About last night …

CupTourists

The Stanley Cup was in Montreal on Wednesday.
Just visiting.
The Cup was in some photographs with lucky fans.
It was a guest on L’Antichambre.
Had a great time.
Might not be back for a while.

Too pessimistic?

Maybe so.

During an incredibly hokey segment on L’Antichambre, they sat the Stanely Cup in one of the show’s trademark blue chairs. Then a voice off camera, speaking for the Cup, said: “Je suis à Montréal aujourd’hui. J’aimerais bien y passer l’été.”

Translation: “I’m in Montreal today. I’d really like to spend the summer here.”

Cute.

And not impossible. As the season wound down in 1986, the Canadiens lost six straight games. Then they won three of their last four, and the rest is history.

The 1985-’86 Canadiens that couldn’t buy a W in mid-March won often enough in April and May to get the players’ names on the trophy that was on RDS Wednesday night.

Your 2013 Montreal Canadiens will be playing hockey in May. And if they go on to win their final game of the postseason, nobody will be talking about three embarrassing regular-season losses, the latest of which went down in Pittsburgh Wednesday night.

There’s still time to turn this around. The Canadiens have five regular-season games left to transform themselves back into the team that was so good for so much of the season.

Maybe the Big Shiny Thing will be back in June. Stranger things have happened.

But I think I speak for most fans … at least, most rational fans … in stating a truth that is becoming self-evident: This ain’t the year.

The Canadiens are a mess.

A team that gave up 16 first-period goals in the first 40 games has been lit up for eight in the last three.

The last time goaltenders were pulled in three consecutive starts was in October, 2001. Their names were José Theodore, Jeff Hackett and Mathieu Garon.

Carey Price was supposed to have a night off in Pittsburgh. He could relax, watch his capable backup and get ready to face Tampa Bay at the Bell Centre on Thursday night.

Instead, Price came on in relief of Budaj. He played 40 minutes, allowed three goals and was charged with the loss.

Great confidence builder.

But you can’t hang the loss on goaltending. Patrick Roy, who became the youngest-ever winner of the  Conn Smythe Trophy in 1986, would age from 20 to 40 in 60 minutes playing behind this team.

On the evidence of what we saw Wednesday night, the Canadiens miss Raphael Diaz, Alexei Emelin, Colby Armstrong and Ryan White more than the Penguins miss Sidney Crosby, Evgeni Malkin, James Neal and Paul Martin.

Cup contenders?

I don’t effing think so.

And please, spare me the second-guessing about Marc Bergevin’s inaction at the trade deadline.

Yes, Pittsburgh general manager Ray Shero loaded up for a Cup run. But he paid dearly for Jarome Inginla, Brenden Morrow and Douglas Murray.

Watching the Rangers in Philadelphia, did you think Ryan Clowe will be bringing the Cup to New York?

Bergevin made a sage assessment of his team’s Stanley Cup chances. And the GM decided – even before the Emelin injury that has thrown the D corps into chaos – that it wasn’t worth mortgaging the future for a couple Band-Aids.

Did you like Alex Galchenyuk’s sick shelf daddy in Pittsburgh?

That’s the future. And here’s a radical notion to get the Commentariat dusting off their “Boone is an idiot” daggers:

If what we’re watching is the real Montreal Canadiens, I’m halfway sorry the collapse didn’t happen sooner. That way, the team could have stumbled and bumbled into a lottery pick and the chance to draft another Galchenyuk.

OK, that’s crazy talk.

We’ve had a great season of hockey in Montreal, cheering a courageous, well-coached team that as recently as 10 days ago was challenging for the Eastern Conference lead, three points behind Pittsburgh with a game in hand.

So what happened?

The Emelin injury was a killer. Andrei Markov hasn’t been the same since his D partner went down, and the Canadiens have lost four of the five games they’ve played without the hard-hitting Russian.

With Diaz still out, there’s no depth on the blueline.

Does Davis Drewiske play 19:50 on a bona-fide Cup aspirant? Yannick Weber, whose season had consisted of 17 minutes, 52 seconds over two games, played 16:49 in Pittsburgh.

And Weber was on for only one Penguins goal. Josh Gorges was on for four.

The Canadiens’ D is a shambles, and the forwards aren’t helping. Where is the system that had five skaters hunting in packs, bottling opponents up in their own end, forcing turnovers?

Has a physically small team run out of gas?

What if they had to play 82 games? Maybe we’d be looking forward to drafting Jonathan Drouin.

Marc Bergevin is a smart guy who came to the Canadiens from a great organization in Chicago. He hired first-rate people – Rick Dudley, Scott Mellanby – for the front office. Acting decisively to change the culture of a losing team, Bergevin didn’t let Scott Gomez as much as lace-up in a practice jersey.

Canadiens management knows what they’ve got here: a team that isn’t as good as its first 40 games or as bad as its last three.

Your Montreal Canadiens are a work in progress. There are some very nice elements in place, but this team does not have the organizational depth that withstands injuries to superstars and allows shopping sprees on trade deadline day.

So let’s all take a deep breath and thanks the Stanley Cup for dropping by.

Y’all come back soon.

• The Bruins got it right:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oq-Ut4gH1fc

 

435 Comments

  1. habstrinifan says:

    Glad to see the discusssion on Charles Hudon started by Loonie’s post. I remember having an HIO one on one with our draft guru, Commandant, prior to the 2012 draft. Based on all my readings, I was very hopeful that he would be drafted by the HABS, which of course he was in the 5th round.

    He is seriously small and not possessing a stocky physique like Gallagher. But if he is smart enough and dedicated enough to reshape his physique through weight training etc then he has all the other tools to be a superb NHL, despite his size right now.

    I am gonna lay odds that if Hudon develops into a more sturdy physique, he will not only play for the HABS but has a great chance of wearing a LETTER for them. You heard it here first!

    Unfortunately, if he doesnt appyl himself to the task of adding the muscle mass that he needs, then I think all bets are off.

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  3. nek25plus says:

    Ah yes, Boone is an interesting character…that’s all there is to say about that. The team has been painful in the last three games, but all will be well. (Marc Andre Fleury DID let in 4 goals by a team many have deemed a train wreck!?) And if not, they they have already surpassed 99% of most peoples expectations.

    If they get back to the team game, calm steady and efficient we’ll be good to go for a round or two. So enjoy it people.

    Let’s stop berating Price or whoever is the goat du jour, and all will be well! See you back on the bandwagon, the weather is fine!

    Go Habs Go!


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