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Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Three Possible First Round Playoff Matchups

With eight games remaining on their schedule and the playoffs just around the corner, it's time to look ahead to the possible 1st round match-ups. Currently Montreal leads the NHL with 100 points following last night's overtime loss in Nashville. Very likely, Montreal will be 1st, 2nd, or 3rd in the Eastern conference. I will look at the three most likely match-ups for Montreal (in no particular order).

Washington Capitals (currently 7th in the Eastern Conference)

So far Montreal has swept the season series with one game left to be played in Montreal on April 2nd.

Why Montreal would win this series

The Habs have more depth in their line-up thanks to the genius moves made by GM Marc Bergevin. Also, Montreal can rely on the experience of shutting down Steven Stamkos, comparable to the monumental task of shutting down Ovechkin. This season, Montreal has seemed hungry to excel in the NHL after going deep in last year's playoffs. I just don't think Washington has the depth to beat Montreal four times.

Why Washington could win this series

One big reason Montreal could fall is the presence of superstar Alex Ovechkin. Ovie has the skill to single-handedly take over a game. There aren't too many players with the kind of impact on a game as Ovechkin. Pittsburgh's Sidney Crosby and TB's Stamkos are two other players that are game changers. Montreal cannot give Ovechkin any time or space or he will burn them. Another major factor to consider is the man behind the Capitals bench in Barry Trotz. Trotz has a reputation for coaxing a lot out of a little. He's so good with fringe players that he could squeeze water from a stone.

Predicted result: Montreal in 6 games

Boston Bruins (currently in 9th place in the Eastern Conference; one point back of the 2nd WC spot)

This is the second likeliest first round opponent for the Habs. Montreal swept the season series vs. the Bruins. I don't expect this one will end in a sweep. The Bruins are good enough to steal a game or two.

Why Montreal would win this series

Simply put, Montreal matches up very well against the physical Bruins. Also, Boston has an aging stale core. They virtually have the same cast of players that won the 2011 Stanley Cup. Montreal, on the other hand, has a young vibrant roster that should contend for several years. Most of their core players (PK Subban, Carey Price, Tomas Plekanec) are just entering their prime years, I just don't see Boston lasting through a seven game series against Montreal. Oh and Bruins goalie Tuukka Rask has historically struggled against the Habs.

Why Boston could win this series

As mentioned above this will be a very physical series and the physicality will take its toll on the Habs. Maybe Subban might be playing through an injury and that is impacting his effectiveness. Boston might be an older team, but this means they have more experience. Also, one has to be concerned with Montreal's struggles to score. There have been more than a few games this season where the Habs have struggled to score and in the playoffs it's very hard to nurse a one goal lead.

Predicted result: Montreal in 7 games

Ottawa Senators (currently 8th in the Eastern conference)

If the playoffs started today, this is the team Montreal would face. Ottawa won 2 of 3 games vs. Montreal this year. In my opinion, this is the toughest of the potential first round opponents. See below to know the reason why.

Why Montreal would win this series

The biggest advantage Montreal has over Ottawa is playoff experience. Ottawa has not been a playoff team since the 2012-2013 season. They are also a very young team, likely prone to mistakes. Yes, Ottawa is on a hot streak, but eventually they will lose again. To win this series, Montreal must stay out of the box and win the first two games of the series. This will create doubt in the heads of the Senators players.

Why Ottawa could win this series

Ottawa is on a ridiculous hot streak. At one point, they were 14 points out of a playoff position. A lot has to do with the stellar play of rookie goalie Andrew Hammond, aka the "Hamburglar". Hammond has not lost a game in regulation, going 14-0-1 during the streak. There have been countless goalies in history (Ken Dryden, Tim Thomas, and Jonathan Quick) who have gotten hot and carried their teams to the holy grail.

Predicted result: Montreal in 7 games

Two teams I'm glad Montreal won't face in the first round

The two teams are the Tampa Bay Lightning and the Buffalo Sabres. The Sabres thankfully are in full tank mode and have officially been eliminated from playoff contention. The Sabres and Habs met four times this season with Buffalo taking three of four. Buffalo has the potential to be a dangerous team in the next five years depending on how well they draft and develop their players. Tampa Bay, if you will recall, Montreal swept in the first round last season. However, the Lightning were missing two key pieces. Starting goalie Ben Bishop was out with a major elbow injury and forward Steven Stamkos had only recently returned from a fractured leg. Stamkos was not 100% and wasn't in game shape. This season, both players are back and that has made a massive difference to the Lightning. Should Montreal get past the first round, they will almost certainly face TB at some point in the playoffs, Likely in the EC finals.

