So they lost. Big deal.

The following is for lovers of Les Glorieux.

If you don’t know who that is, this is where you get off.

If you feel the need at some point to mention my bias toward the team, my simple reply is no shit, Magnum, I’m a friggin’ Habs fan. This is probably going to show some bias toward my team for the entire thing and if that turns you off, this too is your stop.

Now, for those of you still reading, let me start by start saying I have absolutely no ill feelings about losing out Wednesday night. The Boston Bruins beat the Montreal Canadiéns fair and square — more or less — and that’s that.

I could easily be pissed off beyond imagination. But I’m not.

I could talk the whole summer about the non-called throat spear blatantly missed by yet another reffing crew with better things to do than a good job and how the no-name, coat-tail-riding dipshit who did it then skated about nine strides and scored the go-ahead goal.

But I won’t.

I could talk about how much karma owes this franchise after every last one of them kept their mouths shut in the media all season, while any Bruin with a mic drifting near the gravitational pull of their oversized noses couldn’t wait to tell the world why they should hate the Habs.

But I don’t feel like bellyaching.

Besides, what’s the point? There’s no doubt it’s not supposed to go like it did, but what can we do? Of course Zdeno Chara should be in traction somewhere with pins in his tree-trunk femurs. Of course Dr. Recchi’s aging hips should shatter upon impact. Of course Milan Lucic and Nathan Horton should be refrozen and sent back to Paleolithic times so they can be with their families. And of course there should be a North American-wide cereal-box vote to find out which one of Brad Marchand and Andrew Ferrence is the bigger dickhead.

But none of that happened.

So now what? Should we have another summer of self-destructive insults toward management and whining about this player or that player from Habs fans? Not from this camp.

The Canadiéns weren’t done shaking hands yet and I was already thinking about next year. But, unlike much of the media/pundit/commentariut circuit out there, I am not going to use a bunch of paranoid clichés regarding Pierre Gauthier’s list of needs and holes he must address while staying within the cap, blah, blah, blah.

First of all, he already has a proven track record of making great moves, despite the difficulty and pressure behind his decisions at the time. In fact, there’s not a single move he’s made in his short time that wasn’t good for the club.

Secondly, and I say this with as much objectivity as a fan of this degree can have, the Montreal Canadiéns can, without question, contend for the Stanley Cup and not bring in a single player from outside the organization. If you think I’m retarded, whatever. I was also retarded last year when I said Carey Price was a stud.

Barring those pesky health ups-and-downs that end up dictating the outcome for every team, every year, people will be using that ‘contender’ word by Christmas.

Let’s start in goal.

Carey Price. Moving on.

The blue line.

I don’t know exactly how many GMs would need to excuse themselves for a five-minute ‘potty’ break upon being presented with the following list of potential defensemen. But it’s a lot.

PK Subban, Andrei Markov, Josh Gorges, James Wisniewski, Hal Gill, Yannick Weber, Roman Hamrlik, Brent Sopel, Jaroslav Spacek, Paul Mara, Alexandre Picard, Brendan Nash, Mathieu Carle, Alex Henry.

I don’t give a crap if there are a few on there you don’t like, that list is gross. If Subban, Markov, Gorges, Wisniewski, Gill and Hamrlik/Sopel/Spacek are the top-six next year that’s maybe the best group in the league. Weber as No. 7? Can you say Mark Streit? It’s coming out in him more and more…

But even if the utopian blue line couldn’t work because of salaries, there’s no way Gauthier loses out on the absolute musts, which in my opinion are PK (already signed), Gorges, the Wiz and Gill. Who cares about the bottom pairing if that’s the top-four?

I love Markov beyond how much one dude should feel about another dude but if he wants too much coin, I think Gauthier should reluctantly let him go. Of course, he’ll probably come back and kill the Habs with his new team but his injuries have earned the club a free pass to not over-invest in him.

Anyway it plays out — pending unforeseen Erik Johnson golf-cart accidents — the Habs will have a very formidable defense crew next season and all they have to worry about is protecting the 2014 starting goaltender for Team Canada. Sick.

