Habs Thoughts from the Peanut Gallery

It’s the end of the week. The Montreal Canadiens just played the Buffalo Sabres last night in what I had hoped would have turned out to be their 4th win in a row. Two of my colleagues, Tyler Shea and Lissa Albert, have provided thoughtful accounts of what the Habs should do from now until the end of the season (i.e., tank for a top draft pick or persevere through the season with honour). As the trade deadline looms, there is no real clarity on whether the Habs will make a move or not. Yesterday, more news concerning Carey Price surfaced, as Michel Therrien insisted that the team’s no.1 netminder is working hard to make a comeback this season. Bref, things seem to be quite…average, to be honest. I’m not sure what to think of the future of our team, and what will happen. Granted, the Habs are only 5 points out of a wildcard spot, so anything is possible. However, I am left to feel differently about this situation and am here to provide my thoughts about this.

  • Why I’m not completely satisfied with Montreal’s 3-game winning streak:

    Habs celebrate 5-1 win over Oilers (Photo by Minas Panagiotakis/Getty Images)

    Habs celebrate 5-1 win over Oilers (Photo by Minas Panagiotakis/Getty Images)

Now don’t get me wrong. I will take a win streak over a losing streak any day. It’s nice to see the smiles across the players and the fans faces for the first time in over two months. However, I can’t fully rejoice in our team’s victories.

Here’s the thing. First, the Habs beat the Edmonton Oilers, aka the talented kiddy-corps with no veteran leadership. Second, they defeat Carolina Hurricanes, who are exceeding the expectations of many pundits, who are tied with the Habs with one game in hand. However, I don’t hold the Hurricanes in high esteem, with inconsistent goaltending and defense. Thirdly, the Habs faced a tired and somewhat deflated Tampa Bay team that lost 5-1 the night before. And let’s be real: for many parts of that game, the Habs looked also like a team that had played the night before. Their execution was off and sluggish for the most part. Taken together, these are teams they should beat. Just like they should have defeated the Columbus Blue Jackets and many other teams below them in the standings.

  • Michel Therrien is pissing me off so much right now:

    Michel Therrien

    Michel Therrien during a press conference. (Picture taken from A Winning Habit)

What else is new? Yes, you can’t blame the coach for everything. The team is plagued by injuries. Yes, the players need to be held accountable. I mean, it’s great that Tomas Plekanec’s regaining his old form with talented line mates Brendan Gallagher and Alex Galchenyuk… but the latter shouldn’t be a winger. I don’t care if the line is doing well or that the Habs are winning games. It works in the short-run, but what’s going to happen long-term? The plan was to make Galchenyuk a centre but he keeps getting pushed to the wing and I’m so sick and tired of seeing David Desharnais centre the first line. I’m not a DD hater by any means. I’ve always supported him when the majority wanted him benched. But I’m over the coach’s favoritism. He keeps giving him countless chances to excel, whether it’s on the first line or the first PP unit. He’s had his chances and it’s not working. Frankly, he seems to slump almost every season and we hear the same old sayings over and over again. Michel Therrien says, “Desharnais is probably the first one who knows he needs to produce more.” and then DD, “I know I need to produce more. It’s unacceptable.” Yadadadada. I’m over it. I don’t care what happens this season, I’m not willing to compromise the development of young talent to favor a player who is at best a 3rd line centre and sometimes a 2nd line centre. The team has already screwed up the development of young players in the past, either by not playing them (Tinordi), or not giving them enough ice time/chances to succeed. The solutions to some of our team’s problems are right under their noses, yet the coach is so blinded by his own personal preferences. It makes me so angry. I could propose solutions but at the end of the day, I’m not motivated to do so until I see Therrien leave.

Also, Dale Weise does not belong on the first two lines. He was rightfully demoted to the 4th line, where he belongs. He’s at best a solid 3rd liner if needed. He has had his moments, there’s no denying that. He was on fire at the beginning of the season, but so was the rest of the team. The Habs were shooting at an unsustainable rate, so basing the team off those statistics doesn’t provide us with an accurate picture. Weise was never supposed to be a top-two forward. Now, that being said, he’s the kind of player who I see giving the Habs energy and some solid forechecking, and could be real valuable asset to have in the playoffs, when we make them next year (fingers crossed). This is all based on the assumption that the team keeps him. Personally, between Fleischmann, Weise, and Gilbert, I would pick Fleischmann because he has more hands than Weise, more experience, and could also be a valuable playoff asset. As for Gilbert, I really don’t care about him. The Habs have and had (cough cough TINORDI) competent young defensemen who deserve a chance to play in this league.

  • Carey Price:

    Carey Price

    Carey Price practicing. (Picture taken from The Canadian Press/ The Toronto Star)

Honestly, shut him down for the remainder of the season.  As previously mentioned, Therrien told the media yesterday morning that Price is working hard to make a comeback this season. This was in response to an article in La Presse where Richard Labbe argued that the Habs are trying to manipulate their fans by making them believe that the playoffs are still a possibility. Regardless of whether the team will make the playoffs or not, I don’t want the Habs to rush his return and if he needs the remainder of the season to rest, then so be it. Realistically, even if he does come back, the Montreal Canadiens don’t have a cup-contender team this year and probably wouldn’t make it past the first round. The Habs need help up front. Overall, they’ve had trouble scoring more than two goals a game. It’s been an apparent issue for a long time and keeps coming up every season. Something needs to be done. Developing their younger players properly by giving them chances to play, grow, and make mistakes is one way to get better up front. Trading for better veterans is another one that needs some serious consideration. It’s time for Marc Bergevin to make a big move. As much as I like the 3rd and 4th liners he’s gotten, we need him to acquire some real offense.

So that’s my rant. It’s cynical and pessismistic, but I can’t deny my true feelings. I just want to add one more thing: although I do feel this way, there’s always a part of me that tries to see the positive. To some extent, I think that their mini win streak may be the start of something really great, that Montreal’s first trio will wake up, that Price will come back and be 100%  healthy, and that they’ll make the playoffs. I’m a fan, like you, after all. All I can say is “it ain’t over ‘til the fat lady sings”, but you have to stay realistic too.

Let’s see if the Habs can string more wins together and make a real push.

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