Bottom Line

I think Montreal will win the first round, but they can be their own worst enemy. Should the Habs take any one of the Bruins, Senators or Capitals lightly, they will be in tough. The teams that make the NHL playoffs are all capable of doing damage. Montreal must capitalize on their scoring chances, stay out of the penalty box and hope the bounces go their way.

The Habs could also face the Detroit Red Wings in the first round if Tampa Bay wins the division.

Go Habs Go

A Habs fan blogging from BC

Thursday, March 12, 2015

Habs' Parenteau Must Seize The Opportunity

Acquired in the off-season from the Colorado Avalanche in exchange for disgruntled F Daniel Briere, Pierre-Alexandre Parenteau is currently having a very difficult season with his new team. Having played only 41 of the 67 games of the Canadiens due to a concussion and several games spent in the press box as a healthy scratch, the 31-year-old right winger has recorded only 6 goals and 9 assists for 15 points to go along with a -5 rating and 20 penalty minutes.

Currently 10th in the NHL with four shootout goals (in six attempts), Parenteau is blessed with skills and talent, but like Briere, he is not the kind of player that Michel Therrien prefers. As we all know, Therrien is fond of defensively responsible players, which is why Lars Eller and Dale Weise get so much playing time despite their limited offensive production. If you are too creative with the puck, you get a slap on the wrist.

Now, with the Canadiens struggling to put the puck in the back of the net, Parenteau's agent, the talkative Allan Walsh, went public yesterday to urge the Canadiens to put him back into the line-up in order to spark the Habs' sputtering attack.
"We saw the tweet from his agent and that made us think seriously about bringing him back to the lineup," a tongue-in-cheek Therrien said after confirming the winger would return for a game Thursday night against the Ottawa Senators.
Well, it seems like Michel Therrien learned about Walsh's comments this morning as he decided to dress Parenteau tonight against Ottawa at Bell Centre. The skilled winger will finally be used as an offensive weapon on the team's second line alongside Tomas Plekanec and Alex Galchenyuk. When he was acquired in the off-season by GM Marc Bergevin, that was certainly not to be used on the fourth line or to watch games from the press box.

A former offensive dynamo alongside John Tavares and Paul Stastny, Parenteau recorded 56 goals and 107 assists for 163 points in 209 games between 2010 and 2013, three seasons during which he was 100% healthy. That's 0.78 point per game during that stretch, which would give him 52 points this season if he had played all games with an elite playmaker and had avoided injuries. 

Well, instead of trusting the skillful winger with über-talented players such as Max Pacioretty or Alex Galchenyuk, Michel Therrien preferred to use him on the team's fourth line with grinders such as Manny Malhotra and Michael Bournival: a recipe for disaster. Still, the offensive-minded forward must display more passion, grit and determination on the ice to show that he's hungry and ready to contribute to the team's success.

The Canadiens are currently ranked 22nd in the NHL with only 171 goals scored (2.51 GPG), the lowest of all 16 playoff teams as of today. On the other hand, thanks to the brilliant play of netminder Carey Price, Montreal is ranked 1st in the league defensively with a mere 144 goals allowed (2.11 GPG).

The proverb says that defense wins championships, but it doesn't hurt to be able to score more than two goals a game on a consistent basis, especially in the gruelling NHL playoffs.

It's time to seize your opportunity Pierre-Alexandre, and prove your detractors wrong!

Do you think that the PAP is the solution to the Habs' offensive woes?


Follow me on Twitter at @FredPoulin98

Tuesday, March 3, 2015

The Trials and Tribulations of Trade Deadline Day

Being a general manager in the NHL is no easy feat. It requires patience, a daring persona and, above all, he must not listen to sports talk shows. After the head coach, the GM is the second biggest lightning rod for fans to criticize. When the team is playing well, the GM is a genius for trading or signing the star player (insert name of move that worked here). However, when the team is struggling, the GM is terrible at his job and should be fired immediately (insert move that backfired here).

