About last night …

PriceCarolina

Must we discuss the hockey game that was played at the Bell Centre Monday night?
Nah.

What’s to discuss?
The Canadiens have OWNED Carolina this season.
The 4-1 win completed a sweep and brought the aggregate score to 11-3.
The Hurricanes are a one-line hockey team, and the Canadiens effectively contained Eric Staal, Jiri Tlusty (who hit the goal post while the game was still close) and that Russian dude Jim Rutherford thinks is worth $7 million per through the 2016-’17 season.
Carey Price made 18 saves, the penalty killers held Carolina to two shots in 10 minutes of power-play time and Max Pacioretty scored twice for the first time since Feb. 27.
It will probably take 52 points to make the playoffs in the Eastern Conference.
The Canadiens have 51 … which means they’ve punched a ticket to the dance, even if they go 0-12-1 between now and April 28.
And there’s a really good chance they’ll do better.

So let’s jump ahead to the merry month of May and think about how deep this team can go in the postseason.

And let’s look ahead to 3 p.m. EST on Wednesday.

Will Marc Bergevin bolster his lineup before the NHL trade deadline?

How?

Based on what I’ve seen through 35 games, I think the Canadiens general manager should proceed with extreme caution.

The team has surprised everyone this year … probably including Bergevin and the ace hockey men – Rick Dudley, Larry Carrière and Scott Mellanby – working with him in the Canadiens’ front office. No one expected this team to be first in the Northeast Division ad second in the Eastern Conference – five points behind the Crosby-less Penguins, with a game in hand – as April begins.

The Canadiens have won 23 games – a total exceeded only by Pittsburgh, Chicago and Anaheim. Their plus-27 goal differential is third best in the league.

If the Canadiens can remain among the top four teams in the conference – and there’s every probability they will – Pittsburgh and Boston can be avoided until the latter rounds of the postseason.

If the playoffs began now, the Canadiens would meet the Devils in the opening round. The Martin F. Brodeur Jinx notwithstanding, I prefer New Jersey to either Ottawa or Toronto. There’s less of a chance of an upset against NJ than there would be in a crazy, emotional eastern Canadian series against the Senators or Leafs.

So the Canadiens are a lock to make the playoffs and a good bet to go at least one round deep and maybe more.

Is a 25th Stanley Cup a possibility? And what should Bergevin sacrifice to boost the chances of a June parade in downtown Montreal?

At the risk of having the Commentariat rise as one to suggest the Ol’ Blogger be dipped in Nutella and fed to hungry grizzly bears, I think your Montreal Canadiens are a very good hockey team that’s not quite Cup calibre.

Now I don’t want to rain on the aforementioned parade. Strange things happen in the playoffs. And if Carey Price finds his inner Jaro Halak … well, who knows what could happen?

But the best is yet to come, and I wouldn’t want any trade-deadline moves that compromise the Canadiens’ bright future.

This team will be a lot better when Alex Galchenyuk is logging more than the 7:57 ToI he had against Carolina.

Nathan Beaulieu, who played 15:17 and was plus-2, is going to be a good defenceman for a long time.

The core of the team – Tomas Plekanec, Max Pacioretty, Brandon Prust and, yes, David Desharnais – is signed long-term to affordable contracts. Lars Eller will get an extension next season. And we can hope that P.K. Subban is re-upped before Christmas. Five years for $35 million will be the basis of the discussion – more if P.K. wins the Norris and the team goes deep.

Brendan Gallagher is playing his heart out for $870,000 in a deal that has two more seasons to run. Jarred Tinordi will be in Montreal next season.

Oh, and the goaltender is signed through 2017-’18.

And the Canadiens have six picks in the first three rounds of a vintage draft.

Bottom line: Barring a first-round loss to the Leafs, the agony of which would be assuaged by watching the whole Hockey Night in Canada studio crew perish when their pants explode, this has been a GREAT season.

Unlike Ray Shero in Pittsburgh, Peter Chiarelli in Boston, Paul Holmgren in Philadelphia – the list goes on and on – Marc Bergevin is under ZERO pressure to make a blockbuster deal.

The Canadiens’ GM is playing with house money.

So what should Bergevin do?

On L’Antichambre, Mathieu Darche made the case for prying Jason Pominville out of Buffalo. Darche considers Pominville the second most complete player in the league, after Patrice Bergeron.

Pominville would be a great addition. But there’s likely to be a bidding war.

Jaromir Jagr to play with Plekanec? Also an interesting possibility.

