0 to the Seattle Kraken.
The #Habs are now 0-4 in their reverse-retro sweaters after losing 4-0 to Seattle Kraken tonight at the Bell Centre. They have been outscored 18-5 in those four games. The next time they will wear the blue reverse-retro sweaters is Jan. 19 against the Florida Panthers. #HabsIO pic.twitter.com/up0gM5yKKV
— Stu Cowan (@StuCowan1) January 10, 2023
But if we isolate those particular games and compare them to the rest of the season, we get a clearer view of what took place during those games.
Throughout the season, the Canadiens have controlled a little over 47.7 percent of the 5v5 shots in their games.
While wearing their regular jerseys, they had a lower control of the overall shots, at 47.5 percent.
With the Retro Reverse threads? Their shot control went up to 48 percent.
It’s an argument against the curse theory, albeit, not a very strong one.
High-Danger Chances (5v5)
The Canadiens are one of the worst teams in the league when it comes to their share of high-danger chances. They’ve only managed a 43 percent control throughout the year.
That number drops to 42.7 percent in their regular numbers and goes up to 45.6 percent while wearing the Retro Reverse jerseys, yet another strike against the curse theory.
It should be noted, given the sample size for the new jerseys, one game can make a significant impact on the results, such as the Kraken game, in which the Canadiens held a surprisingly high control of the high-danger chances (11-7).
But regardless of the sample size, we can say, with confidence, the Canadiens control more quality chances when they’re not playing in their regular jerseys.
Expected Goals – Actual Goals (5v5)
The Canadiens have managed to control 44.2 percent of the expected goals (xGF%) this season. There’s absolutely no difference between their results when we isolate the regular jerseys, but there’s a slight dip with the Retro Reverse (43.6%).
And while the predictive value of xGF% shouldn’t be discounted, fans are probably more interested in the actual results, and that’s where things get interesting.
The Canadiens have only had a 28.6 percent share of the goals in the Retro Reverse jerseys, compared to 45.3 percent without.
That’s a significant discrepancy, and the only significant deviation from their regular results, as evidenced in the table below.
Some may call it a curse, and frankly, it’s understandable.
The Canadiens’ underlying numbers are almost identical regardless of which jersey they’re wearing, but the actual results are terrible.
But the cause is likely tied to a relatively small sample size.
For example, if the Canadiens win their next game by a score of 4-0, their goals for percentage would align with the rest of the results.
With a little more shooting luck and another game or two, the numbers should normalize.
Is the jersey difficult to watch on TV? Absolutely.
Does it lack creativity in the design? Definitely.
Are fans suffering from jersey marketing fatigue? Undoubtedly.
But when it comes to the matter of being cursed, there’s very little in the numbers to suggest that’s the case.
All Montreal Canadiens statistics are 5v5 unless otherwise noted, via Natural Stat Trick.