Salary Cap

A major consideration GMs need to make when trading players is the salary cap. It's not like pre-2004 when teams could spend as much or as little money as they wanted. Every season, there is both a floor, where the thriftiest team must spend to and a ceiling, where the most free spending team can spend to.  The salary cap generally goes up every year but GMs can't assume that to be the case. Next season, it is predicted the salary cap will only go up a bit, due to the weaker Canadian dollar. There are ways around the cap, such as injuries, where if a player is out long term with an injury, that player can be placed on the injured reserve list and his salary won't count against the cap. There used to be a buyout window where GMs could buy out up to two expensive contracts without consequences against the cap, but that ended this season. At trade deadline day, many GMs opt for the rent-a-player route, taking on an expiring contract of a player who they might not have been able to afford at the beginning of the season. Because most of said player's deal has already been paid, the amount owed works within the salary cap restraints

Player Chemistry

GMs also need to consider how well the team is playing as well as the demeanor and history of the player they are pursuing/looking to offload. Sometimes, a GM might envision a player playing on a certain line or with a certain defensive partner, but for whatever reason the line/defensive pairing doesn't work. Maybe one or more players are going through a cold streak where nothing is working. Or on the flip side, the player might be red hot and be able to overcome any chemistry issues. Also, when a player switches teams, they must learn a new system and it's possible that the offensive or defensive strategy doesn't mesh with the player's skill set. Alex Edler of the Canucks is a perfect example. Last season under John Torterella, Edler was a hot mess under Torterella's complex system, but he has bounced back nicely under the tutelage of Willy Desjardins. Another prime example is Habs forward Dale Weise, who fell out of favor with the Canucks, but has thrived playing for the Habs. This isn't video game hockey where one can make any line combination work; players are human and have tendencies/playing styles that don't work in every hockey system. However, the same player might be good in the locker room and act as a guide for the younger players.

The Intangibles

After taking into consideration the bigger picture. First of all, where is the team in the standings? A team comfortably in a playoff spot might want to add that piece or two that might propel them into the Stanley Cup finals. On the other hand, if the team is trending downwards, perhaps accumulating draft picks and getting rid of players unlikely to re-sign with the team might be worthwhile. This season, there is a big name in Connor McDavid, projected to be selected first overall in June's draft who's deemed to be NHL ready now. It is a huge risk, however to put all one's marbles in the hands of a player who has yet to play an NHL game. The NHL is substantially more difficult than the junior hockey leagues. There have been many players drafted high who didn't succeed, Pat Falloon and Alexandre Daigle to name a few. Edmonton had three straight 1st overall picks from 2010-2012 and the team is in the mix to obtain yet another 1st overall pick. As a whole, GMs need to make a move sometimes, but every move they make will either turn into gold or blow up in their faces

My take on the Habs trades this season

Habs GM Marc Bergevin has been one of the most active GMs in the league this season. I will briefly examine his trades since the season started here. His first two trades, made within ten days of each other were more or less to allow the younger players more ice time. First, center Travis Moen was traded to Dallas for defenseman Sergei Gonchar. Gonch has been a solid addition to the line-up, mentoring youngster Nathan Beaulieu. He can be seen on the Habs 2nd unit power play and while he is getting older he can still shoot the puck. Nine days later, Bergevin dispatched the mercurial Rene Bourque to Anaheim for the bloated contract of Bryan Allen. This deal was necessary because Bourque was struggling and after being sent to the AHL, he was a threat to be a locker room cancer. Even though Allen really hasn't worked out either, I'd take him over Bourque messing up the chemistry in the Habs locker room and the fact that Bourque had one more year to his contract. More recently, the Habs, in a twist of irony traded Jiri Sekac to Anaheim for Devante Smith-Pelly. Smith-Pelly can play in the Habs top six and Sekac gets a change of scenery. Sekac never really earned the trust of coach Michel Therrien. Finally, on deadline day, the Habs added some defensive depth in Jeff Petry. They also acquired Torrey Mitchell for prospect Jack Nevins and a low pick. Mitchell will add depth and a scoring threat to the Habs line-up Finally, they picked up Brian Flynn for a late round pick from Buffalo. On the latter three deals, it is too early to judge whether the players will succeed or not in Montreal. We will find out in the coming weeks. #GoHabsGo

A Habs fan blogging from BC

Monday, March 2, 2015

Montreal Canadiens: Trades And Rumors

With only a few hours remaining to the NHL trade deadline, Habs fan are eager to see what General Manager Marc Bergevin will do today. I will post below the trades he made as well as all the rumors involving Canadiens players.

Completed Trades:

Trade Rumors:

Bournival not in the plans of the team any more.

The Habs are currently trying to trade P-A Parenteau.

