Rabid Habs

The Forum: The West Coast

San Jose Sharks

The Montreal Canadiens did not do well on the West Coast. A shutout performance from Price against the lowly Coyotes saved the trip from being a complete disaster, but the fact is the Habs did not look good in California. So we ask the panel, how concerned are you with what happened on the West Coast?

Sean (@TheONeillFactor) – In many ways the best-case scenario for this season has been that the Habs win the Eastern Conference before getting spanked by LA, Chicago, St. Louis, or another Western Conference heavyweight. Let’s just say this road trip did little to change that perception – a small sample size, sure, and maybe the team was just exhausted and due for a bit of a dip, but the Habs looked outmatched against San Jose, Anaheim, and LA. As far as measuring stick games go (and that’s what I believed this road trip to be) the Habs came up far too short.

Kyle (@kyleroussel) – I have no idea. We’ve got lazy fall back excuses like “the time change screwed them up” to the more likely excuses like “the California teams are not good match ups.” Maybe there are things that we can’t calculate, like desperation. The Sharks and Kings are both playing for their playoff lives. Maybe it’s as simple as them wanting it more. Maybe they’re simply better than the Habs. Maybe the Habs consciously or unconsciously know that these out-of-conference games mean little and that the next time they have to do this trip is in the Cup finals, so perhaps it’s more beneficial to them to soak in some vitamin D. I don’t know, but it’s probably various parts of all these things, and other factors too.

Oh, forget it. Let’s just blame Therrien for the whole thing.

Damon (@DTA23) – I’m not too worried about the results. The fact is that if the Habs do make the Final they only have to play one West Coast team. Depending on who that team is they might have home ice advantage. The time zone difference is much harder on the team traveling east, which would be to the Habs advantage, so that’s a positive.

I obviously would have liked to see the Habs out up a better fight, but I’m not going to be discouraged by the results. In a 7-game series you have one opponent and not a slew of different ones, in which case you can do a better job making adjustments.

Zach (@ZachVanasse) -Like Sean said, I think many of us viewed the trip into California as a chance to play some really interesting measuring stick games. At the very least, had the Habs performed well (and I don’t mean just Carey) I believe the narrative that ‘the Canadiens could win the East on Price’s back, but probably not the Cup’ might have changed a little. It was an opportunity for the team to silence their many critics. In the end it was an opportunity missed.

On the other hand, a little adversity is always a good thing, right? It gave Defacto Captain Carey the opportunity to stand up and speak, and it might have served as a reality check for the previously flying high Habs (let’s face it, they grabbed first in the East on an extremely soft February schedule in which bad habits could have easily formed and gone undetected and/or unaddressed).

I don’t love what happened in California, but I’m pretty sure we can say that about every California trip the Habs have been on since I can remember.

The truth is, I’m much more interested (concerned?) about what the Habs do against Tampa Bay tonight.

Pierre-Alain (@PsaintLo) – I’m not worried either. It’s not like we’re the kind of team considered to be Cup or Bust.

If we make it to the Final and get killed for four games in row, I think it would still be considered a very successful season.

Still, the Habs looked like a great AA team who decides to join a AAA tournament. All of sudden, the players are bigger, stronger, faster and everyone kind of loses their sense of what they are supposed to be doing.

Plus we had to incorporate a bunch of new players on the fly, which is not an easy task.

Still, I can’t wait to be back on the East Coast to cheer for a good hockey team again.

John (@LWOScjcasselman) – It was less than 3 years ago that Marc Bergevin inherited an organization coming off a last place (Eastern Conference) finish. They were “awarded” the 3rd overall selection, helping to restart the reset/rebuild. To put in perspective just how far this organization has come, only 4 teams have a better regular season record since play resumed during the strike shortened season (2012-2013). So, yes, expectations have grown, immensely.

That said, the losses on the West coast are not concerning, especially considering that the team did not even have a practice with newcomers Mitchell, Flynn and Petry. Should the team meet any one of San Jose, Anaheim or LA in the finals, then yes, we have something to fret about, but in the interim we still must pull focus and concentrate exclusively on the opponent in front of us. Certain teams are just not great match-ups. Teams that have big, strong skilled centres like those in LA will always be tough to beat. Desharnais and Plekanec will have trouble against the likes of Pavelski/Thorton, Getzlaf/Kesler and Kopitar/Carter. These players help drive puck possession and force the Canadiens to defend rather than attack. The Canadiens will one day be dictating matchups as our style of play evolves to align with personnel. But, right now, we are making the most of what we have.

So, in closing, I’m enjoying the overall success of the team and will focus more on the record than small samples including the trip to the West Coast.