Sports Magazine

Habs in Tough Against the Bruins

By Kicks @Chrisboucher73
Focus must be on spending less time defending
Despite losing only 1 of the 4 games versus the Boston Bruins this season, the Montreal Canadiens struggled to produce above-average ratings, ratios, or success-rates in any of the games. The Habs inability to move the puck safely out of the defensive-zone hampered their ability to produce offense against the Bruins this season.
As a team, the Habs had an above average ratio in only 1 of the 4 games against the Bruins this season. Similarly, they produced an above average team rating in only 1 game.
Despite the low ratings and ratios, the Habs did not allow more scoring-chances-against per-minute than their team average in any of the four games they played. As for even-strength scoring-chances-for, Montreal was able to produce more ES scoring-chances per-minute than their season average in 2 of the 4 games.
In terms of performance by zone, the Canadiens produced an above-average offensive-zone rating in only 1 of the games, and were not able to produce an above-average defensive, or neutral-zone ratio in any of the games they played against the Bruins this season.
Montreal was not able to produce an above-average defensive-zone puck-possession success-rate against the Bruins in any game this season. Expressed differently, the Habs turned the puck over in the defensive-zone at a higher rate against Boston (during each of the 4 games) than they averaged during the season. The Habs were also more prone to offensive-zone turnovers against Boston than they averaged during the season. As for the neutral-zone, Montreal turned the puck over more often than their season average during 3 of the 4 contests.
Defensively, Montreal was able to produce an above average defensive success-rate in the defensive-zone in 2 of the 4 games. That said, the Habs spent substantially more time defending in the defensive-zone against the Bruins than they averaged during the season. Breaking down the numbers I found that the Habs were forced to attempt to remove possession from Boston in the defensive-zone an average of 15 more times per-game against the Bruins than they averaged against the rest of the league. This was mostly due to their inability to safely move the puck out of the defensive-zone. As mentioned earlier, Montreal's turnover-rate in the defensive-zone was worse against the Bruins than the Habs season average.
A large part of this turnover rate was the Habs defensive-zone passing success-rate. The Habs did not produce an above-average defensive-zone passing success-rate in any of the four games. In fact, the Habs passing success-rates were below-average in almost every defensive-zone possession metric. Including, stretch-passes, outlet passes, d-to-d passes, as well as all forms of attempted dump-outs.
Montreal's road to success against the Bruins will have to start from the defensive-zone. The Bruins will be active forecheckers; putting the pressure on Montreal's blueline to move the puck out of the d-zone both quickly, and efficiently. Similarly, the half-wall will be nothing short of a war-zone during the series; solid chip-outs along the wall by Montreal wingers will be a series-defining aspect of the Habs ability to produce any form of offensive-pressure off of the rush.
I'll focus on individual player performances in the coming days.

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