Follow me on Twitter at @FredPoulin98

Friday, February 27, 2015

PK Subban: Norris Trophy Candidate

When Montreal Canadiens defenseman PK Subban agreed to an eight-year contract extension worth $72 million in early August of 2014, most fans were relieved that General Manager Marc Bergevin had finally locked up his bona-fide blue liner for almost a decade.

The face of the storied franchise along with All-Star netminder Carey Price, Subban is now under contract through the 2021-22 NHL seasonThe winner of the prestigious Norris Trophy as the league's top defenseman in 2013, Subban notched 10 goals and 43 assists for 53 points in 82 games last season, good for fifth in points among defenders after finishing tied for the NHL lead with 11 goals and 27 helpers for 38 points in 42 games a season earlier during the lockout-shortened season.


After a rather slow start this season, scoring three goals and four assists for seven points in eleven October games, Subban has picked up his play as of late for the Eastern Conference leading Habs. With one game left in February, the 25-year-old Subban has already recorded one goal and 13 assists for 14 points in 13 games to go along with +7 differential.

The Toronto native played a season high 35:21 minutes on February 14th against the Toronto Maple Leafs. He is now ranked second in the NHL with 12 goals and 35 assists for 47 points with a +14 rating in 61 contests, trailing Flames defenseman Mark Giordano (who left last night's game with an injury) by a single point.

Among rearguards, Subban is second with four game-winning goals and third with six power play tallies and that despite shooting the puck far less often than last season (1.98 SPG as opposed to 2.49 SPG). As a result of injuries to veterans Alexei Emelin and Sergei Gonchar, his playing time has increased recently and on the season he is now playing 26:05 minutes on average (6th in the NHL), which is slightly more than his defensive partner Andrei Markov (25:04).

With Subban and Markov on the ice, the Canadiens are dominant and dictate the play on most nights as shown by last night's performance in Columbus when the duo combined for two goals and three assists with a +10 differential in a 5-2 win.


With a CF% of 53.9%  and a FF% of 52.9%, Subban ranks second on a team, which is not known for its puck-possession ability with players like Manny Malhotra having a putrid CF% of 35.5... Starting a little over 50% of the plays in the offensive zone, Subban is used in every situation this season. Playing on average 3.33 minutes on the power play and exactly 2.00 on the penalty kill every game, Pernell Karl has turned into one of the most complete rearguards in the NHL. He is now a game-changer like Shea Weber and Drew Doughty

The electrifying puck-moving defenseman showed everyone he can also perform during the playoffs, potting 5 goals and 9 assists for 14 points in 17 games last Spring. He now has 30 points (10 g, 20 a) in 43 contests during his young career, so he doesn't only produce during the regular season.

The colourful Subban also gives back to the local community by spending time with children and by being a role model off the ice for everyone.

Whether you like him or not, there is no denying that Subban is loaded with talent and pride, even though he was not even selected for the NHL All-Star game this season in Columbus, the league selecting "marquee" names such as Justin Faulk over him to have a representative of each team at the festivities.

The flashy smooth-skating rearguard enjoys the limelight and thrives under pressure, which makes him the perfect leader for a hockey-starving market such as Montreal. Not afraid to speak French in public even though he is still not fluent, Subban is as serious as it gets training-wise, which is why he is so strong with the puck and battles along the board.

His booming slap shot, his amazing stick-handling and his thunderous hits are only some of the skills that make him the complete player he is now... and he will only get better as he matures and stops taking the occasional stupid penalty.

Whether you like him or not, Subban is now a strong candidate for the Norris Trophy again this season.

Do you think the Subbanator will win the prized hardware in 2014-15?


Follow me on Twitter at @FredPoulin98

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Sekac vs Smith-Pelly Trade Analysis

Earlier today, Habs general manager Marc Bergevin acquired forward Devante Smith-Pelly from the Anaheim Ducks in exchange of forward Jiri Sekac. Smith-Pelly, 22 years old, has played 129 NHL games, keeping a scoring record of 14 goals and 26 assists for 40 points as well as 30 penalty minutes. He has also appeared in 12 playoff games, scoring 5 goals. As for Sekac, also 22 years old, he has started 50 NHL games, scoring 7 goals and adding 9 assists for 16 points, while spending 18 minutes in the penalty box. Was the move worth it? What does that imply for the Montreal Canadiens future? Would have it been better to keep Sekac? I personally think it is a great trade for both teams and here's why.

