Can Canadiens score some ‘greasy goals’ vs. Maple Leafs in Game 5?

Can Canadiens score some 'greasy goals' vs. Maple Leafs in Game 5?
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In trying to stave off elimination in Game 5 against the Maple Leafs on Thursday (6:30 p.m. ET; NBCSN), it’s painfully simple to say that the Canadiens need to score more goals.

After all, you’re not going to win many series where you literally average just a single goal per game.

But, to solve a problem, it’s better to treat the cause, rather than the symptoms. It’s easy to say that the Canadiens need to score more goals vs. the Maple Leafs — in Game 5, but also the rest of the series. But do they know how?

Canadiens-Maple Leafs stream coverage begins at 6:30 p.m. ET on NBCSN. You can watch the game online and on the NBC Sports app by clicking here.

At least one Hab identifies the problem

If nothing else, it seems like Canadiens defenseman Jeff Petry realizes part of the problem. The Habs aren’t really creating the types of chances that tend to convert to goals.

“I think we’ve got to find a way to get to the inside,” Petry said, via NHL.com’s Mike Zeisberger. “A lot of our shots are coming from the outside, and [Campbell’s] sucking up the puck and not allowing rebounds.

“We’ve got to find a way to get in his eyes, get tips, get some sort of greasy goals to get us going.”

Of course, what you’d like to do differs from what you can do. The Penguins would have loved to get more saves against the Islanders. Connor McDavid would love it if the Oilers found a better supporting cast. Actually making that happen is a different beast, but at least Petry recognizes part of the problem.

Can Canadiens score ‘greasy goals’ vs. Maple Leafs?

Still, it’s fair to wonder if that’s an organization-wide edict. Consider who is taking the most shots, and you get a taste of the different scoring recipes for the Canadiens and Maple Leafs.

It’s already noteworthy that Petry, a defenseman, leads the Canadiens in shots on goal with 12. Yet, it’s maybe a bit more troubling that four of the Canadiens’ top 10 players in SOG are defensemen: Petry (12), Shea Weber (nine), Ben Chiarot (six), and Joel Edmundson (six). Meanwhile, only Morgan Rielly (10) and T.J. Brodie (six) rank among the Maple Leafs’ most frequent shooters.

Maybe a visual example would cement that thought. Via Hockey Viz, you can see that the Canadiens simply take a ton of point shots. They create some chances from high-danger areas, mind you, but not as much from the “greasiest” areas:

Now, compare the Canadiens’ shot locations to that of the Maple Leafs in 2020-21:

Sure, it would be unfair to expect the Canadiens to totally match the Maple Leafs’ firepower. But it’s fair to ask if some of the issues are systemic.

It makes something like Shea Weber’s howling shot a double-edged sword. While it can be a dangerous weapon, a slapper from the point generally isn’t as lethal as a shot from the slot. Nonetheless, Canadiens players might defer to Weber. And they might be advised to do so by their coaching staff.

On the bright side, the Canadiens seem to have made at least some efforts to get to those greasy areas, or at least not waste as many point shots vs. the Maple Leafs. Consider this heat map of the series at 5-on-5, via Natural Stat Trick:

Is that perfect? Not necessarily, especially since the bottom line is that defensemen are still generating a big portion of the Habs’ shots on goal.

Running out of time

Instead, it again begs the question of just how capable the Canadiens are of actually consistently creating those “greasy goals.”

Maybe it will boil down to getting a few breaks to open things up?

Even if the Canadiens are guilty of a quantity-over-quality approach, Jack Campbell is unlikely to maintain his .965 save percentage. Josh Anderson’s Game 1 goal wasn’t necessarily the “greasy goal” that Petry was talking about, yet it exhibited some of the qualities Montreal might be looking for.

Anderson mixed his speed with his ability to overpower defenders to score a semi-breakaway beauty (jump to the minute mark):

If the Canadiens could capitalize on (or create) a Maple Leafs mistake or two in Game 5, maybe that would allow them to get comfortable again, and generate goals both greasy and clean? It’s possible, but the Habs are also running out of time.

James O’Brien is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @cyclelikesedins.

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    Bruins set NHL record with 12 straight home wins to start season

    Bob DeChiara-USA TODAY Sports
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    BOSTON — The Boston Bruins set the NHL record for most home victories to start a season with their 12th straight, topping the Carolina Hurricanes 3-2 in overtime with a power-play goal from David Pastrnak.

    The Bruins broke the mark of 11 that was set by the 1963-64 Chicago Blackhawks and equaled by the Florida Panthers last season.

    “That felt awesome,” Bruins first-year coach Jim Montgomery said. “We talked about it after the second (period) going into the third. There’s been a lot of great teams in this league and you’re able to set a precedent, break a record. It’s pretty special and it doesn’t happen if those guys don’t believe in themselves like they do.”

    Boston, which trailed 2-0 late in the second period, tied it with 9:33 left in regulation when David Krejci scored his second of the game on a shot from the right point.

    “It’s never fun being down going into the third, you’re sitting in here (in the locker room) trying to figure it out,” Krejci said. “You want to come out and do the job, something special on the line. It’s hard to win in this league. To get 12 in a row at home is pretty special.”

