The Montreal Canadiens have hit a bumpy road recently with some less than adequate play. It has become more and more apparent that there are some holes in the line-up that really need to be filled. Now that one of the Habs’ more dynamic youngsters in Alex Galchenyuk is sidelined for 6 weeks, Montreal needs to find a scoring forward able to fill this void unless other players in the line-up step up.
The Habs’ defense also has not exactly been playing up to snuff in comparison to how they did at the beginning of the 2013-14 campaign. The bottom three of Francis Bouillon, Raphael Diaz, and Douglas Murray have caused frustration on a nightly basis with most fans, and presumably Canadiens’ management. Alexei Emelin has shown flashes of brilliance, but still does not appear to be 100% since returning from an ACL injury.
Carey Price has been absolutely lights out, proving once again in the Habs’ latest game against the surging Ottawa Senators that is a true elite goaltender. Although Montreal is sitting nicely third in their division, competing closely for first with Tampa Bay and Boston, it is apparent that these lucky wins will come to an end, and a collapse could begin.
Up front first and foremost, the Canadiens need someone with size and offensive upside – somebody willing to get to the dirty areas in order to create a scoring chance.
The addition of Daniel Briere confused most people critiquing the Canadiens, mainly because of his age, decrease in production, and injury problems; however, his size was clearly an issue as well. Standing a mere 5’9” and only 174-lb, he doesn’t bring anything new to the table. The other addition of George Parros is understandable, yet mind-boggling all at the same time. The Habs need someone to protect guys like the aforementioned Briere, however, how about a guy who actually knows how to play hockey?
Montreal needs two guys up front. They need someone who can play in the top-six in a scoring role alongside David Desharnais and Max Pacioretty, a dominant line who is a threat every time they touch the puck. The second guy they need is someone to play in the bottom-six with Ryan White and Brandon Prust. Someone who is good defensively, but has the ability to make the opposition pay whenever they get into the offensive zone. Getting the scoring winger will be more of a challenge for Marc Bergevin than the bottom-six guy, but it is becoming more and more a necessity. These two changes could make a world of difference for the Habs, especially come playoff time.
On the back end, it is pretty obvious that neither Douglas Murray nor Francis Bouillon truly deserve to be playing right now. Both are liabilities whenever they are on the ice, unless they`re throwing a big hit (yes, Boullion does this, too sometimes). In my opinion, a trade for a defenceman would be redundant. Montreal has three guys in Greg Pateryn, Jarred Tinordi, and Nathan Beaulieu who are arguably ready to play at the NHL level. Marc Bergevin needs to move a couple of guys off the blue line. Murray and Bouillon both have some value somewhere. They very well could get moved to a team looking for a veteran presence, or a team looking for depth on the blue line heading into the final stretch. If the Habs are able to move these two for a draft pick of some sort, they would clear up the space to give one of their young defensemen a spot on the NHL roster. With Davis Drewiske nearing a return from his shoulder surgery, the amount of room on the blue line seems to be decreasing more and more. Something needs to happen here. Montreal has good defensive prospects, and a solid defense core at the pro level. All that needs to happen is to ship out the defensive liabilities, and allow the youngsters to make their way up the system.
In net, all I have to say is Carey Price is a beast. He is a great goalie, obviously. Peter Budaj is not too bad himself. So… we`re good there.
Lastly, Habs fans need to relax a little bit. Slumps happen, and I`m sure Montreal will pull out of it. A few little tweaks here and there, and Montreal will be even more of a force to play against in all aspects of the game. With such a young team, I see bright things for the future of this organization, and I don`t want to see a short-sighted move that jeopardizes what this team could be a few years down the road.
By Darrin Harmsworth AKA @darrinharmy