But given the uncertain state of Raphael Diaz’s health, the inexperience of Beaulieu and the risk of playing Andrei Markov 24 minutes a night in the postseason, the Canadiens mainly could use help on D.

Stéphane Robidas, from those nice people folks in Dallas who provided Michael Ryder?

He’d be good. But the Stars are still in the playoff hunt.

Ryan O’Byrne? Maybe … if the price were right.

That’s the key. If I’m Bergevin, I’m not discussing the Canadiens’ first-round pick, or the Calgary and Nashville choices they hold in the second round.

The GM has made two astute acquisitions: Ryder and the waiver pick-up of Jeff Halpern, who was voted First Star against Carolina.

As has not been the case in recent seasons, Canadiens fans should trust the general manager to make the right moves.

It might mean doing nothing … and that would be fine.

 

 

292 Comments

  1. govenah says:

    Look at our team:
    Untouchables
    Plek, Patch, Ryder, Gallagher, Chucky, Eller, Halpern, Prust

    and
    Subban, Markov, jorges, Emelin, boullion, (and Tinordi and Beaulieu)

    So that leaves
    touchables of Gionta, white, moen, deharnais, blunden,
    and
    Weber, Kaberle, Pateryn,

    And prospects like , Louis Leblanc, Bournival, Holland, St Denis,

    I am on the fence about Bourque.

    Does it make sense to try to up grade any of these touchables by combining, 2 for 1 and maybe adding as much as a second rounder?

  2. HabFanInT.O says:

    If Diaz won’t be playoff ready, I want MB to get us help on D. The price can’t be that high for a 5 or 6 defenceman who can log 10+ minutes and drop the gloves against the pests from Toronto or Boston.

  3. MassHabsFan says:

    Bergeron dealt to Carolina thank god. Any Chance Habs go after Mcbain or Streit? Would love Pominville or Clowe but price is high and is probably gonna be bidding war with Bruins.

  4. Newf_Habster says:

    Any updates on Armstrong’s injury? How long will he miss?

    • Failstonegotiatecontact says:

      Am new to this board but have been lurking for years! Anyone else think that Armstrong was playing a strong game before being taken out?

      • govenah says:

        Welcome to HIO Failstonegotiatecontact! Yes, he was playing better but I still think we need an upgrade on him. We need someone a little more ready to hit and stick up for team mates. A little more scoring prowess would also be of benefit.

  5. joeybarrie says:

    Pominville would be AWESOME.
    A great addition. MB wont risk the future for him, so if he could pull something like that off. We would be golden.
    I would risk draft picks. Cause we are looking pretty good there.
    But a potential 30 goal scorer. Probably wants more than we can give.

    • 2mins4lookinsooogood says:

      Also has one year left at 5.5, i.e. so he cuts in to your cap next year and you have to decide if you want him and afford him beyond that but it definitely means he is the “replacement” for Ryder next year.

      “Don’t crush that dwarf Alex Henry, hand me the pliers”

  6. Hobie Hansen says:

    Another reason to get a defenseman. I was watching Carolina on the PP last night and they swarmed Markov and Emelin. Price barley got a glove on Semin’s shot in tight. It would have been a 2-2 game at that point and who knows what the outcome would have been.

    I love the team, I’d be happy to roll the dice with what we’ve got but our odds of succeeding would greatly improve by adding a big defenseman and lessening Markov’s even strength and removing his PK time all together.

  7. dhenry1234 says:

    I’ve wanted Scott Hartnell to be a Canadien for a long time. He’s a character player than can up the toughness to the team, and also score some clutch goals. Our current team has a lot of Character, so I think that Hartnell would really fit in.

    Anyone think that there’s a chance that he could ever be a Hab?

  8. Chris1138 says:

    Tampa Bay is holding Marc-Andre Bergeron out of practice today – expected to be traded today. Somewhere Timo is smiling.

    –| Brad Marchand | Starley Cup Chanpiar 2011 |–

  9. Old Bald Bird says:

    I find myself more in agreement with the “stay the course” folk than the “load up folk.” Perhaps that’s because I don’t think this team has the right mix to survive four rounds, and I don’t think an addition or two will do it.

    Someone wrote below that this team always falls short in the playoff because they lack toughness. That may be true, but it could be that they have fallen short because they simply haven’t been good enough. In any case, THIS team has yet to fall short as it is not the same team as recent groups.

    There is also the idea that it might be a good idea to see how the team, as presently constituted, does in the playoffs. That might give management a better idea of needs.

    One more thing for those who say Beaulieu and Tinordi aren’t ready. You are probably right, but this is about the time that PK was brought up in his first year, and he didn’t do too badly.

