Ramblings: Julien fired; Cirelli update; Radulov, Lee, Rakell, and more – February 25

Michael Clifford

2021-02-25

The big news from Wednesday is that the Montreal Canadiens have fired head coach Claude Julien and assistant coach Kirk Muller. This comes off the heels of a pair of losses to the Senators, both games where the Senators looked like the better team, honestly.

As a Habs fan, I will say this: the team has been great at 5-on-5 for years. Since they last made it out of the second round in 2015, here are the team's ranks in 5-on-5 expected goal share, starting with 2015-16: 10th, 4th, 13th, 4th, 3rd, and 1st. By actual goal share in the same time frame, the team ranked: 18th, 6th, 29th, 9th, 13th, 1st. So in the last six years, they have been top-5 by expected goal share four times, top-10 by actual goal share three times, and have not made it out of the second round once.

Special teams have long been an issue for the team. They are 20th on the PP by goals/60 this year and 24th on the PK. Last year those numbers were 24th and 20th. The year before they were 30th and 12th. Not a single top-10 season by either PK or PP in the last three years. We can argue about the power play and them having enough top-end talent, but there's no reason for a consistently average-to-bad penalty kill outside goaltending (and that's another big issue here).

While Julien has been a great 5-on-5 coach for the Habs, it's clear that there have been special teams issues throughout that pre-date even Julien's tenure but have persisted. Add that to the fact that bad goaltending – or rather a bad goaltender with an insane contract – can sink any coach, and, well, here we are.

This only changes their fortunes with better special teams and better goaltending. The latter, I'm not so sure about.

You can read Alex MacLean’s take here.

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A quick update on Anthony Cirelli: