Montreal Canadiens Need To Fix Their Player Usage in Overtime

Mar 8, 2021; Vancouver, British Columbia, CAN; Montreal Canadiens Mandatory Credit: Bob Frid-USA TODAY Sports
Mar 8, 2021; Vancouver, British Columbia, CAN; Montreal Canadiens Mandatory Credit: Bob Frid-USA TODAY Sports /

Montreal Canadiens overtime games feel over before they even begin.

Whether they are going to lose on an ugly early goal, or a defensive breakdown leads to the game winner, or they get stymied in the shootout, the result is always the same: they lose.

Seven times the Canadiens have played extra time in a game this season and seven times they have lost that game.

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They are a great team at even strength, they have an improved power play under their new coaching staff, their penalty kill is making strides as well, but their play during 3 on 3 is just atrocious. There have been a few adjustments since Dominique Ducharme took over as head coach, but he mostly trotted out the same players the Claude Julien did with little success.

One of the biggest problems is the Habs have built their defence around big, strong, rugged defensive types. Players like Ben Chiarot, Shea Weber, Joel Edmundson and Brett Kulak are great if you need a shot blocked or a player cleared away from the front of Carey Price’s crease.

Not so great when facing a 2 on 1 in overtime and then quickly trying to move the puck up ice and jump into the rush when there are only a total of six skaters on the ice.

We have seen Chiarot and Weber used repeatedly in overtime with no success. Ducharme finally moved away from this strategy in their most recent overtime loss, but he’s still hanging on to a few things that don’t work.

First of all, he had Danault starting the extra period again. A player that can’t score a goal doesn’t belong on the ice during 3 on 3. Ducharme also refuses to use the team’s second best option among defencemen and that is rookie Alexander Romanov.

The next time the Canadiens head to overtime (let’s hope it’s not for months) we need to see a different approach.

The Canadiens need to start overtime with some skilled players, like Nick Suzuki, Jonathan Drouin and Josh Anderson. Just put the three forwards out there and go full out pond hockey style. What do they have to lose? Another overtime game and fall to 0-8 on the season?

After that line is on the ice, I’d go with Jesperi Kotkaniemi, Tyler Toffoli and Jeff Petry. Then, I’d like to see Brendan Gallagher, Paul Byron and Alexander Romanov. If you can’t go back to the unit that started the period and need a fourth line in overtime, I’d send out Tomas Tatar, Jake Evans and Brett Kulak.

Enough of Danault getting ice time at 3 on 3 when he can’t score. Enough of the big, slow defenders out there watching skilled players skate past them, enough of a young, skilled, fast blue liner like Romanov stuck on the bench.

I hope we don’t see overtime in another Habs game this season, but if we do, Ducharme needs to change up his gameplay and try these lines instead of trying to shut the other team down with Danault and Joel Armia.

Next. Three trades Habs should consider with Sabres. dark

Stop playing not to lose and actually try to win one for once. Who knows, it might actually work.