NHL.com is providing in-depth analysis for each of its 31 teams throughout August. Today, three key statistics for the Montreal Canadiens.
[Canadiens 31 IN 31: Season preview | 3 Questions | Top prospects | Fantasy breakdown]
1. Price's save percentage against power play
Goalie Carey Price quieted critics who doubted whether he could return to world-class form after finishing with an NHL career-worst .900 save percentage in 2017-18. The 32-year-old finished tied for fifth in the NHL in wins (35) with Marc-Andre Fleury of the Vegas Golden Knights and tied for fourth in save percentage (.918) with Pekka Rinne of the Nashville Predators (minimum 50 games). Price excelled when facing the power play, when he had the fourth-best save percentage in the NHL (.893) among goalies with the same qualifier. Price was also tied for fifth in shutouts (four) with Mikko Koskinen of the Edmonton Oilers, Matt Murray of the Pittsburgh Penguins and Rinne. If defenseman Shea Weber stays healthy and Montreal is successful in its physical and possession-based system, Price likely is in line for another strong season.
Video: Top 10 saves of 2018-19: Price
Montreal will look to build on its numbers from last season, when it was third in the NHL with 2,203 hits, behind the Pittsburgh Penguins (2,363) and Golden Knights (2,268). Jeff Petry led the Canadiens with 190 hits, 12th among NHL defensemen, but he was far from their only physical presence. Forward Nicolas Deslauriers was limited to 48 games but had 135 hits, and Weber had 129 hits in 58 games. Montreal traded forward Andrew Shaw (128 hits in 63 games) to the Chicago Blackhawks but added defenseman Ben Chiarot, who was third on the Winnipeg Jets with 171 hits in 78 games last season.
Video: 31 in 31: Montreal Canadiens 2019-20 season preview
3. Shot volume
The Canadiens may be using analytics to employ a style of play that emphasizes high shot volume; they were third in the NHL in shots on goal last season with 2,796, behind the Carolina Hurricanes (2,821) and Golden Knights (2,815). Seven of the top 10 teams in shots qualified for the 2019 Stanley Cup Playoffs (Hurricanes, Golden Knights, Toronto Maple Leafs, Penguins, San Jose Sharks, Boston Bruins, Nashville Predators). Montreal's heavy shot volumes led to positive possession metrics; it was fourth in the NHL in shot attempts differential (plus-662) behind the Hurricanes (plus-750), Sharks (plus-734) and Golden Knights (plus-671). The Canadiens could have an even better SAT differential this season if Weber, who was plus-149 in 58 games, can stay healthy.
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