CFN – Have you ever looked at a menu in a restaurant; been hooked on a dish, but then after ordering and eating it were kinda left wondering; “Is that all”? Not that there wasn’t enough food or that it wasn’t good enough. It’s just that the magic that enticed you didn’t translate into the final result.
To me that’s the Habs first half this year. The team is 24 14 4 as I write this with 109 goals for versus 98 against. A +11 margin.
They’re 11th overall in the NHL with 52 points. 20th in goals for; 6th in goals against. 11th in differential. 7th in road wins.
Yet there’s something missing; something I can’t put my finger on. I want to say the team is underperforming, yet…. they have improved from the first quarter report card.
Please note grades are for this quarter chiefly.
GM & Coach
The gild is quickly fading on GM & Coach Michel Therrien; more so of Bergevin who keeps giving out contracts that make no fiscal sense or quickly become un trade-able. Will David Desharnais hit the 60 point mark per season to make his contract palatable? Does it make sense to use up Galchenyuk’s early years of eligibility so Desharnais can get his ice time? Why the big rush to sign Emelin? The whole Daniel Briere situation and Max Pacioretty trade rumors?
This is starting to feel like Reggie Houle time and that’s scary seeing as how critical some where of the Bob Gainey era….
As for Therrien….it’s unfair for me to judge as I’m just not a fan of the coach. I tend to turn off when he gives press bites. I mean really; the team was tired at the All Star Break? Blech.
Bergevin C- Therrien C+
Centres: Tomas Plekanec – Is forced to do the heavy lifting for Montreal and getting the toughest assignments. Is shooting more and is on pace for 25 goals; but less than 50 points which makes sense with the rotating wingers he has. What is it with Montreal? First Saku Koivu and now Plecky? Get the man a steady winger dammit! B-
David Desharnais: With Pacioretty wanting Olympic gold and upping his game Desharnais has left the Gomez zone. Is now on a 40 point pace after a dead first quarter. Can salvage the season; but simply doesn’t bring enough to the table to be a true #2 C+
Lars Eller: Since he first hit the Habs I’ve pegged Eller as a 3rd line Centre. Some grit, 40 points; not too shabby. Has faded a bit this quarter, but what you see is what you get with Lars. Not bad; not great. C+
Alex Galchenyuk: Hasn’t played much Centre; but hasn’t shown much when he has positionally. I get that Montreal is trying to protect him or build him up and he’s putting up points. Sometimes I’m not sure if Montreal sees him as a part of their future or simply trying to maximize possible trade return? Grade C
Daniel Briere: Poor Danny. He’s frustrated. Habs fans are frustrated. Is there a market out there for him? Probably; but unless Montreal eats some salary probably not enough to warrant trading him. Frankly I can’t really blame him as I don’t think he’s been used as well as he should either and that certain people have higher expectations of him at this part of his career. I think the best way to use him is to max his offense and try and keep him healthy for the play offs. He still needs to be a Centre. Having one of the worst years of his career. D
Brian Gionta; Gionta and 2nd or 3rd for Jagr would look mighty good for all concerned right now. Wrong talent and fit for Montreal. Contract year and should be putting up better numbers for the ice time he’s getting. C-
Brendan Gallagher: Low salary and everyone wants to play with him. A Gm’s dream! Went through a bit of a scoring slump as Therrien moved him around to try and jump start some of the dead wood. If Montreal is going to play Smurfs this is your Blue Boy! Still only on a 40 point pace. B
Max Pacioretty: Is this guy the real deal or another Chris Higgins? With his name in trade talks anything is possible. With his contract it makes no sense to trade him because he’s actually what Montreal needs more of even if he’s had a weird year.
While seeming to always be hurt this year he’s leading the team with 19 goals. On pace for 40 goals and nearly 300 shots. At his salary I’d really be interested to see what Marc Bergevin would be asking in return? A
Rene Bourque: Not sure if he’s still concussed or otherwise injured, but also having one of the worst years of his career. D
Bottom Six: Brandon Prust seems to be underscoring a bit; but Travis Moen is picking it up a bit. Ryan White? George Parros? There’s not a lot of magic in Montreal’s lower end. That’s a problem for the team as most of their size can’t play offense which is why their goals per game are low this year. C-
Montreal has now gone over 40 games without really addressing the needs of their top or bottom six. It’s harder to make moves in the NHL apparently; but it should be interesting to see what if anything is done as we get closer to the trade deadline.
PK Subban: All this Olympic hullabaloo. Frankly all I care about is winning Lord Stanley’s Cup. All the other awards are tinker toys compared to getting your name on that trophy and if you’re in the NHL that should always be where you’re focused.
PK is on pace for a 65 point season which is about where he should be. He also doesn’t have a great fit yet for the other side. He needs a steady complement. Montreal was playing him with Markov to start the season; but that doesn’t make a lot of sense except on the PP. Contract time is looming as well. While the focus is on the Olympics PK needs to play big this quarter and help lead this team closer to the play offs and avoid another swoon like last year. B+
Andrei Markov: I have to admit to never being a huge Markov fan; but I do like him a lot. He’s shown a huge amount of grit this year; his first real first season after knee issues and he’s logging manly minutes each and every game; something I think is a bit of a mistake. It’s also contract year for him. On pace for 40+ points and is +10 right now. His game is maturing in his later years. If Gonchar was worth two years at $5M at 39 what will Markov bring at 36 and will it be for Montreal? B
Josh Gorges: He blocks shots. He plays some D as he’s +7. He’s Carey Price’s homey. Should he be in your top 4? Would he be top 4 in Chicago or Vancouver? Needs to get back to the 25 point mark to be there. C+
Alexei Emelin: Benched last night and has horrible -8 in 21 games. He also has 4 assists and 61 hits during that span. Not sure how he fits in eventually. Should be that guy playing next to Markov, but needs to up his game to fulfill that role. C-
Raphael Diaz: I’m sure he does something special or is Coach Therrien that afraid to give more minutes to Douglas Murray or Frankie Boullion? D
Douglas Murray: Rough year for the big Swede. Back from injury he’s -11 in 22 games. He has laid on the bod with 67 hits. Not sure what people are expecting from Murray; but he’s pretty much delivering the real deal. C-
Frankie Bouillon: Stick a fork in Frankie. The end of a line for a great guy. Would this guy be on Montreal, and getting his minutes if his name was Johnson? Methinks not.
The Habs need Emelin to get his head together and they need to acquire a real top 4 D or close facsimile to mount any threat in the play offs.
Goal: Carey Price. I’m not a fan; but Carey really must want to be the guy in the Olympics this year. That I think is part of why I’m not such a fan. He’s eating minutes and the team is winning ugly. He needs to steal more games and earn that fat salary of his. .928 SV% and 2.28 GAA are fine. Only 2 shut outs and 19-11 record not as much. B
Peter Budaj is getting a few more games this year and is 5-3 with 2.05 GAA and a .923 SV%. B+
Overall this quarter B
It feels weird giving the Habs a B. My gut says to give them a lower grade, but they have the record to justify the grade and at the end if the day it’s winning that counts.
The good news is that Montreal can improve internally. Right now they should have no problem making the play offs unless they really nose dive. Are they a play off team? In some ways yes; but they still are a few pieces away from making a real run.
What do you think Hab fans? You can post your comments below.