I'd like to take this opportunity to thank Kamal for giving me a shot at being a big-time writer on HabsAddict.com. I look forward to the many comments and insults which are sure to follow me on here!
Now that the formalities are out of the way, lets get down to business.
With Round One of the draft in the books writing about it seems like a logical choice for my first post. However, since it's pretty well covered on the Interweb, I thought I would pick a different topic.
So instead I give you "The Season That Almost Was".
As the entire hockey world knows, the 2010-2011 Habs made an early exit from the playoffs this year, losing in a heart-wrenching series against their long-standing nemesis, the Boston Bruins. While some say that they were outplayed, I have a few problems with that, given how good the Canadiens were this year.
Don't forget that the Montreal Canadiens won their season series against the Bruins this year, four games to two. Forget the so called Beatdown in Boston. The Habs only lost that game by two goals, remember?
They also won their games against Vancouver, two games to none. Oh and they also won their season series versus San Jose and Tampa Bay. The Canadiens really only had problems with the powerhouses in the West, and that's sort of forgivable since they hardly get to play them anymore.
I also think they would have had a fantastic shot against Philadelphia, what with the Flyers' goaltending woes and the probable return of Max Pacioretty.
When you compare the team's numbers to the Vancouver Canucks, Montreal actually looks very good.
Montreal was in a tight divisional race all season, with three teams in the Northeast making it into the post season. Vancouver, on the other hand, walked away with their division, setting the bar so high—no other team in the Northwest made the playoffs.
Montreal won 14 of their divisional games and Vancouver won 18. Not too bad considering Montreal was in a much more skilled division.
In inter-conference play, Montreal won eight games and Vancouver won 11. Again, very comparable numbers.
However, in their own respective conference Montreal not only looks good with 35 wins versus 45 for Vancouver, but if you factor in the goals-for and goals-against Montreal—had they scored maybe 20 more goals in the regular season—would have been a top shelf team.
After all, the Habs had one player over 50 points in the regular season and only three over 40.
Vancouver had five players at 50 points or more, three of them were over 70 and they even had a 104-point season from a Daniel Sedin.
A few more goals goes a long way. So does an offensive coaching style and if not offensive, then at least a little more balanced.
If Montreal had a healthier blueline—a la Josh Gorges and Andrei Markov—and a slightly bigger set of forwards—a la Pacioretty—then there is no doubt in my mind they would have gone to the big show.
But, unfortunately, the title of this piece is not "The Season that is."
So that's the way I see it but what do you think? Did Montreal have nearly all the pieces in place to drink from the Cup?
HfxHabby grew up just outside of Montreal and learned early on to love the Habs. His earliest hockey memory is seeing Steve Penney play in nets. Hfxhabby is currently training his young son to be a Habs fan, to his wife's dismay, and he can still name every player on the '93 Cup winning Canadiens.
(Photo by None/Getty Images North America)