The forwards.

There is no question this will remain the team’s X-factor, as goal scoring will be the difference between another sixth-place finish and a No. 1 or 2 seed. Since the big money will obviously be spent on the blue line and at least ready-to-be-spent on Price, there isn’t likely going to be much room left for that coveted — doesn’t exist anyway — power winger everyone is always in a huff about.

But that’s OK, as much as I thought I’d never say this, I’d happily resign Andrei Kostitsyn. I know he doesn’t go stand in front of the net, but he’s really the only true size the top six has. Without AK, they just get smaller. ‘That big guy’ isn’t out there and even if he is, he’s not going to come at the same price AK will.

Kostitsyn won’t cost a dime more than he already does and when you look back at his season, it wasn’t all that bad. His 45 points in 81 games isn’t noteworthy by any stretch but it did come while being flip-flopped from line-to-line all season, mostly in the bottom six, and when he was in the top six it was to replace an injured player.

If he had a full season with Mike Cammalleri and Thomas Plekanec, they would all have higher point totals than this season. It’s not among the best, but it’s a pretty good top line , anchored by Mike ‘I’m-disgustingly-good-in-the-playoffs’ Cammalleri and centred by Selke-light. Works for me.

Scott Gomez sucks. What-in-the-hell-ever.

If you’re still hung up on it, you’re a tool. They can’t go back in time and not get him and even if they did I don’t think anyone would love the Kovalev-Higgins tandem on the first line with Pleks, as Cammalleri and Gionta would be playing for the expansion Anywhere-but-Montreals right now.

So he’s here. Oh well.

The good news is Captain Gionta and Motivation Max will make him a 50-point player again by default and the second line will be just fine.

As for the third and fourth lines, I’m not sure who will make up the combinations but I know Travis Moen and Larry Eller will be there and that makes me feel all kinds of happy.

Toss in a possible side of David Desharnais, Ryan White, Mathieu Darche and Tom ‘everybody-should-LOVE-this-kid’ Pyatt and I’ll start taking divisional bets with Bruins fans right now because that O-fer they just put up on the PP for seven games is a trend that will only continue.

The Montreal Canadiéns were absolutely decimated by injuries and a healthy Boston Bruins needed seven games, three over-time goals and one of the shittiest no-calls ever in order to get passed them. The season series still ended 7-6 Montreal.

What do you think that record would look like if this was the Habs lineup next year:

Cammalleri         Plekanec            Kostitsyn

Pacioretty            Gomez                Gionta

Moen                    Eller                     Darche

Pyatt                     Desharnais         White

Subban            Gill

Markov            Gorges

Wisniewski            Spacek (sorry, but he’s signed), Weber

Price

Take into account the experience, leadership, camaraderie and off-the-charts level of motivation this group would have next season and only a fool would see them anywhere but on top of the Northeast Division, a position they were only three-and-a-half wins away from earning this year.

This team learned something about itself and about the rest of the league’s perception of them this season and it will be entering its third season together. I guarantee a fire will burn in the pit of the stomach of every player on that roster all summer long and when the season starts, the rest of the conference had better be ready.

Because the Montreal Canadiéns will be a force and despite what you can say about their size, when force meets this type of unity and motivation, no one wants to be in the way.

Especially Team Poo. I mean Boston.

13 Responses to “So they lost. Big deal.”

  1. Laura Kenney Says:

    Great analysis although I believe there will be some changes in the off season. And Spacek unfortunately will not be bought out – at least I would not – I would suck it up for a year to save the cap hit from going 2 years – Georges Laraque is still on our cap until the end of next year.

  2. campattendant Says:

    Perfect!

    • Vlad the Hab Says:

      Scottie,

      Loved the analysis…..now we are 2 months past that date. Things have changed for good or bad on our team. How do you feel now before we enter F/A on the moves that PG has made to date – pre & Post draft?

      Habs Rule – oh hell yes!

