What Went Wrong: The Montreal Canadiens
This is a continuing series that will explore why the various teams that fall by the wayside did exactly that.
To hear it from most of the media and a lot of hockey fans, Ottawa is an offensive juggernaut that steamrolled through Montreal much like they’re going to steamroll through the rest of the Eastern Conference. More accurately they’re a pretty good team that got healthy at the right time while Montreal was busy getting unhealthy at the wrong time.
Montreal coasted through the season on Ottawa’s bad injury luck and Boston’s complete inability to close out games. Each of the four Northeast Division teams did and did not deserve to win the division for various reasons. Montreal just happened to be the team standing there when the dust settled.
Their balanced attack was disrupted by injuries to Lars Eller and Brian Gionta, and Carey Price going down put the final nail in the coffin. But blaming injuries would do a disservice to Ottawa. In the end, Craig Anderson outplayed all comers, and Ottawa’s depth scoring showed up while Montreal’s did not. Ottawa saw twelve different players notch goals while Montreal only saw six, notably absent Max Pacioretty, Tomas Plekanec, and David Desharnais.
Likewise, Ottawa’s special teams showed up, their power play clicking at a 24.0% pace, more than making up for being out shot in four of the five games. Their troubling possession play aside, Ottawa sits right now as the best looking team in the east.