The Montreal Canadiens feature two of the things you look for in a championship contender: an elite goalie (Carey Price) and an outstanding, versatile defenseman (P.K. Subban).
Management seems pretty even-keeled about the team’s flaws, especially on offense. Perhaps a division title (not to mention league-wide trends of lower scoring) can breed patience/complacency.*
To most people, P.K. Subban (26 years old) and Carey Price (28) still seem enviably fresh-faced, yet it’s important to remember that windows of greatness can close with cruel quickness in sports.
One can reasonably expect goalies to age a bit more gracefully, yet Price would need to stand on his head to top the award-hogging season he generated in 2014-15. Subban may still have some upside even considering his current level of brilliance, but for how long will either one remain elite?
Look, it’s true that the Canadiens boast a ton of players who are in or around their primes. Max Pacioretty is just 26. Alex Galchenyuk could rocket up the charts, as he’s only 21, while Brendan Gallagher could very well pester for more than a decade considering the fact that he’s merely 23. Heck, Alexander Semin isn’t even that old at 31.
Even so, there’s a cut-off point where a slow-and-steady approach risks throwing away the best years of two of the most talented players on the planet.
If the coming 2015-16 season isn’t a pivotal one for GM Marc Bergevin to decide if he has the right supporting cast around Subban and Price – coach included – then it sure should be.
* – Feel free to use whichever word you think applies to Habs’ management.
Max Pacioretty is renowned for getting injured often yet recovering with seemingly mutant powers, so it’s not too surprising that his injury update is optimistic.
“Wolverine” is doing well when it comes to his knee injury rehab, as the Montreal Gazette’s Dave Stubbs reports:
There wasn’t an update regarding Pacioretty sharpening his adamantium claws, however.
Speaking of bad jokes, he appeared in this amusing comedy club video, although fellow Montreal Canadiens forward Brendan Gallagher fared a little better:
Then again, Gallagher has more experience yapping, so you’d expect him to boast superior comic delivery, right?
Jonathan Quick turned some heads with his effusive praise of Pacioretty, 26, yet the American winger needs to heal up to show how underrated he really is. We’ll still need to wait and see if he’s ready for the start of the 2015-16 season (the prognosis was a three-month recovery back in June), but the early outlook seems promising.
PHT’s Morning Skate takes a look around the world of hockey to see what’s happening and what we’ll be talking about around the NHL world and beyond.
The Montreal Canadiens played the 2014-15 season without a captain after Brian Gionta signed in Buffalo as a free agent. Habs legend Guy Lafleur believes when the club does appoint a new leader it should be forward Brendan Gallagher wearing the ‘C’.
“A captain shouldn’t be chosen on the amount of goals he’s going to score,” Lafleur told the Montreal Gazette. “That guy (Gallagher) really impressed me every night I saw him play. He’s aggressive, he wants to win. He gets some bad shots from opponents, he takes a lot of hits and there’s not too many guys on the team that work like he does.” (Montreal Gazette)
With salary cap issues looming, Mike Milbury discusses the potential roster turnover the Chicago Blackhawks face.
Red Wings’ prospect Tom McCollum proving his worth with the AHL’s Grand Rapids Griffins in the Calder Cup playoffs. (Detroit Free Press)
Newly hired Flyers’ coach Dave Hakstol owes the University of North Dakota $100,000 for taking NHL gig. (Grand Forks Herald)
The Montreal Canadiens brass has been out at the Memorial Cup this week watching, among others, prospect goaltender Zach Fucale. The Habs front office won’t be happy with the performance they saw from Fucale on Wednesday night. The 20-year-old was pulled after allowing four goals on 25 shots and his Quebec Remparts fell 4-0 to the Rimouski Oceanic. (Sportsnet)
Here’s another look at the Blackhawks’ 5-2 win in Game 6 on Wednesday night:
With Matt Beleskey scoring 45 seconds into overtime in Game 5 on Monday night, The Hockey News takes a look at the fastest five playoff overtime winners. (The Hockey News)
Despite rallying back from a 3-0 series deficit to force a Game 6, Montreal didn’t fare well against Tampa Bay tonight. With his team eliminated, Canadiens bench boss Michel Therrien offered a harsh assessment of what happened.
“I felt that physically and mentally we were drained. It’s disappointing but I guess those things happen,” Therrien said, per the Montreal Gazette’s Dave Stubbs.
Montreal defenseman P.K. Subban partially echoed that sentiment by stating, “We knew they were going to come out with their best effort tonight and we didn’t match it.”
They seem to differ regarding where Montreal’s stands overall though. The Canadiens have won their division in two of the last three years and have advanced to at least the second round in back-to-back campaigns, but Therrien still sees them as a transitional team.
“I can’t focus on saying we need to wait a couple of years before we can contend,” Subban countered, according to NHL.com’s Аrpon Basu. “We need to contend now.”
Carey Price will turn 28 in August, Subban celebrates his 26th birthday on Wednesday, and Max Pacioretty will be 27 in November. That’s the core of the team and with that in mind, the Canadiens should be in win now mode. At the same time, forwards Brendan Gallagher and Alex Galchenyuk are just starting to come into their own and perhaps they’ll be the difference in a couple years.
Montreal could certainly use the offensive help as it averaged a pedestrian 2.61 goals per game in the regular season and that went down to 2.08 in the playoffs.
Including the regular season, Montreal went into Thursday’s game against Tampa Bay without a single win in eight meetings. Another loss tonight would have ended the Canadiens’ playoff run, but instead they scored early and often in a 6-2 victory.
Montreal defenseman Andrei Markov set the tone of the game just 2:44 minutes in when he beat Lightning goaltender Ben Bishop. That put the game on a path that led to Bishop being pulled early in the second frame after allowing a soft goal from David Desharnais.
Andrei Vasilevskiy made his first career playoff appearance as a result, but it didn’t work out for him as Jeff Petry and Brendan Gallagher found the back of the net just 15 seconds apart to turn this contest into a blowout.
Tampa Bay was able to capitalize on a couple power-play opportunities after that, but Montreal didn’t let up in the third period so it’s hard for the Lightning to take many positives out of this one. Although they won Game 3, the Lightning were looking for a better performance tonight and didn’t get it.
Really the only silver lining for the Lightning is that they’re in a position to shake off this loss. They had a 3-0 series lead and thus still have three more chances to eliminate Montreal. Even still, it would be very dangerous to let the Canadiens get back into this series. With stars like goaltender Carey Price and defenseman P.K. Subban on their side, the Canadiens have the talent to make some history.
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