  3. Vlad the Hab Says:

    I like some of your analysis but we really have to look at the big picture here. Not only next year and the years to come. We have PK & Price to re-sign next summer along with Eller to start off with. We cannot continue to mortgage the future of the TEAM with bad contracts. So ship both Gomex and Spacek to Hamilton and get them off the payroll. This will allow alot more flexibility with the roster. It will also allow for adding a better piece of quality on the D-line and up front we can add some size & more grit and scoring than what is in the offing now between Gomez & Pouliot. Additionally, there is also the opportunity to look at potential partners in trades for AK. I really do think he’s reached his best for before date. He his on repeat cycle and we continually make excuses for his play and lack of results. When it mattered most in these 7 games he was invisible EXCEPT for his untimely and lazy penalties. While no goals were scored against us they more than tired out players like Gill and Subban that looged extra “hard” time killing these dumb penalties that were needless. I know I’m being hard on him but the return from him was next to nil in the series.
    The one thing you did not metion in your column was coaching. It all appears certain that we will be losing Capt. Kirk. This will be 2 yrs. in a row that a top flight Head Coaching candidate is lost to another club….Guy Boucher to Tampa Bay ( 2nd round playoff – 1-0 lead over Wash). Do we really want to go another year of sit back on our ass and let the goalie do all the work for the team. Be proud that we were 28th in league scoring at 2.1 goals per game. Wasn’t our legend “Fire-Brand hockey”? Or do you enjoy the current style of hoping the other team makes a mistake, kill off another league leading “Too Many men on the Ice penalty”, hope our PP doesn’t get to fancy and we get a goal from a Cammi or Subban one timer? I’m tired of being shut out 3-0 – what about 5x this year. Can’t we start winning games on a regular basis 6-1 and have regular 6 or 10 game winning streaks vs 2-1 games and 4-5 game streaks or win 2…lose 2 and so on? I just think it would be great to see now that JM got his 600th win….time to move upstairs and let Capt. Kirk get a shot at moving the Team forward before we lose out on this opportunity.

    Anyways, thanks for aallowing me to express myself on your forum and look forward to your comments. Cheers!

    • OK, first let me say there isn’t much you said I don’t ‘technically’ agree with but one thing is FOR SURE about what you’re asking for: It’s pipe dreams at best, my friend. I just don’t see the need to discuss to no end all these things that won’t in a million years happen. Spacek and Gomez to Hamilton? Whether you believe this is right is highly irrelevant, as it just won’t happen.
      I don’t spend the summer playing GM like other writers/bloggers/fans. Unlike Apron Basu I don’t actually believe I know more than management or coaching. What I do know is how negative Habs fans are notorious for being and how they ALWAYS have someone they want cut/fired/killed. If fans would like to play GM, I think it would be a lot easier if they attempted to stay within the confines of reality.
      That’s why I use disclaimers like “barring injury” or “if this can’t work because of salaries,” because there are just so many variables with this stuff.
      Fans don’t think past their passion so they get angry over things like keeping Price over Halak, or letting Dominic Moore walk, or Boucher or Kostitsyn-lite. You can’t deny the camaraderie in that room nor can you deny the importance of it. Yet like so many others, you’re clearly not interested in giving some of that credit to coaching. I agree they sit back too much, but this team doesn’t dominate 6-1 like you’d like because they aren’t forward-heavy enough for it, not because they don’t coach it. You don’t try and offensively pound teams because this group is clearly defensive-strong.
      Should they scrap ‘em all and rebuild completely? Finish last a bunch first? With a team one goal away from their second trip to second round in as many years? With a team that was 7 measly points from a division crown and had No. 1 and No. 2 D-men on shelf for 50+ games? With a team who’s top point-getter over a 20-game period had his neck broke just as the team was gaining serious momentum? Neck broken in a game they were absolutely monkey stomping a Cup contender in? One that could have easily finished 6-1 just like you want?
      Vlad, please.
      You put Boucher in charge of this team, and Carey is just under more fire power than before because this team is built from the goal, out. Tampa is built from the out, in. Yes they are still playing but one bounce different and they are out too. One bounce different and the Habs are still playing.
      Should they fire JM because a puck deflected off Halpern’s skate and now they’re golfing? Should we go beg for Boucher to come back because his club was able to get past a Crosby and Malkin-less Penguins?
      Fact: When they played the system they were told to play and played it well, they won nearly all the time. When they got out of what makes them successful, they lost by a touchdown.
      You can’t just have Stamkos talent to send out because you wish it. The Habs have what they have and PG has to work with that. I simply pointed out how he can win his division without changing the team, which they most definitely can.
      I call for things like resigning AK or letting Markov walk because it’s logical under the circumstances this team has to work within. A fan with too much passion always wants to ship people to Hamilton and fire coaches. Eller specifically said Gomez was instrumental for his maturity this year. Not one of the 30 GMs would come in to Montreal and ship Gomez to the minors. Not one.
      Stay passionate, my friend, just don’t get so invested in hashing out moves you’ll never see come to fruition. That’s just a fast track to misery bro.
      Go Habs. Try it, it’s fun! ;-)

