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Game 36: Habs/Flyers

  • Marc Bergevin let the trade deadline pass his team by this afternoon without making any deals to bolster his club. The reasons for this are many, but principally one has to assume that the main reason is the serious lack of talent available to trade for. Parity in the NHL has been a blessing for the overall health of the league but it has meant that at each trade deadline over the past few seasons there are only a few teams who have given up on the idea of making the playoffs. The fact that the 8th seed Los Angeles Kings won the Cup last year certainly doesn’t help matters. When the Columbus Blue Jackets make the biggest splash of the day from 11th place in the West – you know you aren’t going to get a lot of player movement.

    Frankly, beyond maybe picking up a depth forward to insure against a prolonged stay on the IR for Colby Armstrong, what would really be the point of bringing in more bodies? The return of Rene Bourque or Raphael Diaz would be more important to this club than any deal they could make today short of some drastic roster shaking blockbuster. From 2nd place in the Conference, trailing the suddenly-Crosby-less Penguiuns, the Montreal Canadiens are in the extremely lucky position of not wanting to mess with a winning combination. The additions made over the past month have all addressed Montreal’s most pressing needs while improving the team’s cap situation for next season.

    The addition to Michael Ryder the Tomas Plekanec & Brian Gionta line has payed off immensely for the Canadiens. Ryder has 14 points in 15 games since re-joining his old club and has given Plekanec the sniper that he has needed on his wing since the exit of L’Artiste.

    The waiver pick-up of Jeff Halpern has benefited Montreal in two important ways. The first is that Halpern has improved Montreal’s defensive zone faceoffs substantially over the past four games. Halpern wins draws and that allows all of the other centres to start more shifts in the offensive zone. Less time in the defensive end good. More time in the offensive end better. The second way Halpern has helped is on the penalty kill. Halpern has been a leader on the kill as Montreal has killed all but 1 of the penalties that they have taken since he rejoined the club. Small sample size notwithstanding, his addition has been far more beneficial than most would have suggested a month ago.

    The trade of a 5th round pick to the Los Angeles Kings in exchange for Davis Drewiske provided Montreal with reliable depth on the blue-line which has been a concern for the team since the start of the season. Montreal’s defense has been very good at moving the puck and controlling the neutral zone, but they have lacked the kind of physical, sturdy guy that they can send out there who will have a little more sand-paper than Andrei Markov. Is Drewiske the sexy pickup that fans pine for? Certainly not. But teams that win the Stanley Cup need this type of player just as much. The unsung hero who will lay his body on the line to win. Drewiske was heralded by many pundits in the hockey-world over the past 24hours for his work ethic and team-focused attitude. From what we have seen of Michel Thierrien’s Canadiens this season – he’ll fit in perfectly to a team that is starting to get that presence about them – that they could make serious noise once the second season hits.

  1. #1 Avatar37 says:
    April 3, 2013 at 4:40 pm

    “Frankly, beyond maybe picking up a depth forward to insure against a prolonged stay on the IR for Colby Armstrong, what would really be the point of bringing in more bodies?”

    Well, the point would be to address the weaknesses of this roster, as we’ve been discussing for years. This team doesn’t have the grit to grind out 7 game series against teams like Boston, Toronto, and Ottawa, all teams in our division. And, if we do manage to pull out a win, it will come at a physical cost. Players will be tired for the following round. While picking up Prust and Bouillon was a good start to addressing the lack of physical play on this roster, there is still one glaring hole, the lack of a player who can go up against Thornton and Chara, Neil and Carkner, Orr and Fraser. I cannot believe it would have cost us much in terms of resources in order to fill this void. Bergevin missed out on two players I had mentioned might be worth persuing in trades in both Murray and Gaborik, and didn’t address the void on our roster. I have to say that this is disappointing, considering the cost these players were aquired for could have been paid without doing too much damage to our future.

  2. #2 Avatar37 says:
    April 3, 2013 at 4:43 pm

    Boyle replacing Armstrong and aquiring Scott would have changed the physical presence on this team instantly. Very disappointing indeed.

  3. #3 Senet1 says:
    April 3, 2013 at 7:22 pm

    Avatar, I understand your disappointment and certainly we would all feel more secure had we made a couple of those moves. Having said that lets look at this team and compare it to two years ago as well as last year.

    We have a physically stronger defence by adding Boullion and Drewiske. Who are we going to replace on the D? We had one hole and it was filled with from what I understand is a very good and physically strong defenseman. He is not fancy but we do not need fancy we need a defensive defenseman who takes care of his own end.

    Grit up front, we added Prust, Armstrong? and Gallagher. Yes Gallagher, when did we have the physical presence in front of the net that Gallagher gives us???? Eller has been playing a more physical game. Galchenyuk does not get pushed off the puck and Ryder although not real physical plays a grittier game than Cole did. Bourque hopefully comes back off his injury and plays like he did at the start of the season. This is not an easy to play against lineup.

    Now we look at our special teams, Halpern provides the faceoff specialist we have needed. He has also improved out PK since he came over. So the PK is much better. Our PP has been pretty good all year and Ryder has made it better and with Gallagher’s continued improvement he also provides that interesting second line PP that we needed.

    The one area we did not address is physical presence/fighter to protect our small forwards. Maybe we have a plan, let the other teams take the stupid penalties and we stay disciplined, you do not always have to react to the other team attempting to goat one of your smaller players into taking a swing or making a foul against the brutes. This is a time for everyone, to be smart and pick your places to do what is needed. You are never going to win a physical contest with those types of teams, so you play your game and let them be the stupid ones. That is how to win a seven game series against these types of teams. That’s my opinion for what it is worth.

  4. #4 Avatar37 says:
    April 4, 2013 at 5:42 pm

    Last night, Hartnell hit Gallagher with two good, solid hits, and Gallagher was invisible for most of the rest of the game. He wasn’t alone in this, as this team that averages 31 shots a game managed to muster only 17. This is what happens when you have to grind out a game against a physical team, it wears you down.

    We picked up Driewiske instead of paying a higher price for Murray, Driewiske’s error led to the game winning goal for Philly. Murray isn’t “fancy” either, he’s a shot blocking hard hitting defensive defenseman. Think Gorges only bigger and hits more.

    I liked picking up Hapern, it added someone capable of winning key faceoffs, but I never thought we should have let him go in the first place.

    Getting some bigger forwards simply isn’t about the fighting, it’s about the hitting. Last night against the Flyers was a perfect example of what I was talking about. The Flyers didn’t play a dirty game, but they sure played a physical one and kept Montreal from playing our game. I’m not looking forward to a 7 game series against either Toronto or Boston, because this is the kind of game they also play.

    The reality is that we haven’t won a cup since we haven’t had a bonafide enforcer on the roster. In my opinion, this is no coincidence. We shall see what happens come playoff time.

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