Nothing is going right for the Montreal Canadiens so far this season, but they’re not in panic mode yet.
“No question, the vultures are circling right now,” Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman said during Saturday’s Headlines segment on Hockey Night in Canada. “It’s the biggest story in the league and probably for no good reasons. I think the sense you get just from looking around is the Canadiens are determined not to make any panic moves.”
“As you know at this point in time, GMs they throw anvils at you instead of lifelines, however they are determined not to do anything that they deem a panic move,” Friedman said.
The Canadiens are 1-6-1 through eight games this season, which has them 30th in the league—just above the winless Arizona Coyotes. These numbers are particularly jarring when you compare them to last season’s 7-0-1 start at this time last year.
Despite a record-setting number of shots in the second frame of Friday’s 6-2 loss against the Anaheim Ducks, the Canadiens’ scoring struggles continued. They rank last in goals for (12) and have the most goals against (33).
The Canadiens set a new franchise record for shots in a single period with 30 shots on goal during the middle frame, eclipsing the previous mark of 27. #GoHabsGo
— Canadiens Montréal (@CanadiensMTL) October 21, 2017
Should general manager Marc Bergevin start packing?
“Four of Montreal’s last five GM changes were handed in-season,” Friedman said. “I don’t get the sense … that there’s any desire to remove Bergevin right now. He’s under contract until 2022.”
Sportsnet’s Nick Kypreos agreed.
“As we know, the market in Montreal is a lot different than other markets and a lot of that may be dictated by the fanbase and the media,” Kypreos said. “We do know that when they continue to lose, it gets more critiqued for Bergevin. And it’s just not the ones that are questioning [Shea] Weber for P.K. [Subban], but now you start going down the list a little bit and now all of sudden a meaningless trade at the deadline like Andreas Martinsen for Sven Andrighetto all of a sudden becomes a pretty big story when you see Andrighetto be a pretty important piece to Colorado’s start to the season.”
Andrighetto, who suited up for 27 games in Montreal last season, has three goals and six points in eight games with the Avalanche so far this year.
According to Sportsnet’s Chris Johnston, the key to turning around the season is in the crease.
“They’ve got no choice than to just block out the noise. The only concern for the Canadiens should be Carey Price and getting him where he is,” Johnston said. “They’ve paid this guy $84 million, made him the richest goaltender in the league this summer, and when you see some of these goals, a couple that got by him in the six [Friday] night, it’s uncharacteristic body language from him: looking at a teammate, Karl Alzner, when the sixth goal goes in, breaking his stick across the post.”
Price’s numbers are just as uncharacteristic as his outburst in Anaheim: a 3.95 goals against average and .881 save percentage.
“If you’re betting, he’s not going to stay at an .880 save percentage all year long,” said Johnston. “I know it’s difficult, they’re coming home from a very unsuccessful road trip.”
“It’s not about trades, it’s not about panic,” he said. “It’s about getting Carey Price back to being the best goalie in the world.”