The Forum: What’s Next For The Habs?

The Montreal Canadiens have been eliminated, celebrated Subban’s birthday, cleaned their lockers out and hit the links. While the 2014-2015 season has been put to bed, the speculation season is just starting up again! Today we ask, what’s next for the Habs?

Kyle (@kyleroussel) – Coming off the heels of Bergevin’s presser, it doesn’t sound like we can expect much in terms of changes. Of course, I wouldn’t expect him to announce a bunch of hard-hitting changes today, but it certainly sounds like he’s comfy with the idea of growing the team together as is, coaching staff and all. I’m sure he intends to make some changes but we’ll have to wait to see what they are.

Zach (@ZachVanasse) – Wait and see? Wait and see?! Come on Kyle! The Habs’ season has been a thing of the past for days! It’s time for wild speculation, demands for sweeping changes and overreactions to a series in which the Habs mostly outplayed their competition!

What’s next for the Canadiens? Certain Fucking Doom if we don’t fire Therrien, trade half this team away and take a few players out behind the barn to give ’em the Old Yeller treatment.
Galchenyuk’s a bust. Markov’s a corpse. Plekanec is useless. Pacioretty isn’t clutch enough. And while we’e on the topic, Carey could be better.
It’s time to burn it down and start again, I think. An Eastern Conference Final appearance followed up by a closer-than-six-game-indicates Second Round loss in back-to-back seasons from one of the youngest teams in the NHL isn’t good enough!
Sure, the Habs may have a Hart, Vezina and Norris trophy candidate on the team… but we need more right now!
Patience is for the weak. The only thing patience has earned us thus far is the anointment of Price as the best goalie (player?) in the league, the rise of Subban as one of the most important blue liners in the game and more success in the past two season’s than we’d seen in any successive seasons since half of us can remember.
All Is Lost.
John (@RabidHabs_CJ) – I’m inclined to say I’d do the exact opposite of what the fans believe is best for the team. Sorry if this reads as “pointy stick,” but in listening to Bergevin’s press conference and then reading the feedback on Twitter, I honestly ask: What do fans expect?
The team this year was, on average, more than three years younger than last year’s team. The club introduced young players (Beaulieu/Pateryn/de la Rose) into key positions and responsibilities which will only grow going forward. There was a transition in leadership as the vacuum created with the departure of Gorges and Gionta was filled by PK and Max. All this considered, I thought the club had another very good season. Only four teams have more regular season wins since the NHL resumed following the most recent strike. Only four teams have more playoff wins. To suggest that Bergevin is failing is to completely ignore these results, not to mention the depth he has built at both the professional and amateur levels.

So, in my opinion, what are the next steps? It begins with a thorough evaluation of every player and personnel (coaching, training, etc). After reflection and evaluation, begin the decision making process. It’s not just as easy as saying we will trade Emelin and/or Desharnais, Parenteau, etc. There has to be a buyer, contract status, etc. This is a process with many moving parts. In my opinion moves will unfold, in time. In the short term, focus must be on the draft. I hope opportunities will be afforded to two or more prospects to make next year’s team. I would also not be surprised if the team took a step back next year, only to leap forward in the following year. I believe that Bergevin is continuing to advance the organization closer to the goal of positioning themselves among the elite clubs who can contend for the Stanley Cup. Of course, every other club is driving towards the same goal and only one team can hoist Lord Stanley’s Cup.

So, I look forward to an eventful offseason and am interested in the Chucky contract, personnel decisions on defence (Markov and Emelin) and at centre (Desharnais and Plekanec). Mostly though, I’m curious to see who fills the void at RW in the top six.

Steph (@stephdarwish– I stopped listening to “fans” on call-in shows… only the most absurd tweets, emails, calls get taken.. My favourite? Trade Subban and Price for Malkin???? Whhhhaaaat?

I know this has been somewhat addressed, but getting Galchenyuk at centre, and capable at this position will go a long way.
Resigning Petry will be huge.
And then, if somehow, somewhere, some GM takes a bunch of crazy pills and wants to give away a big guy who can score for nothing, then great! Otherwise, I wouldn’t want Bergevin to move any major pieces.
Secret and crazy fantasy desire: I’d like to think Ovechkin is just done with Washington and losing a series were they are up, once again, 3-1. He comes back from the the Czech Republic where Russia once again didn’t win anything, and just decides he needs to win. He also decides Montreal is the place to do it, and so makes Brian MacLellan trade him away for nothing. Also, somehow, Bergevin finds away to be able to keep all the core AND handle Ovechkin’s 9.5 million dollar cap hit :)
John (@RabidHabs_CJ) – After spending a few minutes (time well wasted) reading social media re the Canadiens, I honestly wonder what fans believe they are entitled to? I can NOT believe the narrative that’s floating around suggesting that Bergevin has done nothing in three years. Do people honestly believe themselves when they write this? How many other teams in the league would gladly trade their standing for what the Habs have accomplished under Bergevin?
How many organizations have been better the past three years; five, maybe six? Sorry to extend this conversation but I’m quickly losing patience with some “fans.” I think it’s fair to critique decisions and lament losses, but how can someone so openly question the results when compared with our competition? That, in my humble opinion, is where folks allow emotion to take over for reality. Sure, I also want to see the PP click. Yes, I too want to see more goals, but let’s get real. Montreal plays by the same rules as every other franchise. We have deficiencies and we have strengths. There is so much parity in the game today that it has become difficult to elevate beyond the median.

