“I think we’re overthinking instead of just reacting,” defender Jeff Petry said this season. “I think it’s making us react slowly.”

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The Canadiens seem like a team that thinks too much and plays too little.

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They also looked that way last season after Dominique Ducharme replaced Claude Julien as head coach and worked to implement his new system without much practice time due to the condensed schedule caused by the pandemic.

The Canadiens were 15-16-7 as they ended the regular season with Ducharme in charge. They fell three games to one behind to the Toronto Maple Leafs in the first round of the playoffs before the system finally started clicking and they made it all the way to the Stanley Cup final before losing to the Tampa Bay Lightning. Three of the Canadiens’ victories in their semi-final series against the Vegas Golden Knights came with Luke Richardson acting as head coach after Ducharme tested positive for COVID-19.

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This season, Canadians have been as confused on the ice as they were when Ducharme first assumed command. Losing veterans Carey Price, Shea Weber, Corey Perry and Eric Staal, who likely helped sell, if not tweak the system last season, certainly hasn’t helped, but the Canadiens’ record speaks for itself.

Heading into Thursday night’s game against the Colorado Avalanche, the Canadiens were 6-16-2, ranked 29th in the NHL on offense, 31st on defense, had been outscored 76-26 in their 18 losses and they have not won two. games in a row all season.

Ducharme has often spoken about how Nick Suzuki is sometimes guilty of overthinking the game when he’s on the ice, which has a negative effect on his game.

“Sometimes when he tries to over-groom the game, that’s where he gets less active … and he just tries to guess what the other team is going to do,” Ducharme said of Suzuki. “He doesn’t need to do that. It’s so smart you already have it. When he brings that competitive side to him, that’s what makes him good on both sides, both defensively and offensively. “

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As losses continue to pile up for the Canadiens, I wonder if Ducharme is more guilty of trying to overthink the game rather than Suzuki.

Ducharme is a coach who eats, sleeps and breathes hockey, and obviously has a high IQ for the game or he wouldn’t have won a Memorial Cup with the Halifax Mooseheads, along with silver and gold medals with Team Canada at the junior world championships. . before joining the Canadiens as an assistant coach three years ago. But it certainly seems his system is too complex for Canadiens players to master.

I asked Ducharme on Thursday morning if he had messed up his system a lot this season.

“No, not so much,” he said. “A little adjustment, touch-ups and things like that. Again, it’s finding that rhythm and finding a way to be able to do it every night. “

His players have not been able to do that.

I asked defender Brett Kulak on Thursday morning if he could explain why the system that worked in the playoffs didn’t work this season.

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“That’s been the question we’ve all asked ourselves all season so far,” Kulak said. “I don’t know… it’s just about executing, doing our own work and what is expected of us personally. I think we all know that sometimes that doesn’t happen and teams are good in this league. If you have a fault, they will probably put the disk on the network. You just give them a boost and they start to feel good and then they spend a certain amount of time in zone D and that wears you down and sometimes you get more tired. When you play like this, more mistakes happen … it just has been piling up like this.

“We know our details, we know what makes us a good team,” Kulak added. “There are some points that even if we’re not getting rebounds or whatever comes our way, if we stick to a few simple things, winning our battles, keeping the pucks moving, handling the puck well, we should be successful that way. “

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I asked defender Jeff Petry this season if the numerous failures in the defensive zone were the result of players being confused or trying to do too much.

“I think it’s a combination of both,” he said. “Everyone wants to do the right thing and they want to help kill the play and turn it around. I think we are overthinking instead of just reacting. I think it’s making us react slowly. When you are thinking and you are a little indecisive is when things are not so easy. When you have confidence in yourself and your teammates, and you’re playing on tiptoe knowing that I’m going to go and even if they beat me, there will be layers, there will be that support and I feel like that’s something. that we are missing right now. “

It seems the Canadiens need a new system that allows them to play more and think less.

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Reference-montrealgazette.com

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