      • Also…
        I would LOVE Muller at the helm, no doubt about it. But I don’t believe in firing people who don’t really deserve it. In any job. If JM wants to move up to the front office and let Cpt. Kirk coach, I’m for it. But if JM wants to coach, he’s coaching.
        The big picture is always what will actually happen, Vlad. Not what we would love to see in our dreams.

      • Vllad the Hab Says:

        Scott; Thx for your thoughtful reply. I appreciate it all. I do admit that I am a very emotional Hab fan as I do want the boys to bring the Cup home again & a repeat would be wonderful.
        So let me retort to some of your counters there my friend. Hamilton…..its actually not a bad place…..and an opportunity to see the boys when we’re in Toronto and Buffalo. Seriously, no other GMs stashing guys down in the A??? Well sather put his big FA d-Men from ottawa(sorry his name escapes me…..you know…the guy they built the franchise around instead of Chara), Edmonton put our good buddy Sheldon down there and teased everyone they were going to bring him up at the trade deadline but didn’t. Toronto put that 1-Finger guy across town to the Marlies and Chicago a-ok’d our other old buddy Cris Huet right out of the continent. So….the path has been broken.
        PLAYING STYLE: yes we our playing the 5 man deep to cover the goalie. So when we are in the other end we only put 2 men deep and are always looking to go south to our end vs. pushing hard in their end. Didn’t you get tired of watching those idiot B’s skate around our end on the 5 on 5’s and you’d think we were killing a penalty. Thats the type of pressure I want our tean to execute on our oposition. I know what you say about JM and his success. Well we didn’t get as far this year did we? Excuses? Yah….but isn’t that what LOSERS use. If you are so bound and determined to cut Markov astray….really how valuable was he going to be with us coming back from last year’s surgery? Let’s just say he survived after Game 9 or whatever it was. Would he have really been the guy we really used too think he was? This guy has had injuries his whole career? I’m not saying he wasn’t talented but I think Gorges injury was more significant to the team. If he stayed afloat and if JM hadn’t lost patience with … please forgive me…the big guy we shipped to Colarado where he immediately got to play in their top 4. We would have been fine. The Wiz acquistion covered off Markov and our D was soild and no other moves necessary. The other thing that stirs a burr in my side is the “patience factor” JM has with his lines or the 2-3-4 lines. Okay…you didn’t score that shift —“Let me look in my book here….Options: sit next shift, go to pressbox next game, change 1 winger, change both wingers, change centre, change centre + 1 winger, change whole line, sit for period while I mull it over again……” No wonder guys don’t get any chemistry, why they can’t get their passes to work because they don’t know each others moves, the list goes on….exhaustively. That my friend is why we need stability…..as I said before….JM never got to the promised land with a much more talented Ottawa team. With a less talented team BUT much better goalie he still is not going to get there. So let’s make the change.

        Lastly, back to Hamilton…remember we are talking serious $$$$$’s here my friend. Do we want to be able to attract some good F/A’s here. Wouldn’t it be nice to throw down an offer sheet to a prised talent? Of course my “dream” was that when Sid became an FA we’d be there at 12:01am and have that blank contract with whatever you want on it. Now who know if he will ever play yet wear our colours. Anyways back to my thread….its not dreaams….its looking outside the box. Just becasue everybody and Brian Burke does it this way its okay….doesn’t mean we have to be followers…..why not be a trailblazer for once when it reaaly counts.

