What do the Montreal Canadiens have to play for?

MONTREAL, QC - JANUARY 18: Montreal Canadiens goalie Carey Price (31) grabs his helmed during the Las Vegas Golden Knights versus the Montreal Canadiens game on January 18, 2020, at Bell Centre in Montreal, QC (Photo by David Kirouac/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)
MONTREAL, QC - JANUARY 18: Montreal Canadiens goalie Carey Price (31) grabs his helmed during the Las Vegas Golden Knights versus the Montreal Canadiens game on January 18, 2020, at Bell Centre in Montreal, QC (Photo by David Kirouac/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images) /
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Montreal Canadiens
MONTREAL, QC – NOVEMBER 05: Montreal Canadiens (Photo by Minas Panagiotakis/Getty Images) /

The Montreal Canadiens are in an uphill battle that they can choose to partake in or just fall on the sword, but there may be individual fights to engage in.

A team is in a tough spot when they don’t know what they are. Are they a contender, playoff participant, bottom-feeder, or worse, on the bubble? The Montreal Canadiens are in the bottom eight of the league at the moment while also not being too far off to make the rest of the season interesting. Not interesting enough to warrant a ticket to the ride, though.

It makes the title of this article even more weighted. What do the Montreal Canadiens have to play for?

On a team-basis, you could argue nothing. Yes, there is the competitor’s mindset of never giving up, and that’s been something deeply embedded in the culture of the Habs. Even when they’ve gone on their long droughts, the team has been engaged and worked to their best ability despite not getting the results.

This changes when you look at individual performances. On that front, there is a lot to play for from top to bottom.

Coaching

Claude Julien‘s seat has to have some degree of warmth under it as the Montreal Canadiens are set to miss the playoffs for the third season in a row. The only time they cracked it was during the first year of his new tenure as coach. A season remembered for the Habs dominating the Atlantic Division but still firing the head coach.

As I mentioned earlier, the Canadiens haven’t been playing boring hockey. There were a few games where the team lacked structure and gave up, allowing the opposition to run over them. At the same time, Julien has had a lot of injuries on his bench, which have impacted the overall performance of the team in several degrees.

That said, there are available names out there. The pressure on Julien may not be as high as I’ve thought previously, but he does need to keep the team playing whether their getting results or not.

The numbers don’t lie. The Montreal Canadiens are a top-five team in Corsi-For at 5v5 (53.73 – 2nd) and scoring chances for at 5v5 (53.46 – 4th). The team generates a lot of, especially in the slot, but the puck just can’t find a way in. It’s their defensive miscues as well as wobbly goaltending at times, that have cost them games.

Julien needs to continues his track to divert the attention from himself as the worst thing a head coach can give their management is a reason.