At game 81 its easy to look back at this season as an utter failure. It was in many respects.
From the firing of coaches on game-days, to terrible panic trades, to the trading of players in games – the season was a bit of a sh!t show.
Still, 81 games ago did you think it was even remotely possible that Eric Cole would have 11 goals on the powerplay and rank 13th over-all for goals? Having played in all 80 games to date, the former Hurricane has destroyed his critics who said he couldn’t play away from Carolina and Eric Staal – putting up the best numbers of his career next to an undrafted centreman who stands 5’7″ tall, and a guy who less than 5 months before the season began – broke his neck.
David Desharnais was considered as the thrid (possibly fourth) line centre when the season started. While every one focused on the duo of Scott Gomez and Tomas Plekanec, there is literally none among us who could have imagined that lil’ Davey could muster 60 points this season. Hands up if you thought he would score on pace with Lucic this year. Keep them up if you thought he would outscore Daniel Alfredsson, or Thomas Vanek, or Rick Nash, Johan Franzen, Ryan Getzlaf, and Bobby Ryan. Its a testament to Desharnais’ talent that he has continued to score at every level of hockey – long past most expected him to fail.
Desharnais owes a good deal of his 44 assists to the guy who has ridden shot-gun since their time together in the AHL – Max Pacioretty. When Zdeno Chara smashed him into the stanchion at centre-ice in that fateful game last season – my first instinct was that Pacioretty might be dead. The impact was so great, and the angle so treacherous that until we saw Pacioretty move a few moments after regaining consciousness, the entire Bell Centre and millions watching at home held their collective breath. For a moment the brutal rivalry that had boiled over between the Habs and Bruins ceased to matter, as the gravity of such an uncommonly devastating impact ripped all of the noise form a normally boisterous crowd.
Since then, all that Max Pacioretty has done is gone on to be in the top 20 in the NHL for goals scored, Top 40 in points (tied with Alex Ovechkin), and finally emerged as the young power-forward of the future that Montreal has pined for since John Leclair left for the Flyers. It is almost uncompromisable what the Two and a Half Men line has been able to accomplish this season.
And so – rather than complain about how that line has single-handedly ruined our shot at Nail Yakupov , my cap is off to them. With two games to go in one of the worst seasons I can ever remember – I remain encouraged abut the future of the club. With Cole, Desharnais, and Pacioretty – I know we have some good years to look forward to in the future.
Go Habs Go!!