Wednesday, February 03, 2016

A playoff run or a run at the #1 draft pick?

When Montreal lost it's second game in a row to Columbus (5-2) this time at home, my review of the game was scathing.  For the life of me, I couldn't pick 6 players for the dome after that abysmal effort.  To be quite frank, if the Montreal Canadiens who skated that night were all I had to choose from, I don't think I'd bother playing.  I'd probably just take the loss, and save myself the agony of trying to miraculously come up with a win with that lot.  Despite what Therrien says, despite what Pacioretty says, despite what Bergevin says, that is a team that has quit.  It is tough to get motivated to write about a team that can't get motivated to play.  It is tough to write about a team when the GM is betraying you as a fan and with that said I can understand why the players are finding it tough to continue playing under this regime.

I had hoped the all star break would reinvigorate us all.  The beautiful story that was John Scott did that, at least for my writing.  Unfortunately the same can't be said for the play of our beloved Habs.  With a 3-2 loss to the Philadelphia Flyers last night, from what I saw it was more of the same.  I didn't see the whole game though and that's why I didn't put up a game report.  I was actually busy getting the final preparations ready for a trip.  A very important trip.  As a forty year old (almost) Habs fan living in St. John's, Newfoundland I was ecstatic when the farm team came to visit us this year.  I have seen as many games as I can, and despite their record, I have yet to see them lose.  To see De La Rose, Andrighetto, and Carr, to name a few, down here has been a real treat.  They're not the best team, but the novelty of seeing the future of my team in action live, has me blinded to some mediocre play.  Again, they've never lost when I've watched them live so I've always left Mile One Centre with a smile on my face.

Couple the arrival of the baby Habs with the tremendous start the big club had and around the beginning of December I did two things.  I approached the Lions of Winter and asked if I could help get this blog back up and running.  It was always my favourite blog to read and debate on and I hated seeing it inactive for so long.  I felt that a run like the Canadiens were having deserved to be written about on as many forums as possible and so the Lions in Winter was reborn.

I also decided to treat myself.  Having been, for the duration of my membership in Canadien fandom, been a fan from afar, I booked a ticket to Montreal and bought tickets to see the Canadiens this weekend, live.  With the way they were playing I figured we'd be partying in the streets, singing "Ole" until the wee hours of the morning, wondering what awards Subban and Price would take home, and taking about who Montreal matches up better going into the playoffs... and then the arse came out of her (that's a Newfoundland expression that accurately describes Montreal since December 2).

It is in preparation for that trip that I was busy last night and thus won't be doing a blog about the game versus the Flyers.  I'm starting to wonder, though, if perhaps I jinxed the Habs.  In early December I did two things, I started up this blog again and I bought that ticket and since then they have stunk.  Maybe  it has nothing to do with the lack of scoring, the terrible own zone giveaways, or inconsistent, sometimes subpar goaltending.  Perhaps Therrien's lack of creativity is more minor than we think it is.  Bergevin might be a brilliant GM after all.  There's a good chance, looking back on the events that have led up to this point that this is all my fault.  I hope the Montreal locals don't find out about it until after I've come and gone.  I'll surely be lynched if they do.

I do have a plan to help counter this essence of evil I've released on the Canadiens in December.  I will take an extra passenger from Newfoundland and hope that his positive Karma will travel well and fill the Bell Centre upon his arrival.  He would be the newest IceCap, all-star game MVP, John Scott.  John, this past weekend, was the epitome of everything that is right about the game.  With grace and poise he handled a trade that attempted to bury him in the minors.  He eloquently, yet firmly put the NHL executives in their place.  Then proceeded to play the best hockey of his career.  Just his presence might remind the rest of the players everything there is to love about this game.  Remind the players to be thankful of their opportunity in the NHL because it can be fleeting.

If the infectious nature of John Scott's mere presence in the dressing room isn't enough maybe his presence on the bench might be.  The boobirds are out in Montreal and rightfully so.  There's only so much, knowledgeable hockey fans can take before they let you know about it.  If John Scott stepped onto the ice and did anything positive I have no doubt the positive energy would spill into the crowd.  We need that.  The players need to hear it too.  The positive energy that flowed through the blue, white, and red in the first quarter of the season has been sucked dry (either by waking up this blog or purchasing tickets for Superbowl Weekend).  Maybe John Scott could pummel someone at centre ice (not my cup of tea but at this point I'd be willing to try it) or stand in front of the opposition goal for some serious net presence.  On top of that, playing John Scott is actually a line option Michel Therrien hasn't tried yet this season (one of the few).