        Cheers!!

      • OK, very quickly. I didn’t say GMs don’t send big contracts to the AHL. I said no one would send Gomer. Reasons everyone wants to send him down: He makes WAY too much money, doesn’t do anything offensively and makes periodic costly defensive errors. These are GREAT reasons, no one can argue that. However, reasons why NO ONE who understands all that needs to be understood would send the guy to Hamilton without giving him another shot at redemption first: He’s truly not far removed from being an all-star. There is a decent history of him being a big gamer, some of that even as a Hab to a certain extent but most importantly, and what I believe to be the true catalyst behind him remaining with the big club for now is his personality and what he brings to the dressing room. Sure, you, other fans and certainly the narrow minded media of Montreal can look at him and think he’s just a cocky, joke-telling apathetic dik. But I’m telling you beyond any shadow of a doubt that his teammates really like him. The veterans respect him and the young guys look up to him. I’m not sure I understand why that’s so either, Vlad, so don’t ask. But what I can tell you is that it’s enough of a chemistry thing that coaches an management won’t try and mess with it until they absolutely have to. And contrary to what you or anyone else may believe, that day hasn’t arrived. As I already stated very clearly with my blog, they can sign who they need to sign to be a contender without searching the other rosters, which allows them to have so much stock in the chemistry factor. I personally like that position.
        As for this year and losing out, who’s making excuses?? I simply said don’t flip out, it was the difference of one bounce one way or the other. And that’s absolutely true. Montreal fans love to hate someone/everyone after a loss, hell they do it after preseason losses for cryin’ out loud. That doesn’t make it right. This blog has and always will be a place of reason and reality. That’s why I don’t discuss what just won’t happen. No matter how much you wish for it. I call it pipe dreams, you call it thinking outside the box. Yeah, well tomato, tomato bud, end of the day it’s still stuff that won’t happen. I have no idea what you were getting at with that end comment about Brian Burke… So I can’t respond.
        But you truly lost me with the O’Byrne nonsense. The only reason I’m even taking the time to reply to someone wanting to go there is because you’re very polite and just expressing opinion, which is very cool. But what just kills me is how every fan who suggests they are creative, ‘outside the box’ thinkers inevitably end up being the ones who just can’t see through their own tunnel vision.
        The NHL is not an Xbox.

  4. I just wanna say…as a very passionate Habs fan to another… I love you. ^_^

    I disagree on a few little details, but the whole jist of your post, I’m with.

    I think the phrase that confused me the most on Twitter was the concept of “fan complacency.” Uhm…what is that? We’re supposed to “demand” more from the management & coaching staff. What?!

    I like to enjoy the game for what it is; cheer for the team no matter who’s on it, leading it, or paying it; and hope for the best. Those unrealisting things like “trade Gomez for Stamkos or Iggy” are just…I have no word for it.

    If people wanna armchair coach, they’re more than welcome. But I get a bit annoyed at being accused of being a complacent fan because I’m happy to cheer for the team the way they are. I didn’t realize I wasn’t sufficiently passionate in fulfilling my “fan” duties.

    Our team did awesome. I think Game 3 almost killed us, and game 5 did kill us. We came back the best we could in Game 6 and were one bounce away in Game 7, but I believe if we took Game 3 more seriously, we’d be in round 2. Which is why I think the healthy version of this team can win us a cup just the way they are (with Patches, Josh, and Markov back in the line). And I still believe Gomez just had a bad year (like several other of our boys) and will snap out of it next year. He might not be worth the $8M that we pay him, but he’s definitely better than what he was this year.