If the Habs are as terrible as some think, what does that say for the 20+ other franchises who have not enjoyed anywhere near the same success over the past three years? Respectfully, we had a great regular season, largely due to great health and great play from our three best players, our depth and an emergence of young prospects who adequately filled the roles of those departed players. We lost in the postseason to a very good team. We were a shot away from winning Game 1 and Game 3, hit 13 posts in the series and could have won the series just as easily as lost it. If that’s the definition of an “awful” season, maybe fans should give up and invest their time in something else where results are more easily obtained. This is hockey and winning, especially in the playoffs is not easy.

Rant concluded….

Kyle (@kyleroussel) – Wait….are you suggesting that certain pockets of fandom have an unhealthy sense of entitlement????
Damon (@DTA23) – Don’t be so hard on the “fans.” Remember fan is short for fanatical. Of course we have had a great run the past few years, but the closer you come to reaching a goal the more it hurts and the more you want to make changes to get to the final goal the next year.
Which fan base feels worse: Oilers or Habs? I’d argue the Habs. As your team gets better and closer to winning it all, it becomes harder and harder to improve. It’s the law of diminishing returns.
The oilers are closer to reaching our level than we are to winning the Cup. It’s pretty much legislated into all sports that going from terrible to average is pretty easy. Going from average to good is doable, but going from good to great is the hardest leap to make.
Right now most people want to use a butcher knife but what we need is a scalpel. I think Bergevin has done a very good job. I’m curious to see if he has the surgical precision needed to make the cuts and fixes necessary to make the team better at the margins.
The Stanley Cup run of 1993 was a long, long time ago. I’m not going to tell fans to bridle their passion and stop demanding sweeping changes. That’s what makes Montreal such a great hockey city. We have the weight of history on our backs causing us to have a very earned sense of entitlement.
Sometimes good enough is the enemy of great. Therrien is a good enough coach but maybe we need a great coach that will take us over the top. I look at what happened in the NBA where the Warriors fired their coach after he lead them to the most wins in 20 years. only to have the next coach come in and lead them to a franchise record in wins and the best record in the league and what looks like a championship this season.
John (@RabidHabs_CJ) –  I love the passion. I love the vested interest each and every fan has in the Montreal Canadiens. I too advocate change and want the missing pieces added to push this club to the next level. My comments are in response to those who suggest the Habs have been “awful” under Bergevin’s guidance. How can fans draw that conclusion? I kinda get the Oilers comment, but it’s based entirely on the fact that the organization is so bad that it has nowhere to go but up. Quite honestly, any Edmonton fan who believes that they’ve enjoyed more success in the last three years than Montreal is kidding nobody but themselves. Maybe the comment is meant to suggest that it’s so bad in Edmonton that fans have just become numb to the results, while in Montreal folks continue to live and die with every win or loss.

I like the butcher knife and scalpel illustration. It’s easy to suggest that major change is ahead, but given the constraints faced by GMs including salary cap, no movement clauses, free agency, etc., it’s entirely unlikely that more than a few changes are made this offseason. Best case scenario is that we can unload Emelin and Desharnais and bring in or promote from within to fill the voids. However, that’s extremely ambitious as it assumes a rival GM wants either player and their remaining term.
Lastly, in my humble opinion, coaches receive far too many accolades following victories and are subjected to far too many criticisms following losses. I’m not a Therien fan. Never was. I hoped the Habs would have landed Bob Hartley 3 + years ago, but they didn’t. Should the Canadiens stumble, or should their PP continue to falter, then maybe we see changes, but at this point, we won’t see a change for the sake of change. Therien and his staff, like the players, are accountable. Now as the organization enters its fourth year under Bergevin’s guidance, pressure will begin to rise as expectations grow. I’ve always believed that it takes five years for a leader to effectively place his stamp, his identity, on the organization. As the timeline narrows, we have begun to see the future inch closer. Ultimately this may result in a championship, but more likely we can hope to simply be championship calibre. After all, only one team reaches their goal, and in such a parity driven league results have never been more difficult.