  10. scott9002ca says:

    I had a thought last night. We signed Halpern to help with faceoffs and penalty kill, but why is that we didn’t give Nokia even a chance at that before sending him to the minors?

    Also, on D, we shouldn’t forget we still have Kaberle, for all the money he makes he’s still a decent defensemen (albeit overpaid). There’s also Weber. I think we’ll be fine on D.

    Anyways, I really really like how we’re bringing guys up to give them some NHL experience, so if they’re required in the playoffs we’ll know who we can count on (Basically all three defensemen were outstanding in my opinion).

  11. RockinRey says:

    Dont care if its a tweak like Robidas, Jagr, Pominville, O’byrne . But dont give away any of 1st or second.

    Dump some of the prospects and the 3rd rounder if you can. Otherwise MB should channel his inner Bob Gainey and stand pat.

  12. Mattyleg says:

    Ah, well good morning friends.

    You know what I thought as I drifted into a restful slumber last night?

    Our team has won a crapload of games this year.

    Last season, I remember looking back at a few years previously when we’d won the East, and thought “man, I can’t even remember what it felt like to win games on a regular basis.” Well you know what? Now I remember.

    And it feels gooooood.

    —Hope Springs Eternal—

    • Loonie says:

      Don’t get me wrong I love the winning too. But wins hide weaknesses that would be elephants in the room with a lesser record.

      I’m tired of watching this team get bounced out of the playoffs because our defensemen don’t have the jam to keep dudes out of Price’s grill.

      The large majority don’t want a trade because they’re fearful of parting with some of the future. But what if the future is now and you can bring in a guy who can cure a lot of what ails you?

      I say don’t be afraid, make that deal and put your team in the best possible position to bring the Cup home.

      • Kooch7800 says:

        I somewhat agree but I do think MB has addressed the faceoffs with the addition of Halpern. he has fit in much better has a hab then when he was in NY.

        Also, don’t forget the Cole trade for Ryder addressing the right handed shot on the PP and it has paid dividends. If we get Bourque back I think we have enough up front to give it a shot.

        Some depth on the back end would be nice but it really depends on what is available.

        “Keep your stick on the Ice”

      • Hobie Hansen says:

        Couldn’t agree with you more Loonie. I’d be stunned if they go three or four rounds with the feeble defense they have now. Less PPs in the playoffs as well!

        Love the team., love the ride so far, but we need another defenseman for sure!

        Trade 2 second round picks and we’re still left with a first and second!

      • Mattyleg says:

        Wins always hide weaknesses.
        As long as we keep winning, our weaknesses will stay hidden.

        Do you think that the team that wins the Stanley Cup is completely watertight, and doesn’t have players that are just along for the ride, or who are weak in one or more areas of their game?

        Of course not, but a team that knows each other well will know how to support each other.

        This is why I’m wary of signing a rental -especially a d-man- for the playoffs. Therrien’s ‘Total Hockey’ means that everyone picks up after everyone else, both on attack and defence, and if there is an unknown quantity, players won’t know how to support them.

        I’m not afraid of a trade because of what we might lose, I’m afraid of a trade because of what we might lose by ‘gaining’.

        —Hope Springs Eternal—

      • 2mins4lookinsooogood says:

        I don’t mind trading anyone of the drafts/prospects if it is the right deal but how much can you accomplish?

        You have been very consistent that you feel past playoff losses were due partly to other teams being able to push the Habs defense back. While i personally think the issue was more complicated and was part of the “systeme” of Carbo/JM where everyone collapsed in a shell around the goaltender (aka everybody in the frame), if we accept your premise, how many defencemen are you going to repace?

        One top 4 player will at best play 22 minutes a game and that leaves almost no time for your third line group, which I expect would include Gorges and Bouillion.

        Will that one player really correct the problem you see? Or are you looking at bringing in a 25 minute man as well …

        I saw the Bruins with their top 4 struggle to keep the Habs out of the crease last week – all teams have this problem and I don’t buy that the Habs are going to be at such a great risk now or able to remove the risk by getting one player.

        “Don’t crush that dwarf Alex Henry, hand me the pliers”

  13. habstrinifan says:

    All I wanna say is Jiri Lusty!

  14. Loonie says:

    Stan Bowman gets a lot of credit in Chicago and most of it’s due. But after having watched the majority of Sharks games this season I believe very strongly that he made a poor decision in adding Handzus.

    Whether it was the Sharks, his role or other circumstances, he hasn’t looked like an NHL player at all. I mentioned a couple of weeks ago that I thought his career was over and saw waivers in his immediate future.