  5. Vllad the Hab Says:

    I have no quaalms with anyone who is a fan of the boys who skate with the Red White & Blue. I’ve been one since 1965 when I saw them win the Cup vs. Chicago and I found my first ido – Jean Beliveau. Today, much older, just as passionate but with an air of “I want them to do better and win it all” in me. So I think you call that frustration in one word. All that behind the scenes stuff that feels like something jammed under your nail….sharply. We’re the only team in Quebec. Who better to scout and know the talent in the junior ranks but us. Well look at all those young guns in the league from La Belle province that aren’t on our team. Because we’re in Belarus looking at some 5’5″ RW or in Sweden to see some 5’7″ defensemen or at New Hamshire High School to see some High School kid again. It just seems like over and over again we don’t have scouts that have heard of the O-H-L, W-H-L and lastly the Q-H-L. Doesn’t that kind of seem wrong or just the picture of watching little DD hustle and play his guts out against every Bruin including CHARA. While we have the famous Belrausian Coaster – AK46….didn’t he know the gun is a 47???…but played like he couldn’t wait to get home for the summer. Thats the kind of passion I have. Frustrate the bejesus out of me that we miss out on so many good local CDN boys who would be proud to wear our colours. Instead we draft so many outsiders who could give a crap to the tradition of the CH family. I don’t say they all play that way. There are exceptions to every rule.
    I hope once again this June we will be very thoughtful of our choices. I believe we are #17 this year.

  6. Scott As a Bruins fan (we won the cup!) I could give two shits about the Habs lineup next year. I do know losing Muller is no good though. I do have to ask though, which missed call you refering too? May I also remind you: #1 Phantom call on Bergeron to end game 7 reg time. I thought you have to get hit with a high stick for the head to snap back. #2 We beat your oh so injured Habs team w/o scoring on the PP. How bad were the Habs? (Your sounding like Gillis) Bob Gainey would never make excuses! #3 Get use to Markov msiing playoffs for another 3 years. See ya soon. Your friend in Hoops
    PS Based on franchise wins by the mighty Habs, 18 years must feel like 54 eh

    • As a Bruins fan, you probably read the first two paragraphs where I made it abundantly clear I couldn’t give two shits what some fan of Team Poo thinks about the Habs lineup. The missed call? Crosscheck to throat on Hamrlik. Blatant and ridiculous, even called so by the jackass HNIC panel who were humping each other off camera after every Bruins goal. #1 – The stick made contact. Fact. Who cares what the player’s head did? Maybe when I see you in the Hat here I’ll slow a replay down enough for your muffled Bruins eyes to catch it. ;-) #2 – How bad was the team who took the Cup champs to OT in Game 7 minus No. 1 D, No. 2 D and a top-six forward? Not bad at all actually, that was the point. Bob didn’t make excuses and neither did I. Again, that was the point. This entire piece was said within a few days of Game 7 as a message to Habs fans to not freak out about losing. To show them their team is just as good as Boston. And they are. And who cares what any biased fan has to say in retort? They played 13 times this season and it finished 7-6 for the Habs. The Habs have owned that franchise for the better part of a century for cryin’ out loud. So when the sun shines on a dog’s ass one year and the Bruins get passed the Habs, I find that little reason to worry. 25-8 in historic playoff series match-ups means I never have to make an excuse after a loss to Boston. Even if their fans get to think differently for a whole summer. Besides the bottom line is, Habs plus Markov, Gorges and Pacioretty wouldn’t have had to get to Game 7, let alone worry about scoring in OT. But that’s OK, because you’ll get a front-row seat to all three next year bud. Which brings me to #3… He’s so shit-your-pants good he’s overwhelmingly well worth the risk. So I guess we’ll just have to wait and see. I wouldn’t worry about No. 79 anyway bud. No. 76 will just continue to light your team up as he did in his rookie campaign. No matter how much your dressing room sheds tears in the media over him being mean to them on the ice. Boo hoo :-(
      Thanks for the comments bud! Lol
      PS – How is that even supposed to be insulting? You alluding to the gross number of Cups the boyz have won just makes me smile ear-to-ear bud!

      • campattendant Says:

        Lol …. They only get to talk smart every 35 yrs or so … poor little bumblebee asshats! I guess we will have to let them enjoy themselves till October … they will be senile the next time it happens … good stuff Shmitzy!

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