Rabid Habs

The Forum: How Screwed Are The Habs Without Pacioretty?

Habs' Max Pacioretty

Max Pacioretty went down and didn’t get back-up again on Sunday evening. While the Canadiens remain have said little about his status going forward, there is real cause for concern that the Habs may be entering the first round of the playoffs without their leading goal scorer. So today we ask, just how screwed are the Habs without Patches?

Kyle (@kyleroussel) – The Habs have thin offense with Pacioretty firing on all cylinders. I don’t know how you can make the case that they’d suddenly get ample production in the playoffs without him. Ultimately I think the answer to this question depends on what your expectations for the playoffs are. If you drink Bergevin’s Kool-Aid, then this is a team in transition and making the playoffs is the ultimate goal. If that’s his vision, then the Habs aren’t screwed at all because they’ve already accomplished their mission.

For the rest of us, however, who think he’s just managing inflated expectations with the “make the playoffs / team in transition” junk, the Canadiens are royally screwed sans Pacioretty. Sure they could battle through the first round and get it done by committee, but eventually the effects of losing your leading goal scorer will come home to roost.

A couple additional thoughts / questions:

1- For the Therrien haters – does this take the coach off the hook if they lose in the first round? Does losing his leading scorer provide enough shade for the coach to hide under?
2- Do we expect the Habs to do anything other than announce that he’s day-to-day with an upper body injury (if they’re even that detailed)?

Steph (@stephdarwish) – A few thoughts:

1- It was nice to see that once Pacioretty went down, the Habs were able to put 4 in the net. It’s one game, but I think my feelings would be way more pessimistic if they lost the game to Florida 2-1.
2- Pacioretty isn’t exactly a playoff performer. The Habs got to the 3rd round with him snakebitten for most of the 1st and 2nd round last year.
3- I don’t like the idea of going into the playoffs without Pacioretty, but of all the cornerstone pieces of this team, he worries me the least. Firstly, his recovery from injury track record is excellent. Doctors say 8 months, he says 8 hours 🙂 Secondly, if this were Price, or even Subban, I’d say Habs were all but done. But Pacioretty’s contributions can be made up by other players, unlike if it were Price or Subban.

Damon (@DTA23) – More important than actual scoring brought by Patches is the threat of scoring. Teams have to game plan for him and the opposition is highly aware of where he is on the ice. People talk about the physical grind of a best of seven but the mental grind is what leads to mistakes. I think if you take away the threat of an elite scorer that makes the opposition’s mental load significantly lighter.

So with Patches generating extra attention all of a sudden his linemates get a little more breathing room. Take that away and I don’t think it’s nail in the coffin drastic, but it does make things incrementally harder and reduces the margin for error on the Habs side.

Zach (@ZachVanasse) – For all the reasons mentioned above, I think the Habs are in pretty deep trouble without Max. But in a series against Detroit, Ottawa or Pittsburgh, I believe the Canadiens could possibly survive without Max’s offence (or even the threat of his offence) with a little bit of secondary scoring.

But if the Hockey Gods have decided Montreal must beat Boston in the first round (which is looking more and more likely than expected just a couple of days ago), I think Patches will be sorely, sorely missed. Max Power is a Bruins killer and we all like to talk about how the Habs probably would have knocked off the Bruins in 2011 had we just had Max. I really don’t want that to be the talking point again.

John (@RabidHabs_CJ) – In the spring of 2011, the Montreal Canadiens entered the post season against the higher seeded Boston Bruins. The Habs were missing Markov, Gorges and Max Pacioretty. Despite these losses, plus the losses sustained during the series, the Habs took the eventual Stanley Cup champions to a 2nd overtime in Game 7. Although it can be argued that the 2011 team was better equipped to overcome the losses, it is but one example of a team fighting through adversity.

Does the loss of Max hurt? Absolutely. He’s a tremendous player who makes those that he plays with better. That said, there are 19 other players who contribute towards the outcome of any game. The New York Rangers advanced to the Cup final last year with Rick Nash not producing. Great teams have the ability to overcome key injuries. If the Habs can’t win a first round because Pacioretty is out, then the team is not good enough. Lastly, the loss will provide an opening for someone to step up. If Galchenyuk is elevated to the top line it will be an excellent opportunity for him to showcase his skills.

I hate the thought of such a key loss, but play continues. On the bright side, when/if he returns it would be a huge boost. Here’s to hoping – nay believing – that there exits enough character in the room to rally and pull through without our best forward.

Sean (@TheONeillFactor) – The only real hope here is that Pacioretty makes one of his patented speedy recoveries. Carey Price could steal a series (or maybe even two) but this team is not a legitimate Cup contender without their one elite scorer.

Maybe removing Patches from the line-up forces Therrien to loosen the reigns a tiny bit and this team can finally find some secondary scoring, but that seems unlikely.

Best case scenario – Price steals the first round series, Pacioretty is back in time for the Division Finals and the team makes a run. Worst case scenario (and far more likely, I’m afraid), the Pacioretty injury does to the Habs what the Bishop injury did to Tampa a year ago and Montreal goes out in the first round without putting up much of a fight.

One Comment

  1. Kirk Lyons

    April 9, 2015 at 4:42 pm

    Without Patches, we have a slim chance of surviving any playoff series because of his scoring punch and two-way play. My concern lately, however, is that the coach has not stuck with the same lines which gives the players less chance of getting into a good flow and thus more goals — just too much juggling for some reason!