Adding Offense Through the Habs Power-play

(Photo by Al Bello/Getty Images)

by Michael Ham-Fan, Staff Writer, All Habs Hockey Magazine

(Photo by Al Bello/Getty Images)
(Photo by Al Bello/Getty Images)


MONTREAL, QC. — The Montreal Canadiens are having trouble scoring lately with only five goals in their last five games (excluding empty-netters.) Despite placing second in the NHL standings, the Habs have only scored 177 goals, ranking 23rd in the league.  In goals scored, Montreal ranks right with non-playoff teams.  It is safe to say that Carey Price has been the biggest reason that his team is near the top of the standings in points.

To be able to compete against the best teams in the playoffs, it is no secret that the Canadiens will have to score more goals. Admittedly, the team does not have a lot of elite goal-scoring talent — Max Pacioretty is leading the team with 31 goals. The Habs are a team that needs opportunistic scoring to win games, and the best opportunity to score in a game is often on the power-play. Montreal has only 31 power-play goals in 190 opportunities this year and that is the 4th-worst power-play record in the league.

For the past few years, the Canadiens were known to have solid goaltending but they were also known to be a threat on the power-play. They have lost part of their identity.

In the last decade, the Habs power-play has ranked five times in the top-5 in the league, and six times in the top-10. The only seasons they were out of the top-10 were in 2008-2009 (13th), in 2011-2012 (28th; the Randy Cunneyworth saga), in 2013-2014 (19th) and this current season (24th).

For years, the Canadiens simply didn’t have enough offensive talent to be consistent when playing at even strength. So, they had to rely on their power-play opportunities. From 2006 to 2008, the Habs scored 176 goals on the power-play in two seasons. Teams were almost afraid to take a penalty against the Canadiens. Granted it wasn’t the same players as the current team at all, but the current Canadiens are also a hard-working team that lacks elite offensive power. This same team was ranked fifth on the power-play in the shortened lockout season, two years ago, with the same coach and many of the current players.

The Habs need to find that aspect of the game back because it is their only chance to produce more offense this season and theses upcoming playoffs. I, personally, think that it is partly a confidence issue, and partly a personnel issue.

Mainly, it seems that the Habs have lost that belief that they can score on the power-play. They seem to try to same plays over and over again and no one is really moving their feet, except for P.K. Subban. It seems like, at this point, none of our players are really good at working the power-play, but that is not true. There is a lot of talent on this team; they just have to build back some confidence.

On the personnel side, Montreal is, indeed, lacking in players that are used to playing a pure offensive style. They have a lot of hard-working players who can skate and create offense off the rush, but when everyone is standing still, they do not have enough creativity to create space, again, aside from P.K. Subban, who is being marked by the opposing team’s penalty-kill. Then there are players like Alex Galchenyuk and Lars Eller who have shown glimpses of great play-making and puck control but they somehow don’t seem to have it consistently on the power-play, coming back to the confidence issues.

I think the first step would be to put Pierre-Alexandre Parenteau back in the lineup and on the power-play. I admit that he is not the fastest player, and that he is not the most hard-working player. I can see why he does not fit in the team philosophy, but the fact is, we need offense and he has stuck in the league, despite his flaws, because of what he can bring to the offensive zone.

P.A. Parenteau has averaged 0.75 points per game in his previous four seasons before joining the Habs, and on top of that, he has 55 power-play points in that time span. I’m not saying that he will solve all of their problems but even if he doesn’t produce at that pace, the Habs power-play is currently at a 16 per cent success rate.  Most probably, he won’t make it worse.

Solving the power-play will probably not solve our scoring woes permanently.  But a mere hot streak for the power-play may increase our scoring just enough for Price to hold the lead given his spectacular season.

In a long-term perspective, I do think that the Canadiens should be looking at adding offense in the off-season and that Marc Bergevin should give a chance to offensive prospect Charles Hudon, who, as a rookie, is now sixth in points in the American Hockey League. But, in order to integrate another small forward, some changes will have to be made…but that is another story for another day.

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Michael Ham-Fan
Lien vers mes articles en français : -------------------Michael is a Staff Writer for All Habs Magazine. He completed a bachelor's degree in Psychology at the Université de Montréal and is now doing his Masters' degree at the Université de Sherbrooke in Clinical Sciences. Michael has been a hockey fan and a Habs fans pretty much all his life, so for the last two decades and a half. He was born in Montreal to a Chinese mother and a Honduran-Chinese father, so he is fluent in French, English and Cantonese. He understands Spanish and Mandarin but not enough to speak it. His objective in writing is to give information and to give his opinion. At no point will he try to act as an expert on the subject. Michael is humbled to be able to write on hockey and that has always been a dream for him. He attends a lot of hockey games and practices during the year (Habs, Juniors etc.) and when he is not at the game, he is watching them at home, so he will base his opinion a lot on what he has actually seen rather than what he has heard. ----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------- Michael est un chroniqueur pour Le Magazine All Habs. Il a complété un baccalauréat spécialisé en Psychologie à l'Université de Montréal et il est maintenant, à sa première année en maîtrise en Sciences Cliniques à l'Université de Sherbrooke. Michael a été un amateur de hockey et un partisan des Canadiens depuis les vingt-cinq dernières années. Il parle quotidiennement en français, en anglais et en cantonais. Il comprend aussi l'espagnol et le mandarin sans être très fluide. Michael a appris que la modestie et le respect étaient deux valeurs nécessaires dans la vie. Son approche pour écrire des articles est de donner son opinion basée sur de l'information concrète. Son but n'est surtout pas de se prendre pour un expert. Il assiste très souvent à des matchs de hockey (Canadiens, Juniors, etc.) et lorsqu'il n'est pas dans les estrades, il les regarde chez lui. Donc, son opinion sera basée sur ce qu'il aura vu, plus que ce qu'il aurait entendu. Donc, ses articles ne seront jamais écrits sous le point de vue d'un expert, mais bien celui d'un amateur qui veut susciter la discussion avec ses pairs.