Rabid Habs

Well Done, Habs!

Habs Dustin Tokarski

With what began as a fiery start to the postseason, ultimately morphed into a gut wrenching game 6 loss in the Eastern Conference finals for the Montreal Canadiens. After a first round sweep of the Tampa Bay Lightning and a thrilling game 7 win vs the Boston Bruins, hopes were high coming into the series against the lower seeded New York Rangers. A combination of speed and determination from the never say die squad mixed with the loss of Carey Price in the first game, the Rangers seemed to cruise by the Habs, defeating them in 6 games propelling them to the Stanley Cup final.

Not to be lost in the heartbreaking exit was the outstanding and surprising play of the Canadiens team. A team who just weeks before was counted out against their bitter rival and Presidents trophy winning Bruins club.

Some can say all emotion and adrenaline was diminished from the seven game tilt, others will blame it on the loss of all star goalie, Carey Price. Most will side with logic and facts, showing that the effortless play produced in the final game of their season was one of the worst performances this Montreal team had all year. A total of 18 measly shots were fired towards Lundqvist, a task deemed much too simple for a goaltender of his calibre.

For critics and fans alike to blame the loss on the rookie Dustin Tokarski would be ludicrous, seeing the kid gave the team a chance when all other options were few and far between. Making timely saves and squandering any chance Marty St Louis and his crew had for most of the series just wasn’t enough for this Cinderella team vying for their first Stanley cup berth since 1993.

Now as this team heads home, cleans out their lockers and begin their off season, GM Marc Bergevin and his staff will be anything but in vacation mode for the upcoming months. With the draft less than a month away, and free agency set to open a few short weeks after, many questions have arose from the Habs fanbase. 11 UFA’s and RFA’s are searching for a new contract this summer, most being veterans and big names such as, Andrei Markov, Brian Gionta and PK Subban. Though most will be focused on PK getting what he so rightly deserves, the one name I’m most interested in is Thomas Vanek.

Acquired at the trade deadline, Vanek failed to post any points for the start of his short tenure in La Belle Province. After being placed on a line with Pacioretty and Desharnais, the Austrian star began to produce at the rate all hockey fans are accustomed to for his skill. The major downfall came in the playoffs. Struggling to find the back of the net, let alone the net in general, fans were left scratching their heads at the questionable plays and lacklustre effort out forth by Thomas. He was basically non existent in the ECF and eventually demoted to the 4th line, warming the bench. Set to become a UFA in a month or so, most believe him to sign a lucrative deal in Minnesota, playing alongside good friend Jason Pominville.

While most have major faith in this young team, the majority will be startled come September, when the team we seen make this spectacular run will be a whole lot different in the locker room. Captain Brian Gionta and veteran leader Andrei Markov will most likely be without a Canadiens contract due to the fact PK Subban will be inking what some believe can be one of the highest paid contracts and rightfully so. The 25 year old showed poise and true maturity throughout the season and especially the playoffs, cementing his face next to Carey’s on the franchises current Mt Rushmore.

So as the contracts are inked, players drafted and locker room stalls are switched, fans will be holding their breath praying that the players we resign and reel in are enough to propel the Habs back to the Conference finals and more importantly the Cup final.

Whether it’s a big name fish in the free agency frenzy, or a household name already in the franchise, Marc Bergevin is a guy we can all trust to make the right moves for this club. With a nomination for the best GM this season, fans can expect him to be full force in regaining elite status placing the Canadiens in the upper echelon of hockey’s greatest teams.

By: Wes Booth
Follow Wes on Twitter: @EmCWesB