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Annik's Angle

Annik’s Angle: Where Is The Montreal Canadiens Quarterback?



Montreal Canadiens coach Alex Burrows

The Montreal Canadiens still have many pressing questions when it comes to their rebuild.

One of the most evident and longstanding issues becomes a popular topic of discussion every time the Canadiens are awarded a man advantage.

Where is our quarterback, and can the Kansas City Chiefs’ Patrick Mahomes play hockey?

Longterm Problems

We can all agree that the power play has been less than exciting these past few years.

To be more accurate, it’s been less entertaining than an off-Broadway puppet show featuring only the leftover characters from the movie Labyrinth, but almost as painful.

Unlike the Chiefs, the Canadiens do not have much confidence when it comes to players directing the show at crucial moments of the game.

In fact, the Canadiens haven’t had much semblance of a healthy power play since The General, Andrei Markov, was not re-signed by former general manager Marc Bergevin.

Being among the least effective teams on the power play every season is not only frustrating for both the fans and the players, but it’s also unacceptable for the very same franchise that once forced the NHL to change its powerplay rules because it scored too often.

The Nitty Gritty

I want to change the channel every time the Canadiens are given a powerplay opportunity, and I doubt I’m the only one. Let’s break it down, step-by-step.


Why is it such a challenge to win one?

At this point, we would be better off starting the power play in deep in our zone, since the puck ultimately ends up there in the first few seconds anyhow.

The drop pass.

Yes, that damn drop pass.

It’s not working.

It hasn’t worked for half a decade.

The Montreal Canadiens seem intent on proving Albert Einstein wrong by doing the same thing over and over while expecting different results.

The net-front presence.

Where’s our André the Giant to make life miserably on opposing goaltenders? Why not take someone like Juraj Slafkovsky, who has the size to spare, and use him there?

At the very least, he could tip some pucks and restrict the opposing goaltender’s field of vision.

And what about the coaching staff?

J.J Daigneault, Kirk Muller and Alex Burrows: three coaches who used roughly the same styles without any significant improvement. If it wasn’t working for the previous guy, why hasn’t a new approach been suggested?

Is there not a coach out there with power play experience that can help?

Oh, and about our quarterback.

Where is he?

Where is the first cross-ice pass, which forces the goaltender to re-adjust, and hopefully increase the odds the Habs will score?

Who is going to set the initial play?

Nick Suzuki is talented, but as we saw last season, he can’t do everything on his own. And waiting for phenom Lane Hutson to make his way to the NHL before addressing the issue is not an ideal way forward. In a perfect world, Hutson helps the power play rather than being tasked with single-handedly fixing it.

Montreal Canadiens Powerless Position

Admittedly, I’m nothing but an armchair GM, however, I believe that there must be some sort of tangible improvements this season even if the team is in the midst of a rebuild.

If the Canadiens once again fall to the bottom of the standings, there needs to be some sense of accountability, particularly when discussing powerplay results.

Winning a single game without solid special teams is difficult, let alone enough games to qualify for the playoffs.

Of course, we shouldn’t base our expectations on what the Canadiens have done in pre-season. And there’s always something to be said about giving the team the benefit of the doubt.

But if history is any indicator, the power play will once again be a source of frustration for both the players on the ice and the fans in the stands

And so I leave you with one question.

What would you do to improve the power play THIS season? Let us know in the comments below!

Annik Lemire will be joining the team throughout the season to provide her unique, unfiltered, fan-driven opinion regarding various Habs-related events and news.

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Use a system similar to what Ottawa does. From the point, work the puck down to a guy just off to the side of the net who either tips it on net or one-touches it to the bumper guy in the slot who then throws the puck towards the net. Everyone collapses towards the chaos in front of the net, where either a big-bodied guy shovels the puck into the net, or a winger to the side roofs a puck that squirts out of the scramble in front. We have a quarterback. His name is Matheson. We have big bodies for in front of the net in Anderson and Slafkovsky. We have guys with slick hands that can tip the puck at the side of the net or thread the needle cross-ice in Suzuki and Monahan. And, we have a sniper who can shoot it wherever there’s a pea-sized opening in Caufield, plus 2 future triggermen in Ylonen and Heinemen. You can thank me later for helping you keep your job, Mr. Burrows. 😁


Next year I think we will have 2 good ones lane hutson logan mailloux. This year it will be milke Matheson.

Coach K

You can’t ask for a PP QB without a playbook. The old school powerplay quarterback was essential for an umbrella or overload powerplay, but since the 1-3-1 became the norm, you can’t have a singular leader on the PP, because your point of attack is supposed to vary. That is the biggest problem with the Habs’ PP.

Granted, during the regular season, Matheson will join Suzuki on the first wave, everyone will know they will be the focal points.

A good power play needs to create from all 4 points of attack (point, half-wall, goal line and bumper).

It also needs practice, skill and patience. We have all 3, but we don’t have the teacher to show the boys how to prepare for each situation and options.

And I agree about the “slingshot” to Suzuki. It’s a zone entry and speed killer.

Great read, Annik. Thank you.

David MacLeod

One thing that I consistently see is a big lack of free wheeling movement with a purpose – it all screams predictability which is quite easy to defend against. It all looks so robotic and structured to me, like they’re overthinking it. Is it the coaching or players? I am leaning towards coaching as they do not seem to be able to find a way to threaten. You have an extra guy out there but it rarely appears that way. If you are covered, find an open space – there’s lots more room out there when they only have 4/3 guys. This really is NOT rocket science. They can do lots better right now I feel, even without an elite/high level quarterback, Is there an option to decline taking the power play? Don’t laugh, it is almost coming to that…

Coach K

It’s predictable because there are 3 variations on the PP the Habs go to.

1) Suzuki curl and shoot from the right side.
2) The cross-seam pass to Caulfield or whoever is posted on the left side.
3) Wrist shot from the point looking for a rebound (even though the shot is up high).

There is a lot you can do with a 1-3-1 PP that no one wants to try. It takes some creativity and skill. But the most successful power plays are the ones that allow for player input. If your players have a certain skill set and your PP is built to pre-determined roles and outcomes, it becomes predictable and ineffective.


Norlinder has shown he is mobile enough to keep the puck in the zone and is a superb passer. But he’s in Laval for now.


I might be the least qualified power play consultant. My suggestion is to use Arber Xhekaj
as a forward on the power play. Perhaps I am wearing rose colored glasses, but a think Nicolas Beadin of the Laval Rockets is a very good quarterback. And Norlinder impresses me a lot also.


Norlinder was the best solution to a PP that struggled for years and they sent him down. I would dress him as a seventh defence man, use him on the PO and use Arber as a forward in the front of the net unless Slavkovsky can prove he can be that man.

Last edited 1 month ago by Davidov

where is he?