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?
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?
Kirby Dach creates space, Mike Matheson puts the puck on net, and Juraj Slafkovsky capitalizes on the rebound to score for the Habs.
1-0 Canadiens pic.twitter.com/ibFRMqNDqS
— Marc Dumont (@MarcPDumont) October 7, 2023
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.