BROSSARD - The Canadiens haven't been playing poorly of late, but they've lacked finish.
For the first time since February 2019, Claude Julien's squad has lost three straight games. The primary reason for the tough stretch is a failure to capitalize on scoring chances.
With just six goals in their last three games, the Habs have been struggling offensively.
In order to get their scoring mojo going again, they have to get back to basics.
Interestingly enough, though, they still rank sixth in the League with 73 goals in 22 games.
"I think we've had success early on with scoring. Not only our forwards or our defense have been getting in on the rush and contributing on the power play. But at the same time right now it feels like we're gripping our sticks a little bit too tight," said forward Nick Cousins, who has two goals and seven points in 16 games. "I just think we have to get to the net a little bit more, make it harder on the other team's goalie, and the offense will come if we do that."
Nevertheless, the Canadiens have been generating their fair share of scoring opportunities.
During the 5-2 loss to the Blue Jackets last Tuesday night in Columbus, Julien's contingent amassed 32 shots on goal, including 16 from the slot. Artturi Lehkonen and Joel Armia were the only two players to beat goaltender Joonas Korpisalo.
In addition, the Canadiens' time of possession in the offensive zone was 6:20 compared to just 4:21 for the Blue Jackets.
Statistics like that prove, in part, why things aren't clicking right now.
"The last couple of games, we've outchanced both teams. I think we've carried the majority of the play as well. But at the same time when we're not burying our chances, we're kind of keeping the other team around," explained Cousins, referencing Wednesday night's 2-1 overtime loss to the Ottawa Senators at the Bell Centre. "I think if we get the lead, we want to extend the lead as well, and I think if we do a better job with that we'll set ourselves up for a better result at the end of the night."
Montreal is hoping to remedy the situation as soon as possible because even though the season is still young, every point counts.
"Obviously the points now are just as important as they are at the end of the season," said defenseman Victor Mete, who has two goals and six points in 22 games. "We want to try and get as many points now as we can. Hopefully Saturday we can come out and grab two points."
Video: Victor Mete on failling to capitalize on chances
It's no secret that there's more and more parity in the NHL.
Case and point is the fact that the Canadiens have beaten powerhouses like the Boston Bruins and Washington Capitals, while also falling to the Detroit Red Wings and Minnesota Wild this year.
Julien's players know that they must play their best hockey night after night, regardless of who they're going up against.
"Any team can beat any team on any given night. That's just the way the League is right now. Ottawa has had a lot of success in their last 10 games. A few weeks ago, I remember Detroit beat Boston," mentioned Cousins. "It's just a matter of who's ready to play and who's on top of their game. That kind of sets the result for the end of the night."
The Canadiens welcome the New York Rangers to the Bell Centre on Saturday night. Even if the Blueshirts aren't in the playoff picture, taking any opponent lightly would be a mistake.
"I think everyone comes out every single night ready to play. Any game can go any way. Every team is good. There's no easy games really," explained Mete. "I think every team, when they come out there, they're not trying to lose."