The Montreal Canadiens look to be a different team this season than they were last season. In fact, if they’re to have success, they have to be.
How Can a Great Road Power-Play Unit Be so Bad at Home?
One specific area the team really needs to improve is on their power play – but only half of it. What I mean by that is that the funny thing is that the power play was darn good on the road. Oddly however, the power play fell apart at home – it was horrible.
Specifically, the difference between playing on the road and playing at home was striking. How striking? Let the numbers speak for themselves. The Canadiens’ success rate for its power-play proficiency at home at the Bell Centre was a meagre 12.4 percent. That made the team dead last in the NHL in terms of power-play success on home ice.
On the road, it was a different story. The team’s power-play success rate was almost exactly twice as proficient. On the road, the Canadiens ranked third in the entire NHL with a percentage of 24.7%. Odd, right?
Kirk Muller Thinks It’s a Mental Thing
Associate coach Kirk Muller thinks that such a big difference between a team’s home and road power-play success can only be attributed to an issue that is probably mental.
He noted the team’s desire was simple, “We have to find a way to get the guys to do the same things at home that they do on the road.” (from “Canadiens’ power play needs swagger on home ice, Kirk Muller says,” Pat Hickey, Montreal Gazette, 26/11/20).
Specifically Muller noted, “We just seem to be more relaxed on the road. It’s the same philosophy, the same plays, but we seem to tighten up a little bit at home. You’ve seen over the years that Montreal has always been a tough place for the teams to come in and play, and we have to get that swagger back. We have great fans, passionate fans, and we have to use that to our advantage.”
Given the Changes in Team Composition, Might This Not Even Be a Problem?
The funniest thing is that last season and this season might be so completely different for the team. The Canadiens brought in two new bodies that add a different dimension to the team’s power-play focus. Specifically, Muller – who’s in charge of coaching the team’s power play – believes newcomers Josh Anderson and Tyler Toffoli each will add a new dimension to the power play.
Anderson was brought in from the Columbus Blue Jackets in a trade for Max Domi and a 2020 third-round draft selection (which was the 77th overall draft pick). Toffoli was signed at a RFA from the Vancouver Canucks.
Mueller noted, “Anderson and Toffoli have great hands. I’ve looked at their clips from their previous teams and they’re adaptable. They can play on the half-wall or they can fit in the middle, provide a goal line-type presence. They’ve had some success in those areas and that will help us because we have some good guys on the perimeter like (Jeff Petry) that can establish shots, but these are guys that are willing to play inside and make plays in tight areas.”
Mueller went on the compare Anderson’s and Toffoli’s potential to the play of the Edmonton Oilers power-play unit. He noted that, “If you look at the Edmonton Oilers, who have the No. 1 power play, if you look at their goals, they’re not from one-dimensional shots from the outside.”
Muller noted that, with the Oilers “It’s guys playing inside, making close plays.” He then noted that Toffoli and Anderson “give us that element.”
Is This the Season the Power Play Unit Becomes More Proficient?
Obviously, because Muller’s job is to build a successful power-play unit, he needs to be thinking about how to improve it all the time. His first goal, as he admits, will be to fix the weaknesses about why and how the Canadiens’ power play struggled at home last season. That said, this coming season will likely be different in a number of crucial ways.
Specifically, no one knows right now whether teams will even be playing on their home ice. Although I doubt it, it might be that teams will be playing in “hub cities.” Or, even if teams play at home, it’s not likely there’ll be fans in the stands. These differences are huge. In some ways, other than the dressing rooms, what would the difference between playing at home and on the road?
What we do know is that the Canadiens will have two new weapons that promise to help reshape a moribund home-ice power play. Those weapons are Toffoli and Anderson. Even better, both probably come into Bell Centre quite ignorant of all the Canadiens’ power-play trouble on home ice.
Canadiens’ fans have to hope they remain ignorant of such problems.
/ 3 hours ago
Evander Kane says he never bet on NHL games and believes he'll be exonerated...
/ 7 hours ago
Admittedly, Duncan Keith looks good in an Edmonton Oilers uniform. While it’s still a...
/ 1 day ago
There were whispers things weren’t looking good for Edmonton Oilers’ prospect Dylan Holloway when...
/ 1 day ago
Neither injury has been deemed serious, but the Maple Leafs lost both Justin Holl...
/ 2 days ago
Tyler Bozak has worked out a deal with the St. Louis Blues to stick...
/ 4 days ago
If Jack Eichel isn't traded, the player could run into issues if/when he fails...
/ 6 days ago
Zach Parise is officially a member of the New York Islanders and talked his...
/ 1 week ago
Owner of the Carolina Hurricanes, Tom Dundon, spoke about tendering an offer sheet to...
/ 1 week ago
The Montreal Canadiens scrambled to find multiple options before they landed on Christian Dvorak....
/ 2 weeks ago
The Montreal Canadiens didn't match the offer sheet for Jesperi Kotkaniemi and then traded...