Is the Montreal Canadiens blue line good enough for the playoffs?

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Montreal Canadiens

GLENDALE, ARIZONA – DECEMBER 20: Montreal Canadiens (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)

This weeks roundtable we discuss the Montreal Canadiens power play, who to look out for at the World Juniors, and whether the defence is good enough.

1) The Montreal Canadiens finally scored a power play goal against the Colorado Avalanche but missed on three other opportunities. What’s the problem with it?

Sebastian: I breathed a sigh of relief along with the entire city when the goal light went off on the power play against the Avalanche. However, we only have 12.4% scoring rate on the power play this year (not including the game against Arizona – now it’s 12.9%). While we possess quality players that in theory should excel with a man advantage, it is simply not working. There are undoubtedly countless factors involved in the success of the power play. However, I believe that two are really hurting the efficiency of ours.

Firstly, we have simply not been cycling the puck well. It always seems slow and sluggish, just pay attention to that the next time you watch our power play. The teams that are deadly with an extra man are all excellent at distributing the puck from one player to another unpredictably, which opens up shooting lanes. Our power play is always centred on Weber’s or Petry’s shot, and the defence knows it. This makes it easy for defenders to jump a pass route, leading to a clearance or a counter-attack. The Habs have to spread out the shots and the dangerous opportunities in order to ever get a decent chance of scoring.

Secondly, our zone entries are really quite terrible. It is usually up to Jonathan Drouin to creatively pass the opponent’s blue line, which he does elegantly and fairly effectively. However, the downfall of the zone entry comes right after he passes the blue line. The defenders close in on him, and nobody is open for a pass. The possession is then lost, and we have to start all over again. I have seen this exact scenario play out a few dozen times in the past month or so, and it is infuriating to watch, because Drouin does so well but has no support at all, and the outcome is almost always the same.

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