The Forum: Can The Habs Beat The Lightning?

The Canadiens were unable to beat the Lightning once during the regular season. Today we ask our panelists if, in fact, the Habs can beat the Bolts not once, but four times in the second round?

Kyle (@kyleroussel) – We’re a funny bunch, us Habs fans. We’re the first to say “regular season results mean nothing,” but now we’re trembling about facing the Lightning. I’ve been told that this isn’t a good matchup for the Tricolore, but I watched a lot of the Wings-Bolts series and I didn’t see an awful lot from Tampa that makes me think the Canadiens are doomed.

I’m taking the Habs in 7, which is just another way of saying “too close to call / I have no idea,” but there’s no reason to believe that the good guys can’t prevail. We know they put a lot of rubber on Ottawa goalies, with very few pucks actually getting by them. Will that puck luck swing in our favour in this series? Hopefully. Ben Bishop looked shaky, like he was fighting the puck at times until he posted a shutout yesterday. What I think is key for the Habs is a fast start. Tampa may have just endured a 7-game series, but they’ll be in game-ready modetomorrow night. The Habs have been resting up since Sunday and I think the common narrative will be that the rested Habs will pounce on a weary Lightning team. I think we’ve all seen enough to know that isn’t often the case. The Lightning will have their legs under them, the Habs probably won’t, at least not to start. That’s the short-term challenge; weather the storm until you get your legs back, and take game 1. Plant an early seed of concern in Tampa’s mind that you CAN beat them, and avoid feeding the “winless against the Lightning this season” mantra.

Damon (@DTA23) – Is I hope so a definitive answer? The regular season would suggest no. But the playoffs are a different beast. I think that Carey will give us a chance any night to steal a game. The question is: Can we get some goals?
I hate making predictions, so I’m just going to say I’m excited to watch this series play out. We will need the PP to get its act together and to do better at capitalizing on scoring chances. Let’s try to score first for more than one game in the series.
By the way, the rising water levels around the city isn’t from thawing ice or rain, it’s from the anti-Therrien crowd over-salivating at their opportunity to tear ol Mikey a new one, or ten. The laser-sharpened ginsus are ready to slice & dice!
John (@RabidHabs_CJ) – Can the Canadiens beat the Bolts,,,,,,,,,, Habsolutely.
Consider me among those who believe that there are players geared to help you get to the playoffs and those that will help you get through the playoffs. Although TB has a solid roster, I once again believe that Montreal will carry the series, led by Price, Eller and PK. Keys will be getting Pacioretty healthy and reengaged and starting to find desired match-ups for Plekanec and Galchenyuk who I thought were listless in round 1. Proven playoff performers like Weise can help add secondary scoring, augmenting the top six who will need to be much better.

Fact is, I thought the Habs beat Ottawa despite a number of Canadiens skaters well below their usual standard. As recently as two years ago the Habs had no chance at winning a series unless every single player played their vest best. Now they won while 4-6 players were not only off, but totally out of sync. Sure this needs to be addressed, but I don’t believe TB is a much better team than Ottawa. Bishop has had our number, but we just beat Anderson despite him allowing 4 goals in 4 games and posting a SV% of nearly .975. We beat Ottawa despite only scoring 1 PP goal. If everything had gone right that first round and we struggled to win in six games than I’d be inclined to offer a different opinion, but based on the fact that we were so uncharacteristically off, yet still won has me believing that anything is possible.

I believe we see a better Habs team and one that uses their playoff experience to their advantage when the puck drops on Friday night. Habs in a long series, 4-3.
Steph (@stephdarwish– Ugh.. you know, if the Habs were playing Detroit, I’d be all “regular season stats predict EVERYTHING,” but now that the Habs are playing Tampa, I’m saying regular season means nothing!

I’ll take a rested Habs team over a struggling and tired Tampa team. I don’t think the PP will improve for the Habs, but I do think the Habs will have more success generating offence 5-on-5 against Tampa.
Zach (@ZachVanasse) – Of course they can beat the Lightning. The Habs have a Hart, Vezina and Norris trophy finalist on the team (even if two of those are the same guy).But I’m going to go ahead and say I don’t think the Canadiens will beat Tampa. I feel as though the Lightning are a very similar team to Montreal, but they are the superior team at nearly every point down the depth chart (except for goaltending, obviously). I never saw enough of anything during their regular season encounters to lead me to believe this version of the Habs will outduel this Lightning squad.

I’m still hopeful, and I’m still cheering, but from my pre-Game 1 vantage, it’s going to be very difficult to take down Tampa Bay.

However, win tonight and everything changes.