Winless (and scoreless) in their last three games, the Canadiens will be looking for a much needed win at home tonight when they face the Atlanta Thrashers.
The bleu-blanc-rouge started the month of March on a high note; a four game winning streak that saw them defeat Atlanta, Florida, Tampa Bay and Boston. Nearing the end of the month though, it is a completely different story.
They have now fallen seven points behind Boston, who has a game in hand.
After crushing the Minnesota Wild 8-1 the Habs went on to lose their next three games, being outscored 11-0, including an embarrassing 7-0 blowout to the Boston Bruins.
Who is to blame for this?
It is impossible to point a finger at any one player in general. The forwards aren’t scoring, the defencemen aren’t defending. Carey Price continues to stand on his head in net but the team in front of him is not producing results.
A few months ago I posted a blog where I mentioned an interesting stat about Scott Gomez and the correlation between his time on the ice and the result of the game.
When Gomez has more than 18:40 minutes of ice time the Canadiens almost always end up losing.
At the time the Habs were 1-6-0 when he played more than 18:40 and 12-1-1 when he played less.
While studying the way the month of March has unfolded I’ve come to realize that this stat still holds true.
When Gomez has played more than 18:40 in the month of March the Habs are 2-6-0. When he has played less than that they are 5-0-0.
I’m not going to say Gomez is the one to completely blame for this. It’s not like he decides his own ice time.
The problem with Gomez is he is a defensive liability (hence why he is -16 on the season). His style is very offensive; he does not have a strong defensive mind set. However, with only seven goals to his name his offensive talent is being completely discredited.
When the Canadiens are down Gomez gets more ice time and the fourth line sits more solely based on this fact that he should be producing goals. This is why the ending result is a loss when he plays more. He just isn’t scoring.
When the Habs are leading Gomez sees the bench more because he is a defensive liability and he’s not needed on the ice. This is why the ending result is a win when he plays less. He isn’t on the ice to get scored on.
As I mentioned in By the Numbers the best thing the Habs can do is keep Gomez’s ice time below 18 minutes a game. He’s proven time and time again that he is not going to be a high scoring player this season.
When Montreal and Atlanta last met on March 1, the Canadiens won 3-1. Gomez had 19:09 minutes of ice time and was +2. Hopefully they’ll see similar results tonight. They cannot afford to keep losing.