Martin St-Louis’ philosophy is to look at the glass half full. It’s in his nature. With this in mind, the Canadian ranks second in the NHL in goals scored by his defensemen (21). But every coin also has another side.
In the less cheerful category, the CH is 32e and last rank for attacker production. After 28 games, the Habs attackers have only scored 52 goals. Looking backwards, the San Jose Sharks (55 goals) and the Chicago Blackhawks (60) complete the top three.
• Also read: The reason for the problems of the Canadiens attackers is analyzed
At a press conference after a training session lasting around sixty minutes, St-Louis addressed his attackers’ lack of finishing ability. In his eyes, there is a fairly simple solution: go “inward.”
“We have to play a little more inside, there is too much on the edge,” replied St-Louis. I like the time we spend in the offensive zone, but we should be able to score more goals.
St-Louis’ message is therefore to rush towards the net, retrieve the ball, redirect pucks, block the goalie’s view and cause confusion. But it doesn’t happen by magic. It also takes determination.
In addition to Brendan Gallagher, who always has his nose in traffic, there are also some players who don’t like this role as much.
“It’s not that easy to convince them, but we have to continue to convince them to go deeper,” St-Louis admitted. It’s not about being in there with the puck, it’s about anticipating when it’s going to happen. And it’s not about getting there early and staying there, but about leaving when it’s time. The teams that are dangerous manage to anticipate well and move inwards with rhythm. You can collect pucks and touch others in an instant. Skilled players like to stay out there with the puck. But the game is also played without the puck and you have to go inside to score.”
Nick Suzuki is tied for the lead with eight goals with Sean Monahan and spoke at length about the St. Louis message.
“We know we have to go in,” Suzuki said. It was a big part of the exercises in training. You have to have players in the slot, redirect pucks and generate more offense.”
Suzuki wasn’t surprised when he was reminded that his team was last in the NHL in goals scored by forwards.
“I’m not too worried about it,” he said. There are times when strikers can struggle to score goals. Several of our attackers have been through droughts. There is no shortage of options. It’s nice to see our defenders scoring goals, but we attackers also have to help.”
There are deficiencies, but there is also a lack of raw talent on offense. With injuries to Kirby Dach and Alex Newhook, the Habs have the feel of a team that doesn’t have a second line. And there is no superstar who carries the offense on his shoulders.
A statistical anomaly
On paper, CH is one of three teams in the tournament without a scorer of 10 or more goals.
In theory, Caufield should be the offensive engine. But he only scored seven goals in 28 games. Out of 104 shots, he only hit the target seven times, which corresponds to a success rate of 6.7%. The No. 22 is well below his average of 16.8% last year (26 goals in 158 shots) and 12.2% two years ago (23 goals in 188 shots).
“For me it’s an anomaly with Cole, it will even out at some point,” noted Suzuki. A player always returns to his average. He will shoot at an opposing defender to score a goal, or he will attempt a pass and score. Cole remains a natural goalscorer. I’m not worried about him, he just needs to keep a positive attitude.”
Avid beer trailblazer. Friendly student. Tv geek. Coffee junkie. Total writer. Hipster-friendly internet practitioner. Pop culture fanatic.