Have the Habs turned the corner after their slow start?
Stop the presses! The Habs have found the net; Hudon, Lehkonen, Stamkos, Tavares, Barkov and more in Scott Cullen’s Statistically Speaking.
The Montreal Canadiens opened this season with a popgun attack, scoring a dozen goals through their first eight games, during which they posted a 1-6-1 record.
As the hockey world bemoaned Montreal’s inability to score, there were some positive signs, like a team that generated at least 34 shots on goal in seven of those eight games, and while it might not sound like a positive, the fact that the Habs had scored on 3.9% of their shots indicated that goals would come. Why? Because no NHL team shoots like that over the long haul.
That doesn’t mean that Montreal won’t have problems scoring, because some of the underlying issues, including a need for a playmaking centre, still exist, but the Canadiens shouldn’t be historically bad offensively either.
There has been some progress recently. After Monday’s 8-3 win at Ottawa, Montreal has scored 18 times in the past four games, winning three.
Rookie winger Charles Hudon paced the attack in Ottawa with two goals and an assist. Those were Hudon’s first NHL goals, even though he had put 35 shots on goal in his first 11 games this season.
Similarly, Habs winger Arturri Lehkonen potted a pair of goals at Ottawa and they were his first two of the season, even though he had 31 shots on goal through the first 11 games.
This sudden offensive surge had lifted the Canadiens into a tie for 25th in goals per game, at 2.50, and they are shooting 6.6% as a team. It’s still below average, but not historically awful and suddenly moving in the right direction.
In honour of Hudon and Lehkonen getting their first goals of the year, here are the forwards with the most shots on goal without scoring this season (oh, look, there’s still a Hab on top of the list):
SHOT LEADERS, FORWARDS WITHOUT A GOAL THIS SEASON
|Alex Iafallo||Los Angeles||LW||28|
Steven Stamkos – Tampa Bay’s star centre continued his wonderful start to the season, scoring two goals and adding an assist in a 8-5 win at Florida. He has 17 points (5 G, 12 A) in the past eight games and leads the league with 24 points in 13 games.
John Tavares – The Islanders captain remains on a scoring tear, putting in a pair of goals in a 6-3 win over Vegas. He has 12 points (9 G, 3 A) in the past five games.
Aleksander Barkov – In an 8-5 loss to Tampa Bay, the Panthers pivot put up a goal and three assists, giving him 11 points (4 G, 7 A) in the past six games.
Erik Karlsson – Ottawa’s superstar defenceman had a night to forget in an 8-3 loss against Montreal. While he had 50% Corsi during 5-on-5 play, he was on for five goals against at 5-on-5 and, in all situations, was on the ice for one goal for and seven against.
Derek Forbort – The Kings blueliner had 40% possession (15 for, 21 against) at 5-on-5, and was on the ice for four goals against at even strength in a 4-2 loss at St. Louis.
Tyler Bozak – Toronto’s slumping centre failed to register a shot attempt in 12:43 of ice time at San Jose before getting benched in the third period.
Dominic Moore and Matt Martin – Toronto’s fourth liners were caved in at San Jose, both finishing without a single shot attempt for when they were on the ice at 5-on-5. Moore was on for 16 against and Martin was on for 15.
Craig Anderson – Ottawa’s veteran netminder allowed six goals on 15 shots before getting pulled after two periods of an 8-3 loss to Montreal. He has a .865 save percentage in his past five games.
James Reimer – The Florida goaltender gave up five goals on 19 shots in an 8-5 loss to Tampa Bay, and has a .883 save percentage in his past four appearances.
Cam Atkinson – He may not be out for long, but a lower-body injury kept Columbus’ scoring winger out of the lineup against Boston. His absence opened the door for…
Tyler Motte – The hustling winger was called up to Columbus from the AHL, where he had seven points (5 G, 2 A) in seven games, and scored a goal in a 4-3 shootout win vs. Boston. Rookie winger Sonny Milano was a healthy scratch for the Blue Jackets.
Brock Boeser – A bruised foot knocked the Canucks rookie out of the lineup. He’s off to a great start with nine points (2 G, 7 A) in eight games.
Scott Wedgewood – Acquired in a trade with New Jersey, Wedgewood is getting a chance to play in Arizona with Louis Domingue waived and Antti Raanta still hurt. In his first start for the Coyotes, Wedgewood stopped 28 of 31 shots in a 4-3 overtime win at Philadelphia.
Oscar Dansk – The Golden Knights are down another goaltender. Their third-stringer, Dansk, was injured at the Islanders and replaced by Maxim Lagace.
Shayne Gostisbehere – Philadelphia’s puck-moving blueliner suffered an upper-body injury against Toronto, after a hit from behind by Leo Komarov, so Gostisbehere was out of the lineup against Arizona. The Flyers called up Mark Alt to fill the opening on the blueline.
