So the Habs lost yesterday to the Ottawa Senators in the first round of the Stanley Cup playoffs.
I plan on doing another post next week about what the Habs need to do in the offseason.
But for now, we should look at what happened? Why did the Habs lose?
The goaltending? Outcoached? Lack of toughness?
No, it all comes down to one thing: Going to the net. Simple, but that’s the problem.
Look at the goals scored by the Ottawa Senators in any game. They weren’t scoring on bombs from the point, or one-timers. They were going to the net, creating havoc and getting the bounces. But the bounces were coming for the Sens because guys were in position.
Look at game 4 of the series. The Habs were up 2-0 midway through the third. Mika Zibanejad went to the net, the puck went off his skate and into the net. Some say it was kicked in. It doesn’t matter. The point is, Zibanejad put himself into position to score. The game-tying goal? Cory Conacher going to the net.
Look at last night’s game. The Sens were heading to the net all game. Zack Smith and Conacher each scored in this manner. But the goal that sealed it was the shorthanded one by the Kyle Turris. After that goal, the Habs lost all emotion and fight. But how did Turris score? On a shorthanded 2-on-1, he went to the net. Plekanec pushed Turris into Budaj, and the puck went off Turris and into the net.
If Turris didn’t make a beeline for the net, that never would have happened.
Now think of the other side. Can you think of a goal the Habs scored the same way? No. They were trying to score from the point with no one screening Anderson. The Habs goal last night was by P.K. Subban on a shot from the point. That was it. In Game 3, it was Rene Bourque scoring on a fluke goal from the slot that Anderson should have had. Even in Game 4, Subban’s and Galchenyuk’s goals were shots, but no one was going toward the net.
It was the biggest difference in the series. As mentioned, Ottawa got the bounces because they worked for them. How many times did we see a Montreal player throw it to the net, and have the puck bounce off Anderson and no one there for the rebound? Way too many.
The Habs are in need of players who are willing to do this. Sure, Prust and Moen may do it, but they’re not goal scorers. The Habs need guys who can screen the goal and make life difficult for the other team’s goalie.
If not, it will be hard to win any playoff series in the future.