It is impossible to ascertain exactly what Marc Bergevin is trying to accomplish. He has completely uprooted the team he took over in 2012. With the Tomas Plekanec departure, the only players remaining from the Pierre Gauthier era are Carey Price and Max Pacioretty; and we can only guess what’s going to happen to Pacioretty in the spring.
Bergevin’s stated goal was to maintain or improve team-speed and bring in character players who “would not get the Canadiens just to the playoffs but get them through them.”
The speed is there. I’m not so sure about team character.
Since December 23rd the Canadiens have taken at least a point in eleven of their last 13 Bell Centre games.
On the road, the Canadiens have lost 12 of their last 13.
We know the team has serious talent deficiencies but it’s hard to rationalize the fight the Canadiens have demonstrated at home in recent weeks with their near-capitulation on the road.
THE FUTURE IS NOW
With the departure of Plekanec, the Canadiens are now the youngest team in the Eastern Conference. There were five rookies on the ice versus the Flyers. All of them had an effect on the game’s outcome including 19 and 20 year old defensemen.
We have seen all season what Victor Mete’s speed can bring to a game. Noah Juulsen’s calmness under fire has been a revelation. What is interesting to me is the fact that Juulsen missed the whole early part of the season with a broken ankle and has still managed to physically catch up to his teammates and opponents and in some cases surpass them. Juulsen logged 20:11 including 2:26 killing penalties. Mete had 22:13. Only Petry was on the ice more.
I can’t imagine anyone trying to compare Charlie Lindgren to Carey Price at his best, but against the Flyers he was awfully damn good.
He faced down the team that moved into first place in the Metro Division with their shootout win Monday night. He was on his feet and in position to smell out everything the Flyers threw at him, especially in the first period as the Canadiens were being outshot 10-3. and the third period when Philadelphia held a 10-4 advantage. And that diving save he made on Claude Giroux with nineteen seconds remaining in overtime was pure highlight reel stuff. Two shutouts in 12 starts this season for Lindgren.
IN GOOD COMPANY
Maybe it’s because he had no other choice but I have to admit I was surprised that Claude Julien put Jacob de la Rose back between Paul Byron and Brendan Gallagher. As useless as he seemed to be Saturday night, he was good in this game. And so were his linemates, especially Paul Byron who has been in a bit of a funk the last couple of weeks. De la Rose had four pretty good shots on goal in the game, but equally notable were his team-leading seven hits. Question is, can we get two games in a row from him like this one.
….Phillip Danault is the Plekanec heir-apparent. He’s come back strong from his injury. Right now he seems to be the only legitimate centre on the hockey team. He centred Galchenyuk and Hudon again.
….Jonathan Drouin is playing like he can hardly wait to be relieved of the duties he has been forced tos shoulder as a centreman. There were times in this game where his mind seemed to be elsewhere. He can’t do the basic things we expect of NHL centremen which includes defending in his own end and winning faceoffs. He also took a terrible offensive zone tripping penalty in the third period.
….Speaking of faceoffs; the Canadiens were at 33% in the game. Drouin lost 14 of 18.
….A lot of heavy lifting from Nicolas Deslauriers in the game. Only de la Rose had more than his six hits.
….The selection of David Schlemko in the sixth round of the shootout ahead of Max Pacioretty or even Brendan Gallagher has the second guessers out in full force. Claude Julien said he has had success in the past, apparently in San Jose. Really?
….The Canadiens have been shut out nine times this season. That’s a franchise record and most in the NHL this season.
The Canadiens close out the four game home-stand Wednesday against the Islanders and then it back on the road where, as previously noted, they have been atrocious. Five games that will take the Canadiens through the Islanders and New Jersey back-to-back Friday and Saturday then New Jersey, Florida, Tampa and Columbus.