His return will hopefully spark an inconsistent Habs offense. In between five goal outburts against both Winnipeg and Colorado, Montreal has only managed two goals in its other three contests.
Pittsburgh will certainly be weary of his return. The Richmond Hill native has four goals and four assists in his last ten contests versus the Penguins.
The Importance of Scoring Early
One of the main reasons for Montreal's lack of success so far has to do with their inability to capitalize on their early chances. They could have rapidly built significant leads against both Toronto and Buffalo, but failed to do so.
As a result, both teams eventually found a way to fight their way into the game and take two points away from the Canadiens. This trend will need to change in a hurry or else Montreal may quickly find itself out of playoff contention.
- Last year, teams who scored first were 844-233-149.
- Teams leading after the first period also combined for a 604-123-79 record last season.
- Beyond the rather damning statistics above, failing to score early affords the opposition goaltender the chance to build his confidence and gives time for the rest of the opposition team to find its legs.
- Failing to score on early, high-quality chances also dents the confidence of Montreal's shooters. Tomas Plekanec must have been rather frustrated after missing that gaping net against Buffalo.
- How often do we see a team come out flat in the first period and then, after their coach rips them in the intermission, come out blazing in the middle frame? I'm sure Ron Wilson and Lindy Ruff were happy campers.
- Speaking of the importance of early starts, according to Eklund, only 15% of teams out of the playoffs on Halloween make it to the big dance. And, perhaps even more worthy of note, Elliotte Friedman pointed out that, since the lockout, only 7% of teams who were more than three points out of the playoffs on November 1st recovered to make the playoffs.
Montreal sit 13th right now.
Louis is an Associate Editor at HabsAddict.com and an Editor at HabsWorld.net. Louis was born in Chicago but grew up in Quebec City where he earned Bachelor's Degree in Business Administration from Université Laval. He currently lives in Ottawa and works for the Coaching Association of Canada. He can be reached at email@example.com.
(Photo by Jamie Sabau/Getty Images North America)