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Game 38: Habs/Lightning

  • There may not be a team in the NHL who needs a win more than your Montreal Canadiens. After such a thrilling, excellent start, the wheels have fallen off the wagon as the Canadiens have plummeted down the Eastern Conference standings. While they do currently hold the final spot, Carolina trails by only 4 points with a game in hand. More importantly, the Canadiens trail the Bruins by 2 points, with the Beantown Boys having played two fewer games.

    The only way to right the ship is to win. To do that tonight a few things are going to need to happen:

    1. The addition of James Wisniewski to our defense is going to need to have a positive, and settling impact. Our recent troubles have a risen from panicky, and soft defensive play. JW should provide at minimum some support to the rest of the D corps who desperately would like to re-gain the type of simplistic and effective defense that they were playing during the first 25 games this season.

    2. The top 6 forwards of the Habs need to find a way to produce offense. Its been a year long struggle offensively for the Canadiens. You could easily look around the league to see the comparative stats of how our forwards stack up against the competition.  The Lightning have 23 more goals so far this year than we do. Their top forward has 22 more points than ours. The defenseman that we recently added to our roster is now our 4th leading scorer. I could go on. I won’t. The bottom line is that our forwards have to do a better job of giving Carey Price a lead – and then doing something very rare – extending it. Frankly, for a team to go a half of a season without winning one game in which it trailed after one period is incredibly telling. This team’s defensive lapses have gotten the headlines recently, but are only important because the offense is entirely capable of bailing the team out. The Habs have given up the third LEAST amount of goals in the entire NHL. You can’t do much better.

    3. Carey Price doesn’t get any run support so he is going to have to find a way to regain his early season form. It hurts to say it – because I know how unreasonable it is. “Carey – for us to win you can’t ever make a mistake. You need to be perfect – every game.” It’s ludicrous. But when the team is struggling as it is, the most likely way to earn two points is to have Carey Price stand on his head… again.

    The trade for James Wisniewski clearly makes the Canadiens a better team. In a situation in which JW can be one defender within a unit, I believe he can be far more effective than he was in New York where he didn’t have the team depth, defensive system, and goaltending that Montreal enjoys. His offensive talents will be a welcome help and will mean that Montreal controls the puck far better in the offensive zone.

    Still, as I’ve said repeatedly, our most glaring need is offense. If Pierre Gauthier doesn’t see an answer within the system – he must look elsewhere. I’ve seen many names out there. I’d love to hear who everybody thinks would be a fit.

    Iginla? Richards? Who might the Habs be able to swing a deal with if the opportunity arose?

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