    I was certainly wrong about that, hopefully for the Blackhawks’ sake I’m wrong about his career being over too.

  15. 2mins4lookinsooogood says:

    So you have a bunch of prospects, particularly at D and your first round pick is probably going to be around 24 – 27, plus 2 2nd rounders that will go 35 – 45 and yours at 55. No worries about this year’s cap but next year you have 9 million? and need t replace/resign Ryder (minimum 4.5 ask) and still sign the lower end of your team – approx 5 players?

    Right now, you are expecting a top 6 forward back and are unsure if you get your Brian Rafalski back … what do you do?

    Bear in mind that controllable players with favourable cap hits are worth far more than pricey UFAs.

    “Don’t crush that dwarf Alex Henry, hand me the pliers”

  16. steve29 says:

    Lots of organizations are right now throwing tons of money at d-men who can’t even tie PK ‘s skates so that answer doesn’t make any sense to me.

  17. kalevine says:

    It occurs to me that one of the differences with the current team management and the management of the last few years was how the coaches used to get a bee in their bonnet about certain players, those players would sit, and GM would solve it by getting rid of the players rather than getting the parties to work out their differences. I was worried that would happen with Subban, knowing how much Therrien picked on him last year on L’Antichambre, but they appear to have built a working relationship. He may still not like PK for all I know or care, but he is giving him the time and space that PK merits. I suspect that’s going on everywhere in the organization. Common goals first, egos second (or maybe 4th)

  18. frontenac1 says:

    Tom the Bomb.I’ve never seen him win a fight and yet he always gives it a go.Poor bugger.

    • Lafleurguy says:

      Same size as Prust but not near the fighting skills. Very tough way to make a living, even at NHL pay scales.

      “May you live in interesting times.”

    • Phil C says:

      I remember years ago you would see hockey fights where the guys would just stand there trading punches. Nowadays, too many guys know how to punch so if you try to trade punches while not protecting your chin, you’ll end up like Tom the Bomb.

  19. kirk_is_work says:

    Had whites at the game last night. Corner opposite the benches, Carolina end. Decent tickets at cost, off of the Habs official vault site. First time in a couple years. I’d like to share some observations.

    I’m glad that the Habs have a helmet on policy for the warm-up. It’s a good idea with all the concussions.

    The presentation of the game felt a lot less commercial than previous trips to the Bell Centre. Although, beer was still ridiculously expensive ($11). Not sure how they make any money ;). Also, the music was more rock, and less rap and pop than before. Makes me think that maybe the players have some say, or that marketing people surveyed fans over the years, and got rid of some of that $^#@ they used to play. I sound like Jack Todd but he did have a point. The new lighting system was incredible. The ice was simply vibrant. The puck was as clear as I’ve ever seen it. Great upgrade.

    Faceoffs. What are wrong with these linesmen? They just kill the flow of the game. Dare I say it but Don Cherry is right on this. Maybe they should consider a rule change to accelerate this process. As for the officiating, it was pretty good for the most part aside a couple non-call boarding checks but they let them play.

    On the Canes end. Peters had a good game for the most part. His team hung him out to dry, in the first period especially but he was well positioned, sharp, and concentrated. Eric Staal was bad, period. Semin was not as bad and it’s funny to say but at least he tried hard. Jordan Staal is a great PKer but we all know this. The Hurricanes’ D is nothing special. The Habs forecheck ate them for lunch several times for long periods. I would not trade for anyone on that blueline.

    As far as the Habs. Not PK’s best overall game but with Beaulieu in, couldn’t really sit him for a while. Some bad passing decisions, penalties, as he lost his temper in the 2nd. He was clearly a target though so I think the team needs to protect him more. Colby got unlucky in that collision (completely accidental I should add), which is really too bad because he’s been playing some excellent 4th line hockey, and showing why he was a 20+ goalscorer at one point. Galchenyuk barely played, likely due to special teams, which is a shame because I was looking forward to seeing some more of him. I suspect that it could be he’s nursing an injury. Also, his knee is still recovering (18 month total process for an ACL reconstruction) and he likely has to treat it continuously.

    On the whole, it was a fairly sloppy game for the Habs after the first, by far the best period. Despite the goal, lots of icings, some poor outlet passes (Subban, Bouillon, Beaulieu to name a few). Carolina really tried to break up the flow. and I thought it was going to get scrappy but they just didn’t find that intensity. Halpern and Pacioretty did, Price played well, and that’s why we won! So, some people on this site may disagree but it’s the sign of a good team when you’re pulling out W’s even when you’re not at your best!


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