Anaheim is getting a talented forward who has never been able to find his niche here in Montreal. Sure he has only been with the Habs for 50 games: however, he has struggled to align two solid back-to-back performances. I admit he was used to a light schedule, having played in the KHL before; however, he should have been a little more steady. Therrien used him a couple times on a second line, as well as a third line. He gave him some chances. Maybe not enough will you say, and I'll have to agree with this to some extent. However, we must keep in mind Sekac is pretty frail (6', 174-lb) and Montreal has an over-abundance of small players. In Anaheim, he will be able to prove himself on one of the top two lines, replacing either Patrick Maroon, Emerson Etem or Kyle Palmieri, with Matt Beleskey on the shelf right now.

In Smith-Pelly (6', 222-lb), the Canadiens are getting a strong and physical forward who just loves to spend most of his game in front of the opposing goalie, just like Gallagher. In terms of bodychecks, DSP is currently leading Montreal's roster with a total of 147 bodychecks, ten short of Alexei Emelin (who is still injured, which is why I am not counting him). With the playoffs starting in about a month or so, this is a pretty good time to add some muscle, especially if the Habs were to play against Boston, Philadelphia or New York for example. Will the newly acquired player be able to play on the top two lines ? I doubt so. We never know, but I highly doubt he will. However, he will be a great addition to the 3rd or 4th line, especially with Bournival (5'11'', 196-lb) and Thomas (5'09'', 176-lb). It will also give Bergevin an option to trade the enigmatic Lars Eller, since De La Rose has pretty much acquired the 3rd line center spot. We must also not forget DSP already knows some of his new teammates, having played in the World Junior Championship with Bournival, Gallagher and Beaulieu.

It is also worth nothing Bergevin will save just a little north of $500,000 in salary. Is he planning to open up some money for a bigger trade? There is a pretty solid defenseman in Toronto named Roman Polak that would be a great addition to Montreal's defensive squad and word is there could be talks ongoing involving Bournival and Thomas. Even if it's just a rumor, things are definitely getting interesting.

All in all, I think this is a pretty fair trade for both teams. Only time will tell who will have the edge on that move, but we must keep in mind this is currently not a major trade. So what do you guys think? Would you have given Sekac more time to prove what he is worth? Do you think getting Smith-Pelly means Eller is on the move?

Follow me on twitter: @Azgarde54

Trade Deadline: Will The Habs Address Their Scoring Woes?

Newly acquired Devante Smith-Pelly
Greetings Habs Addicts!

Much has been said about the lack of scoring by the Canadiens this season. While we are sitting in first place in the Eastern Conference by a point - with two and three games at hand over the New York Islanders and Tampa Bay Lightning, respectively - is it safe to say that the play of Carey Price is the sole reason we are in this position?

Carey Price has been outstanding. He has been outstanding since Michel Therrien took over and implemented his often-maligned system. He began to finally turn the corner after Jaroslav Halak was dealt and the franchise committed themselves to the former 5th-overall NHL draft pick. Carey was handed the reigns, matured and has not looked back. He is now among the elite of NHL goaltending. As it stands now, it is a two-horse battle for the Vezina Trophy between Price and Nashville's Pekka Rinne. The only difference is, Nashville can score goals for Rinne. Aside from Max Pacioretty, Montreal cannot. The Predators have scored 181 goals heading into Tuesday, good enough for 7th best in the NHL. The Canadiens have scored 157 goals. Good enough for 11th. In their own conference. Overall, that is 23rd best in the NHL. Big difference in support on a nightly basis.
Photo Credit: ESPN NHL Standings

With a record of 38-16-5, the Canadiens are amongst the elite teams in the NHL. But heading into the playoffs, is it largely smoke and mirrors based on our elite goaltending? Aside from Max Pacioretty, where would our other top-six forwards play on contending teams?
Would Brendan Gallagher be a top-six forward for Nashville or Chicago?
Would David Desharnais get top-six minutes in St. Louis or Anaheim?
Would Dale Weise be playing on the top line for either New York team?

In a gritty best-of-seven series would the Canadiens be able to match the fire-power needed to make a run to the Stanley Cup? Would they even make the Eastern Finals again this year? Are we setting ourselves up for heartbreak by believing they can?