    In overtime, Carolina was playing shorthanded after being called for too many men on the ice when Pastrnak one-timed a pass from Brad Marchand inside the far post from above the left circle.

    “It was a big win for us, obviously, coming from behind,” Pastrnak said.

    Jesperi Kotkaniemi and Stefan Noesen each scored a power-play goal for Carolina, and Pyotr Kochetkov made 38 saves. The Hurricanes lost their fifth straight.

    In a rematch of last spring’s opening-round playoff series that the Hurricanes won in seven games, Carolina shutout the NHL’s highest scoring team for nearly two periods and jumped ahead a pair of power-play goals in the opening period.

    “We took too many penalties. That’s hurting us right now,” Kotaniemi said. “I think 5-on-5 we’re doing a really good job. We started good tonight and couldn’t keep that up.”

    Boston’s tying goal was originally disallowed because of goaltender interference on Nick Foligno but overturned on a coach’s challenge after it was ruled that he was nudged into the crease by Carolina defenseman Brett Pesce.

    Boston starting goaltender Linus Ullmark made 28 saves but had to leave with 13:03 left in the third period with an undisclosed upper-body injury. Teammate Connor Clifton had jumped on him to block a shot during a scramble. Jeremy Swayman made six stops in relief.

    Carolina’s Noesen scored at 6:34 in to make it 1-0. And with five minutes left in the period, Kotkaniemi collected the puck near the side of the net after Seth Jarvis‘ shot bounced off the back glass and slipped it inside the post at 15:05.

    Krejci scored for Boston with 31 seconds left in the second.

    Boston came in with a league-high 82 goals in 20 games (4.10 per game), but it was held to relatively few chances despite getting a 5-on-3 power-play advantage early on.

    TAKE NOTE

    The Bruins honored captain Patrice Bergeron, who recorded his 1,000th career point when the team was on the road against Tampa Bay, with a message on the Jumbotron. The crowd gave him a standing ovation.

    Bergeron became just the fourth Bruin to reach the mark, joining Hall of Famers Ray Bourque (1,506), Johnny Bucyk (1,339) and Phil Esposito (1,012).

    UP NEXT

    Hurricanes: Host the Calgary Flames.

    Bruins: Host the Tampa Bay Lightning.

    Predators postpone 2 games due to Nashville water main break

    Isaiah J. Downing-USA TODAY Sports
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    NASHVILLE, Tenn. —  The Nashville Predators postponed two home games because of a water main break that soaked their downtown arena.

    Hours after the Predators decided they couldn’t play against the Colorado Avalanche, the team announced it also postponed the game against the Columbus Blue Jackets. Makeup dates for the two games will be announced later.

    The NHL said the water main break that occurred “significantly impacted the event level” of Bridgestone Arena. Team locker rooms and the ice surface are on the event level.

    Predators President and CEO Sean Henry told reporters that the water in the event level ranged from 3 inches to 3 feet.

    “We’re assessing it right now. We’re remediating it,” Henry said. “The good thing is, the water got shut off, the city responded in a pretty fast manner. I don’t think anyone is ready for things like this the Friday after Thanksgiving.”

    Video posted by a WTVF-TV reporter shows the water puddled up on the main floor’s concourse area and the team store. The team was forced to close the store until further notice, pointing shoppers online for Black Friday specials.

    The Predators’ next home game is now scheduled for Tuesday against the Anaheim Ducks.

    The water issue also resulted in a switch to a different venue for a college hockey game between Northeastern and Western Michigan. They also had been scheduled to play at Bridgestone Arena, a game that was moved to Ford Ice Center Bellevue.

    Rangers trade Ryan Reaves to Wild for 5th-round pick in 2025

    Christopher Hanewinckel-USA TODAY Sports
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    ST. PAUL, Minn. — The New York Rangers traded enforcer Ryan Reaves to the Minnesota Wild for a 2025 fifth-round pick.

    Reaves had been a healthy scratch for eight of the past 12 games for the Rangers. He gives struggling Minnesota some extra muscle and a veteran presence.

    The 35-year-old is signed through only the rest of this season at a $1.75 million salary cap hit. He has no points and 12 penalty minutes in 12 games of his second season with New York.

    Reaves has played in 869 NHL regular-season and playoff games for the St. Louis Blues, Pittsburgh Penguins, Vegas Golden Knights and Rangers. He was with the Golden Knights during their inaugural season in 2017-18 when the reached the Stanley Cup Final.

    Toronto’s Morgan Rielly placed on long-term injured reserve

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    TORONTO — The Toronto Maple Leafs placed defenseman Morgan Rielly on long-term injured reserve with a knee injury.

    Rielly was hurt in a collision with with New York forward Kyle Palmieri early in the third period of Toronto’s 3-2 overtime loss to the Islanders at home.

    Rielly has no goals and 16 assists in 20 games this season and is averaging 23 minutes of ice time.

    Leafs coach Sheldon Keefe said following practice that the 28-year-old Rielly doesn’t need surgery, adding there’s no firm timeline for his return beyond the minimum 24 days and 10 games required for going on long-term injured reserve.

    Toronto’s defense is also missing Jake Muzzin with a neck injury and T.J. Brodie with an injured oblique.