Two and a Few Reasons Why The Canadiens Will Be Even Better Next Season

Photo: Montreal Canadiens Fansite

Photo: MontrealCanadiensFansite.com

If you were to tell me a year ago  that the Habs would win the championship to (debatably) the most skilled division in the league, I would have instantly subdued you and transported you to a mental health clinic. (That says something about me, eh?) Fact of the matter, is that the Habs overachieved based on the expectations of all hockey “experts”. Going into the 2013-2014 season, the Habs, as well as their fans, can expect an enjoyable ride to the top, and this is why:

Reason #1 (and a few). A more developed Galchenyuk, Gallagher, Eller & Price:

Galchenyuk: Canadiens fans knew what to expect when they drafted Galchenyuk: a skilled forward, but only in some years time. Not many would have expected him to instantly come into the league, appearing and playing like a veteran. He amassed 27 points in 48 games, but it was more his ability to skate and puck handle around defenders that have been playing in the league 5, 10 and even 15 years, that truly caught the eye of viewers. That was only his first season, which was limited to 48 games (there was a lockout right?). By next season, there will be a more confident and experienced Galchenyuk, ready to take on the league.

Gallagher: While everyone was surprised with the production of Galchenyuk, there was even more surprise by the play of Gallagher. A 5’9, 5th round pick coming into the season and a Calder nominee, coming out. With 28 points in his 44 games, Gallagher was projected to reach 28 goals and 24 assists in a full 82 game season. Not too shabby for a rookie. By next season, we will see like Galchenyuk, a more developed, more skilled and more confident Gallagher. (We can only hope that he and Galchenyuk are unaffected by the infamous Old wives’ tale of the “Sophomore Slump”).

Eller: For a couple of years, Eller had a very minimal role on the Canadiens roster with the coaching of former coach, Jacques Martin. As new coaching staff took over, Eller’s role grew to beyond what he had ever seen and felt in the NHL. His ice-time count started to slightly increase, but it was more the confidence that coach Therrien had in him. After the “hit-to-which-we-do-not-speak” (The Gryba one), we saw what the Canadiens had lost. Whether it was the reason or not, it was still a major factor in the sudden downfall of the Canadiens in the playoffs. Next season, with a healthy and more developed Eller, we will see the talented Eller’s role grow even more so then ever as a solid Centre.

Price: There is not too much to say about Price’s performance this year. Let me rephrase, there is a lot, but I don’t want to get harassed by crazy fans, (I’m just kidding! I’m just kidding!). Truth be told, yes, he could have played better. His play (or lack thereof according to some), angered a large number of fans. As to why Price did not play as great as some expected, it is unknown. What is known, is that a large deal of it came from the missing defensive defence aspect of the Canadiens’ game. In numerous occasions, the defence were nowhere to be found. Whether it is the defensemen or Price himself, none must be blamed, although both must improve. With the firing of goaltending coach Pierre Groulx, and recent hiring of Stéphane Waite, Price will be able to redeem himself. Goalies only tend to reach their peak by 30 years of age or even later, so this upcoming season, at only 26 years old, Price will show his gradual increase to being a top goalie in the league again.

Reason #2 (and a few): More Stress Taken Off Plekanec and Prust:

Plekanec: Speaking of Eller’s growing role, there will be a huge load taken off the turtle-necked Plekanec’s back. Plekanec has been for several years the “go-to”  centerman for power plays, penalty kills, and simply ice-time in general. Next season, as Eller matures and approaches his skillful peak, Therrien will not always find the need to rely on Plekanec to do all the dirty work. This will result in a more experienced Eller and a less stressed Plekanec. Both players will then be able to flourish their potential as two very accomplishable centermen.

Prust: Prust was brought in a year ago to (unlike Plekanec), literally get his hands dirty; dirty with blood that is. Prust proved to Habs fans everywhere that he has much more than iron fists, he showed he can be a solid 3rd or 4th line power forward. He notched several points, but he was also used to pave the ice for the two young Gallys; Galchenyuk and Gallagher. His sudden larger role than expected clearly payed off, as both rookies exceeded expectations. While it was physically painful for Prust, it was mentally painful for fans to watch Prust have to fight every single player that challenged the team, even those that had half a foot in height over him. As “unfair” as it was to make him do it all, he had to. There was no one else. With the addition of Parros this season, Prust will not have to constantly feel obligated to get his face bruised as sacrifice. Him and Parros will be able to take their turns in the ring, and do so based on weight class, (yes, there is always room for mathematics).

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4 Responses to Two and a Few Reasons Why The Canadiens Will Be Even Better Next Season

  1. Really enjoyed reading this Micah!

    Michael Gomez July 18, 2013 at 2:03 am Reply
    • Thanks a lot Michael! Really appreciate it!

      Micah Winston July 18, 2013 at 2:13 pm Reply
  2. Excellent post. If I could add one aspect that I think most would agree to, was the importance of Alexi Emelin. He threw up 110 hits and the Canadiens gave up 55 goals in 15 games without Emelin for a goals-against average of 3.66. Before Emelin’s departure, the Canadiens’ goals-against average was 2.39.

    Otherwise, spot on post!

    Jason Brown July 18, 2013 at 8:33 am Reply
    • Thanks very much Jason! I do very much agree with what you said. As I was writing this, it appeared like it was getting quite lengthy, so I tried limiting how much I wrote hence my partial lie of “two and a few reason” haha. I will probably end up making a 2nd part to this where I’ll write a few more reasons like your mention about Emelin which is very true. With a healthy Emelin, a large number of goals against will be reduced (Assumably). I really appreciate your comment and reading!

      Micah Winston July 18, 2013 at 2:16 pm Reply

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