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Three Questions with Habs Eyes on the Prize

Copper and Blue caught up with Habs Eyes on the Prize writer Andrew Zadarnowski and asked him a few questions that weren't about Jeff Petry or Tom Gilbert.

Ryan Smyth #94 of the Edmonton Oilers and Joe Juneau #90 of the Montreal Canadiens battle for the puck during the Molson Canadien Heritage Classic on November 22, 2003 at Commonwealth Stadium in Edmonton, Canada.
Ryan Smyth #94 of the Edmonton Oilers and Joe Juneau #90 of the Montreal Canadiens battle for the puck during the Molson Canadien Heritage Classic on November 22, 2003 at Commonwealth Stadium in Edmonton, Canada.
Dave Sandford/Getty Images

Copper and Blue: Alexander Galchenyuk’s role with the Montreal Canadiens has been in question for some time. After being drafting 3rd overall as a centre in 2012, he has played on the wing. Has there been a conscious effort to move him back to the middle of the ice, or do the Habs feel he is better off on the wing?

Habs Eyes on the Prize: Alex Galchenyuk has been an incredible addition to the Montreal Canadiens roster since day one, regardless of what position he plays. He brings with him tremendous puck handling ability, explosive speed, and a vision for the game that makes him a scoring threat every time he touches the puck. Head coach Michel Therrien has been very protective over Galchenyuk's development, and although it seemed over the last three seasons that he wasn't progressing and would be muted on the wing forever, the leaps he made this year when he was finally moved to centre have completely changed the dynamic of the team. He now anchors a very speedy and creative line along with Lars Eller and Alexander Semin, and it looks like the future is very bright for the 21-year old.

C&B: It seems that year in, and year out Carey Price does phenomenal things essentially carrying the Canadiens into the playoffs. What does the team need to do to take the load off of Price?

HEOP: Carey Price. Hoo boy. We like that guy. It would be delusional of the Montreal fanbase to deny that he is a primary factor of Montreal's recent successes, and other secondary factors are trailing far behind. Carey Price is a generational talent, and the Habs are blessed to have him on their team. If the Habs were to provide more support for Price, an area where they have traditionally been weak in is that they give up way too many shots against in a game.

2011-2012: -1.1 (19th) 
2012-2013: 3.6 (5th)
2013-2014: -2.6 (25th)
2014-2015: -1.7 (23rd)
2015-2016: 0.6 (16th)

The shortened 12-13 season can be considered an anomaly, but otherwise the Canadiens have been sporting a negative SF-SA differential. This boils down to their possession game being historically poor, and relying too much on a dump and chase strategy for zone entries. More often than not that's a recipe for possession turnovers. This year the Habs have adjusted their game, and have four puck moving offensive lines. The results are improved, but they still struggle to contain shots on goal against. As the players get adjusted to the puck possession strategy we might continue to see positive strides in improving a positive differential.

C&B: After back-to-back 100 point seasons and runs into the playoffs, what can the Canadiens do to take the next step and win another Stanley Cup?

HEOP: I don't like to throw negatives around too freely, but the power play has been terrible for a long time now.

2011-2012: 14.3% (28th)
2012-2013: 20.7% (5th)
2013-2014: 17.2% (19th)
2014-2015: 16.5% (23rd)
2015-2016: 21.6% (10th)

Again, if you consider the shortened 12-13 season an anomaly, the Habs are regularly at the bottom of the table for PP%. That's not acceptable if you are competing for the top prize in the League. Power Plays are rightfully considered advantages in the game that should increase your odds of scoring a goal, and yet the Habs historically fail to capitalize. At the start of the season Michel Therrien shuffled around his coaching staff, putting defensive assistant coach JJ Daigneault in charge of the Power Play, and although the results were uneven at first, recent games have given rise to optimism that this long-standing issue may have been corrected.