- Wednesday’s Morning Skate: Price “Questionable,” Lineup Shuffled
- The Recency Bias: Game 73 – Habs Lose 2-1 to Red Wings in OT
- Game Preview: Habs vs. Red Wings
- TSN: Montreal Canadiens Are a Stanley Cup Favourite
- The Recap: Game 72 – Sens vs Habs
- The Recency Bias: Game 72 – Habs Beat Sens 4-1
- The Recap: Game 71 – Habs vs Sens
- Preview: Canadiens @ Senators
- Preview: Montreal Canadiens vs Chicago Blackhawks
- The Recap: Game 69 – Habs vs Oilers
Perception vs Reality
- Updated: July 17, 2015
The dog days of summer. The time of year when suppressive heat can irritate an itch and inflame even the most passive a person. The weather, along with the insatiable thirst for hockey news and a desire to move forward have propelled Montreal Canadiens fans into a frenzied state.
The primary frustration appears to be a lack of change within the organization. Aside from retaining the services of UFA’s Torrey Mitchell and Jeff Petry there wasn’t a big splash in free agency. The single trade has polarized the fanbase as Bell Centre favorite Brandon Prust is shipped out west for the talented, but inconsistent Zack Kassian.
While it has been widely reported that GM Marc Bergevin is among the most active GMs, the lack of change has many fans suggesting that the organization has not improved and in fact ceded ground to divisional rivals within the Eastern Conference. Although I would agree that others have gotten better – mind you, they couldn’t have gotten much worse – I’m not so sure that the 2015-16 Canadiens roster will be without significant changes.
I’ve always believed that Habs fans have both the best and worst memories. Ask a fan who scored the 3rd goal in game seven vs the Bruins, or who started the 1983 season in goal and an answer is immediately forthcoming. Yet, such a knowledgable group conveniently forgets just how far this team has come in one calendar year. It’s true, Bergevin did not add a top six forward and/or bring in a top line centre. However, fans who believe these commodities are readily available are either mistaken or must accept that the cost will be significant. After all, would Habs fans want to trade Alex Galchenyuk? What about Max Pacioretty? So, if the answer is no, then why do we assume a rival organization would want to get rid of their best players?
To those suggesting the roles could be filled by “value picks”; guys like Brad Boyes….forget about it. We are further ahead with a rookie in place. As far as I am concerned, if we want top end talent we must draft and develop it ourselves.
Cause and Effect
So, shifting gears, let’s look at cause and effect. Ruling out a trade of significance, we are left to ice the same lineup, right?
As I alluded to earlier, Habs fans have a memory of convenience. We forget that Alexei Emelin began last season alongside PK Subban and that Weaver was in the opening night lineup. We had Moen and Bourque, the latter provided every possible opportunity to get on track. Yes, many of the pieces are the same, but their deployment could help construct a much different team. A former first line that has David Desharnais and Parenteau could yield two changes. On the back end, each of the three pairings could feature a different composition. Finally, the 2nd, 3rd and 4th lines could be completely different. All this is to say that many of the pieces are now in place. Piecing them together is arguably the biggest hurdle; our final frontier.
Pending injuries or trades, here is what I believe will be the opening night roster;
Pacioretty – Plekanec – Gallagher
Galchenyuk – Eller – Andrighetto
de La Rose – Desharnais – Kassian
Weise – Mitchell – Smith-Pelly
Beaulieu – Subban
Markov – Petry
Emelin – Pateryn
When you contrast this lineup vs the one that opened last season in Toronto you will see a very different configuration. I don’t understand how one could suggest that we have the exact same team? The Habs will be younger, bigger and will feature more skill in primary positions.
The league today is as rich in parity as it’s ever been. Injuries will go a very long way to determining success or failure (see Columbus last season), however, the Habs remain among the Eastern Conference elite.
Sure, some will say the glass remains half empty. However, what if Lars Eller gets second wave PP time? Beaulieu should dramatically improve his point total. Galchenyuk has the potential to break out. Kassian, a pending RFA, is playing for a contract, as is DSP. Jaocb de la Rose can help sustain the loss of Prust on the PK and Pateryn/Emelin could become excellent third pairing defenders averaging 12 minutes a night. Markov, with a lessened workload, could enter the postseason fresh. And finally, provided the back up position improves, Price can be steadied and readied for an extended postseason run.
Like Warren Buffett, I like to go against the grain. Bet against the majority. Right now many Habs fans are frustrated. Me, I’m excited. I see huge growth opportunities and major results in the near future. To those claiming that the window of opportunity is closing – I believe the exact opposite; it’s just opened. Bergevin does not need to make a move today while the trade market favors the seller.
Should our prospects not be able to hold down a position in the top six then the time to strike will be in December, but only after we’ve given them a fair test. After all, the upside is enormous. Perhaps we will discover our own Tyler Johnson? Even better, maybe in a couple years Duval fans are saying that he’s the next Charles Hudon. Dream big Habs fans. I do.
Follow me on Twitter: @RabidHabs_CJ.