Poll: Is Therrien the right coach for Montreal?

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Gauging a Montreal Canadiens coach can be a tricky endeavor.

For one thing, you must consider the expectations that come inherent with being the bench boss of a franchise that has won a record 24 Stanley Cups.

It’s not about excellence alone, however, as management acknowledged years ago that their head coach probably needs to speak French.

“Although our main priority remains to win hockey games and to keep improving as a team, it is obvious that the ability for the head coach to express himself in both French and English will be a very important factor in the selection of the permanent head coach,” Team president Geoff Molson said in a statement back in 2011.

Some hoped that the Habs would part ways with Michel Therrien after the team’s second-round exit to the Tampa Bay Lightning, yet GM Marc Bergevin stood idle.

Back in April, The Montreal Gazette’s Jack Todd mocked those who yearn for a replacement:

Has the coach of a 110-point team that finished second overall in the league, a team coming off an Eastern Conference final, ever faced so much heat at home? Doubtful. There is a strange reluctance to embrace Therrien here, despite three consecutive outstanding seasons on his watch.

One might break down the arguments in three different ways:

1) Therrien is the best fit, period.

2) Therrien is the best fit considering Montreal’s Francophone requirements.

3) Therrien is not the best fit.

It’s not an especially new debate, yet it’s an intriguing one nonetheless: is Therrien the right guy for the job?

Canadiens sign Audette to entry-level deal

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The Montreal Canadiens aren’t slacking just because it’s Friday.

After signing “mercurial” free agent Alexander Semin to a “prove it” deal, they also inked Daniel Audette to a three-year, entry-level contract.

The 19-year-old presents another example of the Habs being willing to give smaller players a chance, as he’s listed at 5-foot-8 and 176 lbs.

That smaller frame didn’t stop him from a productive season in the QMJHL in 2014-15, as he topped all scorers for Sherbrooke Phoenix with 73 points in 60 games.

Montreal selected Audette in the fifth round (147th overall) of the 2014 NHL Draft.

(In case you’re wondering, yes, he’s Donald Audette’s son.)

Redemption time? Montreal, Semin agree to one-year deal

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Alexander Semin’s journey for redemption will take him through the most storied franchise in NHL history.

The Montreal Canadiens announced that they have signed Semin to a one-year deal. His contract is worth $1.1 million, per TVA Sports’ Renaud Lavoie — a far cry from the five-year, $35 million contract the Carolina Hurricanes bought themselves out of after just two seasons.

Inconsistency is nothing new to Semin, but he hit new lows last season with just six goals and 19 points in 57 games. On top of that, Hurricanes GM Ron Francis criticized Semin’s “compete level,” which is, justifiably or not, an issue that has been brought up with Semin before.

Semin’s agent, Mark Gandler, countered that Hurricanes coach Bill Peters “did not understand Sasha’s game.”

If you do buy into the argument that motivation has been a problem for Semin though, then there’s still reason to believe it won’t be this season. After all, the 31-year-old has plenty to prove and no long-term job security given his contract. Under similar circumstances during the lockout shortened 2013 campaign, Semin had 13 goals and 44 points in 44 games.

Either way, this is a low-risk move for Montreal and when you consider that Semin has surpassed the 30-goal and 70-point marks on three separate occasions, this has the potential to be a steal for a team that tied for the fewest goals allowed in the league last season, but finished 20th in terms of goals per game.

Cooper: ‘What got Montreal back in the series was what we did for big parts of the game’

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The Tampa Bay Lightning managed to eliminate the Montreal Canadiens in the second round, but they didn’t make it look pretty. After taking a 3-0 series lead, it took three attempts to finally clinch. Some of the mistakes that plagued Tampa Bay in the second half of the previous series now seem to be bleeding into the Eastern Conference Final against the Rangers.

“What got us through the Montreal series is not what we did tonight in some parts of the game. What got Montreal back in the series was what we did for big parts of the game tonight,” Lightning bench boss Jon Cooper said after this afternoon’s 2-1 loss to New York.

Cooper felt like the team didn’t attempt enough shots and their five-on-five play could have been better. The Rangers certainly dominated the game in that regard as you can see below, per War on Ice:

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The Rangers similarly had an 18-13 edge in five-on-five scoring chances.

“I’ve got no answer why in Game 1 of a Conference Final why that happened,” Cooper said. “But I thought after the second or third period, both teams had chances. It was a pretty good hockey game.”

The game certainly remained close despite the Rangers edge at even strength. If this series plays out like the Rangers’ previous two, then we’re likely in for a lot more close, low scoring games. Then again Tampa Bay led the league in scoring during the regular season. The Rangers previous opponents, the Pittsburgh Penguins and Washington Capitals, had star forwards, but not as much offensive depth as Tampa Bay. Perhaps that will be the key for the Lightning in this series, but that certainly wasn’t the case on Saturday.

Bergevin sees ‘no reason’ to make changes to Canadiens coaching staff

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Sounds like we can cross off Montreal as a potential landing spot for Mike Babcock, or any other free-agent head coach.

“I have no reason to make any changes when it comes to our coaching staff,” Canadiens GM Marc Bergevin said this morning. “They are doing great work.”

Under Michel Therrien, the Habs finished first in the Atlantic (50-22-10) and made it to the second round of the playoffs. Which is a lot better than most teams.

But despite that, Therrien received a good amount of criticism for how his team played. The Canadiens were relatively poor at controlling the puck, they had the 20th-ranked offense, and were overly reliant on goalie Carey Price.  

Montreal’s power play also struggled, ranking 23rd during the regular season and scoring just twice in the playoffs. That put assistant coach Dan Lacroix, the power play being his responsibility, under the microscope. But based on Bergevin’s remarks today, Lacroix will remain on the staff.

Bergevin also made a comment about 21-year-old Alex Galchenyuk that raised some eyebrows.

“Chucky is not there yet,” Bergevin said, per TSN’s John Lu. “He might never be a centerman. He might be, he could be.”

Galchenyuk was the third overall pick in 2012. He was drafted to be a center. On top of that, many feel the Canadiens’ biggest flaw is down the middle, where Tomas Plekanec and David Desharnais are currently their top two centers.

Perhaps Bergevin was just trying to motivate Galchenyuk. Or, perhaps his remark, as some have suggested, is related to the fact Galchenyuk is a pending restricted free agent and will be negotiating a new contract this summer. Because Bergevin also acknowledged it’s next to impossible to land a number-one center through a trade, suggesting the price to do so would be, well, Price.

Related: Canadiens need to be more than Carey Price