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Montreal Canadiens’ 2019-20 Issues Begin within the Crease

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I promised myself I’d not write dangerous stuff concerning the Montreal Canadiens. Mired in a horrible stretch of hockey with solely three wins of their final 10 video games, it’s straightforward to affix the mob of offended followers. However I wish to abstain for now. So, I deleted the piece I began about basic supervisor Marc Bergevin’s failings, and filed away the one about how terrible the Canadian NHL groups have been relative to their American counterparts for greater than 20 years. I made a decision to let the numbers information my investigation into what’s going improper with the Canadiens.

Montreal Canadiens head coach Claude Julien and the workforce’s bench (Matt Kartozian-USA TODAY Sports activities)

First I’ll check out the final efficiency of the Canadiens to find out the place to dig deeper. For this, I’ll use the VERSUS Device to check the Canadiens’ efficiency relative to the remainder of the NHL.

5-on-5 Play Deterioration

It’s straightforward to see within the graphic under that the Canadiens particular groups efficiency remains to be poor, nevertheless over the past 10 video games (denoted by the yellow strains), a number of the vital underlying numbers on the penalty kill are bettering, notably the scoring probability suppression charges have moved into the highest third of the NHL.

However what’s most regarding is the deterioration of the workforce’s five-on-five play, which has been the spine of its success the previous two seasons.

With out issue, you’ll be able to see the season’s complete (illustrated by the purple bars) for the five-on-five objectives towards efficiency is down effectively under the league common. So, the statistics are matching the attention check; the Canadiens are struggling to maintain the puck out of the web.

Whats extra regarding is the steep slide in efficiency the Canadiens are experiencing throughout five-on-five play. Within the final 10 video games, the workforce ranks 29th in five-on-five objectives towards per 60 minutes. In contrast, within the first 10 video games of the season, the Canadiens ranked 12th general in that statistic. Surely, the five-on-five defensive struggles are the place our investigation ought to focus.

Issues with 5-on-5 Defence

So what’s improper with the five-on-five defence? A fast take a look at the final 10 video games indicators on the VERSUS report above exhibits that the underlying suppression numbers are literally fairly good; higher than the season’s common relative to the league. The Canadiens rank within the prime third of the league at suppressing shot makes an attempt, scoring probabilities and excessive hazard probabilities.

The statistic that stands out is the five-on-five save share. Within the final 10 video games, the workforce’s save share is close to the underside of the NHL at 88.98%.

Information supply: Pure Stat Trick

If we examine the Canadiens’ first 10 video games of the season with the final 10 video games, we will get a good suggestion of the place the primary points are within the workforce’s five-on-five defence play. The speed of excessive hazard probabilities towards is just about unchanged which means the workforce is doing a great job of suppressing these probabilities. However the charge of excessive hazard objectives towards has greater than doubled from 1.02 per 60 minutes to 2.43. The excessive hazard save share has plummeted to 71.43% within the final 10 video games.

Blame Carey Worth

Based mostly on these numbers alone, I believe it’s straightforward to level the finger at Carey Worth. However hockey is a wildly unpredictable and extremely variable sport. We have to dig deeper. Let’s take a look at how Worth is performing relative to his friends.

Anticipated objectives towards is an effective indicator of how a workforce is performing defensively, as a result of it takes into consideration many elements together with the place the go is coming from, shot distance, whether or not it’s a rebound, and angle. The graphic above (minimal of 10 video games performed) exhibits that the Canadiens are an above-average workforce defensively, however Worth is presently offering below-average efficiency. In different phrases, Worth’s goals-against common is larger than what is anticipated based mostly on the workforce’s play in entrance of him.

As we’ve seen in latest video games, there appears to be quite a lot of odd-man rushes and open seams being exploited by the Canadien’s opponents. However as proven within the statistics, general the Canadiens do a great job of suppressing these probabilities. It’s the workforce’s incapability to cease these probabilities from getting into that’s the core downside.

The graphic above exhibits goalies (minimal of 10 video games performed) efficiency in stopping excessive hazard pictures. You possibly can see, that when Worth is within the web, the Canadiens permit excessive risks pictures at a better charge than the league common. What’s worse, is that Worth is just not serving to the workforce as a number of different goalies are doing underneath the identical situations as seen within the Poor Crew Defence / Robust Goaltending quadrant within the graphic.

The Key to Success Is Discovered within the Slot

Based mostly on these numbers, it’s important that the Canadiens get higher goaltending from Worth. However the blame can not absolutely land on Worth alone. The numbers can solely take you thus far; the coaches are, no doubt, inspecting what’s taking place within the slot space – the excessive hazard zone. Clearly the excessive hazard charges towards are too excessive when Worth is within the nets, and people probabilities have to be examined extra intently to know their relative diploma of hazard. In different phrases, the Canadiens need to breakdown every of these excessive hazard probabilities to know tips on how to higher cease them. Are they permitting too many seam passes throughout the slot? Are probabilities generated from behind the purpose line giving the workforce extra issues than they need to?

In contrast to a month in the past, when the penalty kill was the one obvious difficulty, the Canadiens teaching workers has quite a lot of work to do. On the prime of the precedence listing is to work with Worth and the defensive system to repair the difficulty within the excessive hazard zone.

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