The Montreal Canadiens are in real danger of slipping out of the playoffs.
Although the Habs are sitting in sixth place in the Eastern Conference, they haven’t scored since Ryan White slammed home Montreal’s eighth goal in the demolition of the Minnesota Wild last Sunday. Three games have gone by, and the Habs have failed to score in 187 minutes of hockey. This would be a crisis at any point in the season, but this close to playoffs, Montreal’s scoring woes could be classified as a full-on disaster.
The Canadiens have had their share of injuries, but the majority of the names missing from action are from the Habs’ blue-line. Andrei Markov, Josh Gorges and Jaroslav Spacek have been greatly missed, but the only key player missing from the Canadiens’ offense is Max Pacioretty.
Habs captain Brian Gionta leads the team in goals, but he is only ranked 31st in the league with his 26 goals. Gionta is the only Montreal player to surpass 20 goals. Andrei Kostitsyn has stepped up at vital times this season, having struck 19 times.
The big problem for Montreal has been getting Mike Cammalleri going again. The former LA Kings sniper has only scored once in March, and has gone seven games without a goal. Cammalleri has struggled all season, and hasn’t scored more than one goal in a game since Montreal’s season opener against the Pittsburgh Penguins. Last season, Cammalleri was as vital to Montreal’s playoff success as Jaroslav Halak. His 19 points in Montreal’s 19 games made Halak’s spectacular saves worthwhile.
The Canadiens are still seven points ahead of the Carolina Hurricanes, who currently sit in ninth place. However, if the Canes can find a way past Washington tonight and win their game in hand on Montreal the gap will be three points with the Habs facing Carolina on Wednesday.
But it isn’t too late for Montreal. Although they have been caught by the New York Rangers and the Buffalo Sabres, they have enough experience players to turn things around.
Carey Price has been magnificent despite losing his last four games. Tomas Plekanec and Scott Gomez need to step up their game if the Canadiens are to end the season on a high.
Although Gomez isn’t at Montreal for his scoring ability, he was brought in by Jacques Martin for his playmaking. However, the veteran forward has only managed two assists in his last nine games. Gomez’s bad season has left his on minus 16, with only seven goals and 28 assists.
It isn’t all over for Montreal, however. Last season, the Habs lost seven of their last ten games. Although this isn’t something the Canadiens will want to make a habit of, a bad end to the regular season, but this doesn’t mean Montreal’s playoff campaign will be doomed.
One thing is for sure. If the Canadiens can’t start to find the back of the net soon, their season may be cut short.