Niklas Hjalmarsson – Arizona’s defenceman earned a couple of assists at Philadelphia, but also suffered an upper-body injury that leaves him day-to-day.
Anthony Duclair – The Coyotes winger was a healthy scratch at Philadelphia, after scoring two goals in the previous three games.
Canadiens D Shea Weber earned three assists in an 8-3 win at Ottawa. He has eight points (3 G, 5 A) in the past seven games…Canadiens RW Brendan Gallagher and C Tomas Plekanec both added a goal and an assist at Ottawa. Gallagher has six points (3 G, 3 A) in the past five games, while Plekanec had one goal in his first 11 games…Senators LW Chris DiDomenico had a goal and an assist in the loss, his second straight two-point game…Senators LW Mike Hoffman added a pair of assists, giving him 11 points (4 G, 7 A) in the past nine games…Golden Knights D Colin Miller and RW Alex Tuch both had a goal and an assist in a 6-3 loss at the Islanders. Miller has seven points (2 G, 5 A) during a five-game point streak, and Tuch has five points (3 G, 2 A) in six games since getting called up from the AHL…Golden Knights D Brad Hunt added two assists, giving him seven assists during a five-game point streak…Coyotes D Alex Goligoski produced a goal and an assist in a 4-3 overtime win at Philadelphia. He has four points (1 G, 3 A) in the past three games…Bruins C Patrice Bergeron produced a goal and an assist in a 4-3 shootout loss at Columbus; he has six points (2 G, 4 A) in five games…Bruins RW David Pastrnak added three assists, giving him 10 points (5 G, 5 A) in the past seven games…Blue Jackets D Markus Nutivaara contributed a pair of assists, giving him three assists in the past four games…Lightning C Yanni Gourde, RW Nikita Kucherov, LW Vladislav Namestnikov, LW Ondrej Palat and C Brayden Point each recorded a goal and an assist in an 8-5 win at Florida. Gourde has five points (2 G, 3 A) in the past five games, Kucherov has 13 points (8 G, 5 A) in the past eight games, Namestnikov has 10 points (3 G, 7 A) in the past 10 games, Palat has five points (1 G, 4 A) in the past five games, and Point has six points (3 G, 3 A) in the past five games…Lightning D Victor Hedman added a couple of assists, and has five assists in the past five games…Panthers LW Jonathan Huberdeau and RW Evgeni Dadonov both contributed a goal and two assists against Tampa Bay. Huberdeau has nine points (2 G, 7 A) during a six-game point streak, while Dadonov is heating up with nine points (5 G, 4 A) in the past five games…Blues LW Jaden Schwartz and RW Vladimir Tarasenko both had a goal and an assist in a 4-2 win against Los Angeles. Schwartz has 10 points (6 G, 4 A) in the past eight games, and Tarasenko has 10 points (3 G, 7 A) in the past nine games…Stars RW Alexander Radulov put up a goal and an assist in a 2-1 overtime win at Vancouver, giving him six points (3 G, 3 A) in the past three games…Sharks D Tim Heed recorded a goal and an assist in a 3-2 win vs. Toronto, and has six points (2 G, 4 A) in the past seven games.
Bruins D Torey Krug scored his second goal of the season and dominated play (23 for, 4 against, 85.2 CF%, 15-3 scoring chances) in a 4-3 shootout loss at Columbus…In limited ice time (9:37 at 5-on-5), Lightning rookie D Mikhail Sergachev had stellar possession stats (18 for, 4 against, 81.8 CF%, 10-2 scoring chances) at Florida…Vancouver’s defence tandem of Derrick Pouliot and Alex Biega had success (10 for, 2 against, 83.3 CF%, 7-1 scoring chances) in a 2-1 overtime loss to Dallas…Sharks LW Timo Meier had a strong possession game (19 for, 4 against, 82.6 CF%, 8-2 scoring chances) in a 3-2 win over Toronto.
Stars G Ben Bishop stopped 38 of 39 shots in a 2-1 overtime win at Vancouver. He had a .877 save percentage in his previous four starts…Maple Leafs G Frederik Andersen turned away 36 of 38 shots in a 3-2 at San Jose. He had a .883 save percentage in his previous eight appearances.
A couple of wingers made their NHL debuts recently (and played their second games Monday).
Chase Balisy – The 25-year-old winger, who played at Western Michigan and has played in the AHL for the past three-plus seasons, loss joined the Panthers lineup after scoring two goals in eight AHL games.
Jack Rodewald – Undrafted out of the Western Hockey League, the 23-year-old right winger has worked his way up from the ECHL and was promoted after scoring four points (3 G, 1 A) in five AHL games his season.
Scott Cullen can be reached at email@example.com