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It could be a coincidence Josh Anderson, Cole Caufield and Christian Dvorak all scored against the New York Islanders on Dec. 16. It could also be that they were all due, with Caufield last getting on the board on Nov. 29, 2023, Dvorak on Nov. 7 and Anderson last scoring (a non-empty-net goal) on March 14 of last season.

Related: Canadiens Face Critical Choice Between Dvorak & Evans at Center

Granted, it was only an empty-net goal for Dvorak, but beggars can’t be choosers, including good-news-starved Canadiens fans. And, with the Habs largely failing to take advantage of an especially easy portion of their schedule leading into the holidays, the three above Habs aren’t exactly the only ones who have been struggling. Here are the likeliest ones to next break out of their slumps:

5. Jesse Ylonen

Jesse Ylonen’s two-goal effort against the Vegas Golden Knights on Nov. 16 seems like ages ago. In reality, it’s been 14 games, with those two markers being his last. There had been calls for head coach Martin St. Louis to give him more ice time, and he did at least immediately thereafter. However, for all intents and purposes, he’s kept Ylonen in the bottom six, which has obviously limited his scoring opportunities.

Montreal Canadiens forward Jesse Ylonen – (Jess Starr/The Hockey Writers)

So, it’s not all on Ylonen, who’s notched a few assists since then (with this piece focusing mainly on skaters who have failed to score goals in regard to their slumps). If Ylonen is only getting a third-from-last 10:28 in ice time, it’s hard to blame him. Obviously, few fans are bemoaning the 12 games Michael Pezzetta has gone without a goal (7:55), because it’s simply not the role he plays. So, it’s almost a positive everyone is hoping for more out of Ylonen. It just may not be in the cards for now.

4. Jake Allen

In goalie Jake Allen’s defense, his .901 save percentage (SV%) is better than it was last season (.891). However, he’s still getting outperformed by Samuel Montembeault (.911) and even Cayden Primeau (.902).

In fact, Allen is the only one of the three who isn’t at least .500 on the season (3-6-2). That brings us to the fact he hasn’t won since Oct. 28, having started the season on fire with a 3-0-1 record and .930 SV% (and accompanying Molson Cup honors for October).

It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to realize his stats are trending lower. He has put together decent performances every now and then, including against the Nashville Predators on Dec. 10, when he gave up just two goals. However, overall, the problem is clearly not just a lack of run support, in spite of the Habs having scored just 14 goals during his seven-game losing streak.

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Ultimately, Allen is a good backup goalie, but, if goals saved above expected is a justification as to why the Canadiens extended Montembeault, it’s why Allen should be the odd man out. Combined with his contract, he just doesn’t have as much to offer as even Primeau who’s just 24.

Montreal Canadiens forward Jake Allen – (Amy Irvin / The Hockey Writers)

It’s entirely possible Allen theoretically breaks his slump in the near-term future by winning. However, looking at his entire tenure with the Canadiens, he’s been on a downward statistical trend for a few seasons and it’s logical that decent save percentage of his right now falls lower too (if the Habs don’t manage to trade him before then to bring a long-awaited end to their three-goalie rotation).

3. Brendan Gallagher

Now, Brendan Gallagher is at the very least doing all the little things right. So, in spite of the fact he hasn’t scored since Nov. 11, a span of 17 games heading into action Monday, he is getting chances. For example, against the Islanders on Dec. 16, he was in front of the net in search of rebounds like always and came within inches of scoring only to be denied by the skate blade of Alexander Romanov.

#Habs stats quiz:

Which Montreal Canadiens player leads the team in shot share (CF%) and expected goals (xGF%) in the last 10 games? (10 GP minimum)

Two players are tied for the lead in CF%. Extra points for naming both.

— Marc Dumont (@MarcPDumont) December 13, 2023

Part of the disappointment surrounding Gallagher’s cold streak lies in how he started off the season impressively. He had seven points in his first 11 games, which, no lie, was reminiscent of peak Gallagher. So, fans must reassess their expectations for him in real time, considering he has just 49 points in his last three regular seasons up to now (123 games). It’s at least reassuring to know he’s driving the play like the Gallagher of old, even if he can’t finish it like he once did.

2. Mike Matheson

Mike Matheson is still producing, just not to the same degree had been, with 20 points in 30 games on the season, but five points in his last 11. You’d have to go back 12 for the last time he scored. However, seeing as he’s already got five goals on the season (and his career high is 11), it’s hard to get too much on his case. Ultimately, no one should be too worried about the defenseman’s scoring. Like the last sentence says, he is a defenseman after all.

1. Juraj Slafkovsky

To a degree, no one should be worried about sophomore Juraj Slafkovsky’s scoring either, even if it’s all too easy to fall into the line of thinking that first-overall picks should be putting up more points at this stage of their careers. That’s not necessarily true. Ideally, he’d be putting up more points, which is not the same thing.

Montreal Canadiens forward Juraj Slafkovsky – (Photo by David Kirouac/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

All drafts are not created equal, and Slafkovsky’s in 2022 was obviously not as talented as others in the past that featured elite if not outright generational talents at the top. So, even though there are legitimate concerns he has just two goals on the season, including none since Nov. 18, what fans should really be concerned about is whether or not the Canadiens are developing him the right way.

Those concerns should be alleviated now that St. Louis has put him back on the top line with Caufield and Nick Suzuki. More to the point they should be reassured by how he’s been contributing, including with a key assist against the Islanders.

Obviously, the hope is and should be that Slafkovsky puts up more points and goals than the eight and two respectively he has so far this season. However, if he continues to play like he has been on the top line, it’s a fair assumption he’ll score sooner than later (and, most importantly, keep scoring regularly).

Seeing as many envisioned Slafkovsky as playing with the duo when he was first drafted, it’s a source of optimism how he has looked far from out of place. Some might go so far as to say it’s where he belongs. It’s at least arguably where he should stay. If he does, the chances (and goals) will come.

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