The line-up this year is largely the same as last season minus Thomas Vanek. Danny Briere was swapped for P.A. Parenteau and the contribution is largely the same as last year - next to nil. The kids have been called up to provide some energy, but will Jacob De La Rose and Christian Thomas be able to provide the secondary scoring required for a long playoff run? Can Lars Eller flip the switch again this year? Possible? Will Devante Smith-Pelly (acquired in a trade announced earlier today for Jiri Sekac) be a difference maker here in Montreal during hockey's second season?

Possible? Sure.
Likely? Not very.

There is a big difference between the trade deadline this year and the trade deadline last year. There is no Thomas Vanek available.

Among the pending unrestricted free agents, the top forwards include Mike Ribeiro from Nashville, Mats Zuccarello and Martin St. Louis from the New York Rangers, Justin Williams from the defending Stanley Cup Champion Los Angeles Kings and Antoine Vermette from the Arizona Coyotes. Of those names, only Vermette is likely to move anywhere at the trade deadline.
Justin Williams

Los Angeles is currently on the playoff bubble and Justin Williams is the kind of player you want to have in your top-six heading in the playoffs. However, if the Kings fall out of contention, could 'Mr. Game Seven' be a viable target for Marc Bergevin? The 33-year-old Williams is not an elite scorer, but has an offensive game and he steps up his effort in the playoffs every year. With an expiring cap hit of $3.65 million, the right-handed shot could be the equivalent of a Thomas Vanek acquisition for the Canadiens down the stretch. Williams is not likely to be dealt and he might very well have a movement clause of some sort in his contract; however, his name is one worth remembering as Bergevin has surprised us in the past and could work some magic if the Kings decide to mail it in.

Amongst the non-free agents, the sad sack Toronto Maple Leafs are officially rebuilding. Superstar forward Phil Kessel is likely out of most-teams price range at the trade deadline, more likely to be moved during the summer. Joffrey Lupul is talented but never healthy, either. The Edmonton Oilers have names like Taylor Hall, Jordan Eberle and Nail Yakupov forever rumoured to be available. All three of these young players would also be pricey acquisitions.

Jaromir Jagr
Jaromir Jagr has openly stated that he would like to be traded to a contending team; however, the New Jersey Devils still feel they are a playoff-contending team. Frankly, trading for Jagr now would be disappointing. Jagr has slowed down this year considerably, physically and statistically. This is a player who wished to join the Canadiens as a free agent to play with countryman and friend Tomas Plekanec four seasons ago. And each summer thereafter as a free agent was spurned by the Habs. Subsequently, he put up some solid numbers for the Philadelphia Flyers, Dallas Stars, Boston Bruins and New Jersey Devils, including 24 goals and 67 points last year for the Devils at age 42. During that stretch and the Habs have had Danny Briere and P.A. Parenteau acquired to provide next to nothing positive at similar cap hits. Bringing in Jagr now, as age has started to take an increased toll on his overall numbers (11 goals, 29 points, -9 in 56 games this season) would be almost too-little, too-late. What better mentor for young players than a future first-ballot Hall of Fame player who has a work ethic second to none and a willingness to mentor younger players. Not signing Jagr originally - tremendous resume, skill set as well as size - was a serious miss by management in this author's opinion.

So what does Marc Bergevin have up his sleeve for the trade deadline? With the injuries to Alexei Emelin and Sergei Gonchar, added depth on the blue line is likely coming and has been mentioned at length already. But where are the goals coming from this time? Thomas Vanek provided a huge spark last year as the team made a huge push into the playoffs. He fell off big time during the playoffs and essentially had the entire city sour on him by the end of the season. Vanek ended up signing in his adopted hometown of Minnesota as the entire league expected he would, but at a fraction of the price expected. His playoff effort was duly noted by the Wild brass for sure. There is no Thomas Vanek available at the trade deadline this season, either.

In the playoffs, you need to score goals and you need balanced scoring. Games get tighter-checking, and goals start coming at a premium. The defensive effort has been strong again and the Canadiens received the balanced scoring last year against Tampa and Boston as they advanced past those two teams. For the most part, goals have been provided by a committee this season too. But to expect us to go deep into the playoffs as a favorite this year with nary a point-per-game player in the lineup is asking for a lot. Something has to be done. If some added scoring punch is not found by the trade deadline, Carey Price better continue to stand on his head because if he slips even a little bit, this season could end a lot earlier than we all hope. Or expect.

Nick Malofy is a transplanted Montrealer, currently living in evil LeafLand. He is a contributor here at and give him a follow, as he can often be found rambling on Twitter.