Neither better nor worse
It’s difficult to recognize real improvement when a team scores so few goals and is so generous defensively. The figures show that not only do Martin St-Louis’ men generate relatively few scoring chances, but they also have difficulty taking advantage of them. Long-term injuries to Kirby Dach and Alex Newhook have obviously impacted that plan. However, it is not their fault that, between them, Brendan Gallagher, Cole Caufield, Josh Anderson and Juraj Slafkovsky should have scored 15 more goals at five on five, according to the site Natural Stat Trick. As for defensive play, it remains CH’s great weakness. The club is among the most generous in the league in terms of shots and expected goals. The refrain is now known: without the brilliance of the goalkeepers, who saved 13 to 20 goals according to the sources consulted, the Canadian would certainly be even lower in the rankings.
Neither better nor worse
This season’s success rate (17.6%) is slightly higher (16.1%) than that of 2022-2023. Now, is this unit better than it was? Not really. Here too, the absence of Kirby Dach hurts. But that doesn’t explain everything, especially since it’s a phase of play that the organization has said it’s interested in, after essentially abandoning it last season. The game choices are often predictable, and the execution is messy. The same tics recur, over and over again. Unable to position himself to take one-timers, Cole Caufield insists on shooting from tight angles. The trail pass to restart the attack from the defensive territory often seems like an adventure. In short, it’s not very conclusive.
The scenario is almost identical to last year. The current save rate (73.0%) is essentially the same as the previous campaign (72.7%), which was marked by long-term injuries to several key players on the penalty kill. This time it is difficult to find an excuse. The stagnation is evident. We can probably even speak of a regression. The defensive scheme has been modified, so that we now deploy the “diamond”, with an attacker at the top of the territory and a defender near the net. Even though this is a very widespread strategy in the league, it definitely does not work, and the fixes are slow to be made. Head coach Martin St-Louis repeats that a man’s short-term failures are mainly attributable to individual errors. In terms of volume, it looks more like a systemic problem.