Given the stats, the Montreal Canadiens must pursue chaos over structure

NEW YORK, NEW YORK - MARCH 03: Thomas Greiss #1 of the New York Islanders makes the first period stop on Jordan Weal #43 of the Montreal Canadiens at the Barclays Center on March 03, 2020 in the Brooklyn borough of New York City. (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)
NEW YORK, NEW YORK - MARCH 03: Thomas Greiss #1 of the New York Islanders makes the first period stop on Jordan Weal #43 of the Montreal Canadiens at the Barclays Center on March 03, 2020 in the Brooklyn borough of New York City. (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images) /
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Montreal Canadiens
DETROIT, MICHIGAN – JANUARY 07: Montreal Canadiens (Photo by Gregory Shamus/Getty Images) /

Here’s the thing, and let’s go back to the fact that the Habs were on par with the Leafs, Lightning and Capitals generating scoring chances who are third (158), first (162) and fifth in overall goals (156) at 5v5 for this season. Another team that was up there in expected goals-for/60 was the Los Angeles Kings at 2.45. However, they finished 28th in the league in points and had the third-worst goal total at 5v5 with 118.

There’s one clear difference between the Habs and Kings vs. the Leafs, Lightning and Capitals: clear-cut goal-scoring threats. Tatar and Gallagher led with way with 22 goals this season, but the team’s scoring is mostly spread throughout the roster. The Kings were similar with Anze Kopitar having the most at 21 while Alex Iafallo, Dustin Brown and Tyler Toffoli, to name a few spread the wealth. Neither of these teams had any 30-goal scorers, while those other teams had players in the high-20s, the 30s, and even high-40s.

The Montreal Canadiens can’t rely on a conservative style of play. They can’t sit back, defend and defend and wait for an opportunity to strike. And it’s not like the Habs have a lethal powerplay to make teams pay for if they take a penalty (17.7% – 22nd in the league).

It’s a risky method, but channelling more of that chaos could be the more successful plan at hand. It’ll definitely put even more pressure on Carey Price and more strain on the blueline, but it may be the way.

Many are giving MoneyPuck flack for their prediction of the Habs winning over the Penguins; however, their models prioritize things such as flurry-adjusted expected goals. Montreal excels in that area of the game with players who aren’t afraid to crash the net and score off of second, third or even fourth chances. Chaos creates those opportunities.

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I understand Julien’s reluctance to pursue this style of play against Crosby and Evgeni Malkin. At the same time, if Matt Murray is on his game, those flurries may be stopped more often than not. But with a short series, the Montreal Canadiens will have to pull out all the stops. And chaos may be the way to reach it.