Regardless, the season, that started off with the whisperings of a Stanley Cup run that might have been, is, for all intents and purposes, over.  Carey Price is hurt and it isn't good.  It's likely not the groin injury we were all led to believe it was.  Word is now it's MCL on his right knee.  The same knee he hurt against the New York Rangers in 2014 (thanks Krieder).  Bergevin seems to be sticking to his guns and his support of Therrien.  It's likely Michel will get another shot at coaching Montreal this fall with a (hopefully) healthy Carey Price.  So forget about the post season this year.  Therrien is nothing without Price in the net and this team has quit.

It's not the end of the world.  I think we're so far out of it, I'm no longer worried about Bergevin making a stupid trade to save the season.  No matter what he does this season is lost. The price for Drouin was obviously too high (for a kid in his second season to quit on his AHL affiliate likely brought his value down lower than Yzerman was prepared to accept).  If we keep losing at this rate we will finish bottom three.  That's okay.  Auston Matthews is that good.  Maybe Bergevin sees the opportunity to draft that elusive top centreman this year.  Maybe he's going to let Therrien take one for the team, have us finish last, then sack him once we get this, potential, offensive juggernaut in our lineup.  Maybe doing the NHL a favour by taking John Scott all but assures the top draft in the "random lottery"  (wink, wink).

As much as they're frustrating the heck out of us they won't be this awful for long.  After all, they're not the Leafs.


On a personal note, I'm not sure I'll get a blog up tomorrow as I'll be prepping for my trip to La Belle Province.  I will have a very different perspective for a blog next week after seeing a game live.


  1. Thanks for sharing this very personal take on things. I have also thought about my complicity in the downfall of the Habs through this blog's rejuventation, but to hell with that -- they weren't looking good enough to win a Cup even in November, so what does it really matter.

    Some fundamental problems with this team probably have to be addressed, this year or later, however, if a Cup is ever to be in the cards. The ability to find a forward who can score through draft or trade is pivotal. The flexibility to let a forward who can score develop without a stifling blanket of PK duties must also come about. You mention the IceCaps, I think that's apt -- they must be better, striving to win but also do it decisively. Big clubs aren't build from middling farms.

    Whether Bergevin makes a trade or not, he has lots and lots of work to do. he should start in earnest.

  2. Well let's be honest, Carey Price has hidden a lot of the glaring defensive misques that are now in rerun on TSN. His injury is serious. An MCL that takes this long and still isn't better might need surgery and that's a surgery he hasn't had yet. Recovery from that kind of surgery is 6 months from the day he goes under the knife. If he doesn't have surgery by April he won't be ready for next season and in case it needs to be said, we don't stand a chance without him in the lineup. Fixing Price for next season should be Bergevin's #1 priority.

    His #2 priority of finding a #1 centre seems to be taking care of itself. Auston Matthews is that good. Read up on him. By doing absolutely nothing, Marc Bergevin might be inadvertently giving his club an excellent chance of landing this guy. I still think he needs to step in and demand Therrien play Galchenyuk at centre. If the kid is to develop as a centre he needs to play there. He was our best centre until he got moved to the wing. It's not like playing him on the wing, or playing anyone anywhere, has improved the team. Time to use this season for the future and put him back in the middle.

    I feel now, and always have, that we'll never do anything with Therrien at the helm. We have a golden opportunity to fire Therrien. No one will question it with how poorly Montreal is playing right now and many will rejoice it. Next year, we'll have Price back (hopefully) but so what really. Can Price play any better than he did last season? Can any goaltender? And even with Price playing as good as the best goaltender of all time, we still bowed out of the playoffs in the second round. At least part of the blame for this needs to lie on Therrien's shoulders and yet he seems to be sheltered by Bergevin. I wonder how long before Geoff Molson steps in and tells Bergevin it's either Bergevin or Therrien. Not soon enough if you ask me.

    Then there's trade action and there's sure to be a lot coming up. I can't, for the life of me, understand why we'd let Jarred Tinordi go for nothing. We could have let a defenseman go at the deadline for the right price (Markov) and had him available to begin to slot into the 5-6 spot. Bergevin has to find a way to add to the club, without taking away, this trade deadline.

    I would also bring Fucale up for a game or two. Give him a taste of life without Price as he may never fully recover from this.

  3. Enjoy the trip!

    I take two positives from this debacle.
    1 - makes for great talk radio
    2 - hope for draft pick as you all mentioned.