There are, in my estimation, two ways to go about winning a hockey game. You can either score more goals than your opponent, or you can allow fewer.
The Montreal Canadiens have struggled with this at times through the first 10 games, most notably against Nashville where they ruined a brilliant performance by Carey Price in a 2-1 loss.
Still, 6-4 through 10 is nothing to scoff at. And yet, there’s trouble ahead for Montreal.
Max Pacioretty’s injury, three weeks with a hamstring strain, is a problem. A big problem. A 6’2, 217 lbs problem.
Pacioretty is the forward that allows Habs fans to roll their eyes when commentators, pundits, other fans and anyone with a basic grasp of size calls our team “small”. Pacioretty is a big, strong, talented power forward – the type of player every team wants and the farthest thing from “small” there is.
But without him in the line-up, the Habs are small. And not just small, but minus the 35 or so goals a healthy Pacioretty should score over a full season.
To make matters worse, the team is also without the underrated (if he can stay out of the box) Brendon Prust, as well as the grossly overrated Daniel “I’m sure my talent will show up eventually” Briere.
While there’s still plenty of talent, the injuries make it even more obvious as to who the Habs’ top line is.
And opposing coaches are noticing.
The EGG line drew Seth Jones and Shea Weber all night against Nashville and continue to draw the top defensive pairings night in night out. While the respect is nice, the guys are still young and it has forced the team to be in desperate need of secondary scoring.
Tough when the guy who should be your top goal man is out and the offense from the likes of Plekanec, Gionta and Borque comes and goes. Someone is going to have to step up and fill the Max Pacioretty shaped hole in the offence, or the Habs could find themselves out of the race over the next few weeks.
With 12 points we sit fourth in the toughest division in hockey, behind Boston, Detroit and Toronto, and sixth in the conference.
The burden is very much going to fall, as it always does, on the shoulders of Carey Price, who’s 5-4 record comes nowhere near to telling the story of his season so far (.936%, 2.13GAA). As well as on PK Subban to continue to produce from the back end (2G, 9A).
Montreal Canadiens take on the red hot San Jose Sharks (8-1-1) tonight at the Bell Centre (7:00PM)