Chicago Blackhawks Eye on the Enemy: A Winning Habit (Montreal)

MONTREAL, QC - OCTOBER 10: Andrew Shaw
MONTREAL, QC - OCTOBER 10: Andrew Shaw /
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MONTREAL, QC – OCTOBER 14: Jonathan Drouin
MONTREAL, QC – OCTOBER 14: Jonathan Drouin /

Five Questions with Omar White of A Winning Habit

The Canadiens are currently 4-7-1, but have also won three of their last four games.  What were the reasons for the slow start, and how have they been able to turn things around?

OW:  You have to attribute the poor start to bad luck and sloppy play.  For the majority of the games, the Habs have been the better team and have gotten their chances.  They just haven’t been able to capitalize.

At the same time, they give up a lot of goals.  With the exception of Victor Mete and Shea Weber, the rest of blue line has been a defensive liability, which has made Carey Price’s job a lot harder.  You can’t absolve him, though.  Price is giving up very uncharacteristic goals, but a shaky blue line doesn’t help either.

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  • Fast forward to the present, the lineup changes that Claude Julien made have been working. Each line has a true offensive threat and the team is starting to jell, which couldn’t be said earlier.  If you’re a fan of the fancy stats, the Habs had a PDO of about 91 before.  Combine that with a shooting percentage of 3 and that screams, “It’s just bad luck.” The dam was going to break eventually.

    The Canadiens’ powerplay percentage is in the bottom half of the league, executing on just 13 percent of opportunities.  Talk about what they need to do better to improve.

    OW:  The majority of the Habs’ powerplay goals have been from heading to or being around the net.  Of course, Shea Weber has been able to blast a pair of them, but it’s been a lot of hard forechecking that has worked in the team’s benefit.  The top pair has to get going a little more. Whether it’s getting pucks to the net or making more quick passes, something has to give there.

    The Habs pulled off a big trade this summer, sending top prospect Mikhail Sergachev to Tampa Bay for Jonathan Drouin.  How is Drouin fitting in thus far?

    OW:  Jonathan Drouin has been fantastic.  A lot of people were worried on how he could fare as a center, but it’s worked out in the Habs’ favor.

    It’s not a surprise to check the stats and see that he’s among the team leaders in points.  What’s been impressive is his play away from the puck. Drouin is rarely caught out of position and has made a lot of plays going the other way to stop scoring chances.

    His main area of improvement is in the faceoff circle. Drouin is at 43.6 percent, which included a 18 percent performance against the Leafs.  I know the thoughts on faceoffs have been up and down, but in a league where puck possession has been a priority, winning that draw is essential. Besides that, yes, he’s been good *thumbs up*.

    It’s been a couple years since Andrew Shaw left the Blackhawks.  Talk about his game the last couple years and what he’s meant to the Canadiens.

    OW:  Shaw has been a fan favorite of the team since even before his first regular-season game. However, he’s filled the role of being the high-energy depth player that isn’t afraid to throw his weight around.

    As of late he’s spent time on the top powerplay unit ,which has frustrated some fans.  However, he’s been excellent on the draws which has been great to start the man-advantage.  It would be nice to get a little more from Shaw offensively, but the points will come in due time.

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    What’s your prediction for Sunday’s game?

    OW:  How dare you ask such a question.  Things didn’t turn out to well the last time the Habs took on the Blackhawks.  Additionally it’ll be on the second half of a back-to-back.  It’s a coin flip, but the Habs will need to play a secure game to have a chance to defeat the power of the Chelsea Dagger.

    You can follow Omar’s blog A Winning Habit here and follow him on twitter at @OLW93.