The Montreal Canadiens, as an entire team, have been mired in a brutal scoring slump to begin the season.
The result has been a seven-game losing streak that, believe it or not, took an even uglier turn last week when the Habs were swept in embarrassing fashion on a three-game trip through California.
Among the players continuing to have difficulties producing is Alex Galchenyuk, who has one goal in eight games, produced one shot on goal in more than 18 minutes versus the Anaheim Ducks last week and only 14 shots on the season, and practiced on the fourth line with Michael McCarron and Nikita Scherbak ahead of tomorrow’s home game with the Florida Panthers.
This isn’t the first time this season that head coach Claude Julien has skated Galchenyuk on the fourth line. He offered a rather simple explanation on Monday, after situating a 30-goal scorer from only two years ago — and a player signed to a three-year, $14.7 million contract extension this summer — now situated in the bottom six of a lineup that is dead last in the league in scoring.
“Right now, I don’t think Alex has given us enough to … continue playing on our top line for the time being,” said Julien. “We certainly need more. At the same time, hopefully those guys I put him with are going to make him work and hopefully get better. At one point you’ve got to do something as a coach to get players that maybe deserve to be up, such as (Paul Byron) — he needs to be up there because he’s playing well, he’s scoring goals. You reward people that deserve it and at the same time, other guys have got to give you more.”
The aforementioned Byron, who skated Monday on the top line, Jonathan Drouin and Brendan Gallagher are currently tied for the team lead in goals — with two each. That’s through eight games. Yes, it’s bad. Max Pacioretty, a five-time 30-goal scorer, has just one so far, and he’s been candid about his complete lack of production so far.
“That is the challenge … how am I going to go tell my teammates that we got to be better when I’m the worst one on the ice,” he said last week, per Sportsnet.
There are individual players, specifically Alex Ovechkin and Nikita Kucherov each with 10, who have scored almost as many goals as the Habs as an entire team. And after such a disastrous start, the heat is now on general manager Marc Bergevin for some of his moves in recent years, and for him to try to turn it around by perhaps pulling off a trade to upgrade their offensive attack.
Cam Tucker is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at firstname.lastname@example.org or follow him on Twitter @CamTucker_Sport.