Montreal Canadiens: Are This Year’s Habs The Worst Team of The Salary Cap Era?

Jan 17, 2022; Glendale, Arizona, USA; Montreal Canadiens goaltender Sam Montembeault. Mandatory Credit: Joe Camporeale-USA TODAY Sports
Jan 17, 2022; Glendale, Arizona, USA; Montreal Canadiens goaltender Sam Montembeault. Mandatory Credit: Joe Camporeale-USA TODAY Sports /

The Montreal Canadiens made a surprising run to the Stanley Cup Final in 2021, but the 2021-22 version of the team is the worst team in the National Hockey League.

The Habs entered the season with promise, having come off a lengthy playoff run, but they didn’t look ready to begin the season. Five consecutive losses to begin the year have been followed by more and more losses as the season goes along.

The team hit the midway point of their schedule with one of their worst efforts of the season.

The Canadiens were completing a road trip on Monday night in Minnesota and were thoroughly outplayed by the Wild. By the time the final buzzer sounded, the Wild had walked away with an 8-2 victory, having embarrassed not one, but two young goaltenders in the Canadiens crease along the way.

Cayden Primeau allowed five goals in two periods and Michael McNiven came in to make his NHL debut and was beat three times on seven shots.

It wasn’t the fault of the goaltenders as the players skating in front of them have put forth many embarrassing efforts this season.

So bad on so many nights, in fact, that they could be the worst team we have seen since the salary cap was introduced.

The Canadiens record at the midpoint of the season is 8-26-7 which puts them on pace for a 46 point season. Not only that, they are last in the league in goals scored per game. Tied for last in goals allowed per game. 31st out of 32 teams on the power play and 30th on the penalty kill.

They are the worst team in the league and their only real competition for that dubious distinction is the Arizona Coyotes. The Coyotes have played the same number of games and are just one point ahead of the Habs. But they are ahead and that means the Canadiens are the worst team in the league.

This is the worst version of the Canadiens we have ever seen. They are far from the worst team to ever compete at the NHL level. That moniker belongs to the expansion Washington Capitals from 1974-75 who finished their inaugural season with a 8-67-5 record.

The Canadiens already have 8 wins, so they aren’t the worst team ever, but they just might be the worst team hockey has seen since the salary cap was introduced in 2005.

The St. Louis Blues were the worst team in 2005-06, going 21-46-15 and finishing the year with 57 points. The Philadelphia Flyers had just 56 points the following season. For nearly a decade, that Flyers team and its .341 points percentage was the worst in the NHL’s cap era. That is, until the Buffalo Sabres tried to get Connor McDavid. The 2013-14 and 2014-15 Sabres were horrendous. They finished with 52 and then 54 points, but even those teams were better than the current Canadiens right now.

The Canadiens have a .280 points percentage at the midway point of the season. They are on pace for 46 points. The worst team we have seen in the salary cap era over a full 82 game season is the 2016-17 Colorado Avalanche who finished the season 22-56-4. That is a total of 48 points which means their .293 points percentage was higher than the Habs right now. Also, they had 22 win and didn’t bank on overtime and shootout losses to add points.

The Canadiens only won 8 games in the first half of the season. They are on pace for 16.

The only team that had a worse season than the Canadiens current one since 2005 was the 2019-20 Detroit Red Wings. That season ended early because of the global pandemic, but the Red Wings played 71 games, going 17-49-5. They had a .275 points percentage which put them on pace for 45 points. That is one less than the Habs are on pace for right now.

Of course, the Canadiens do still have 41 games left to play to change their direction. But they will also likely trade away several key veterans before the trade deadline. You still have to think they are a better team than they have shown, but it has been 41 games and they have just 23 points.

If they are any worse at all in the second half, they will finish with 45 points or less and be the worst NHL team of the salary cap era.