The Montreal Canadiens are one of the few teams that entered 2017-18 as Stanley Cup contenders, but who have stumbled badly out of the gate. Much like is the case with the Edmonton Oilers, many are wondering if it’s time to panic that the pieces just aren’t there for the Habs.
Much has been made about their defence, which has become a slow unit and now relies on 19-year-old Victor Mete to play north of 20 minutes a night next to Shea Weber against tough competition. But the offence has also sputtered, as the team has scored just 10 goals in seven games and have a power play converting on just 7.69 per cent of its chances.
Jonathan Drouin leads the team with five points and Karl Alzner is the only other on the roster with more than two points so far this season. Given they are converting on a league-worst 3.9 per cent of their shots, the math would suggest more goals are on the way and one player in particular needs to start producing more.
Max Pacioretty, Montreal’s captain and sniper extraordinaire, has just one goal and a minus-3 rating to this point. He’s taken 23 shots which, on a per game basis, is only slightly under his average from last season. But in times of struggle like these, the veteran and the captain is the one who has to lead by example and in the room.
The only problem is Pacioretty himself is frustrated with his play.
“That is the challenge … how am I going to go tell my teammates that we got to be better when I’m the worst one on the ice,” Pacioretty said Friday morning, ahead of Montreal’s game in Anaheim.
After scoring in the opening game of the season, a 3-2 OT win against Buffalo, Pacioretty has been kept off the score sheet and in the six games since the Habs have zero wins and one point.
“I don’t feel I’m strong at all right now,” Pacioretty continued. “I’m worried about my game personally, but numbers-wise I know I help the team by scoring goals and by producing offence and I know it’s not there and I take full responsibility for that every time that that’s the case. But no one’s going to get me or the team out of this other than myself and ourselves.”
Pacioretty has been through goal droughts like this before — he didn’t score in six straight games between Oct. 29 and Nov. 10 last season and was shutout six more games in a row in March. But in both of those cases, the Habs won at least three of those games and Pacioretty registered at least an assist.
The last time Pacioretty went six straight games without a point was 2009-10, his second season in the NHL in which he registered 14 points in 52 games.