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Tuesday, January 7, 2014

Monday Musings: Things I Think I Think



Greetings Habs Addicts,

Photo Credit: CBC.ca
Welcome to the first of what I plan on making a weekly in-season contribution here at Habs Addict.  Since Rob Elbaz is doing a great job recapping the week that was in his Three Stars of The Week column every Sunday, I've decided to give us something to spark each new week on Monday.  Each Monday, I'll reflect on some of the events of the previous week, rumours and news that has been floating around in the media and the Twitterverse (#mtlhockey).  The hope is to spark a lively debate in our comments section with our wonderful readers.  As such, I shall commence my Monday Musings.

- In 5 of the past 7 games, the Habs have allowed 4 or more goals against; losing 4 of those games. The goaltending had been stellar up until this stretch. Carey Price has allowed 4+ goals in 5 of his past 10 starts; however he has also won 5 of those 10 starts with a shutout in the mix. While the defense surely harbors some of the blame, Price does sport a mediocre 3.01 goals against average with an .890 save percentage over those past 10 starts. Those numbers may be acceptable if you're Ondrej Pavelec of the Winnipeg Jets, but not if you're Carey Price of the Montreal Canadiens who happens to be the potential starting goalie for the Canadian Olympic team next month. Expecations are higher for you in these roles. The safe assumption is that this is simply a blip on the radar and not the beginning of the second-half collapse in goal that we witnessed last season with Carey Price. With better defensive play in front of him and better coaching from Stephane Waite on the sidelines, he’ll right the ship.  He’s still going to be the starting goalie for Team Canada in Sochi.

- Speaking of the Olympics, PK Subban cemented his spot (in my eyes) on the Canadian Olympic roster with his eye-popping performance in the 6-4shootout with the Dallas Stars this past Thursday (January 2).  Subban finished the game with 1 goal, 3 assists – all at even strength – and completed many a breakout pass, contributed 6 hits and set up both of Max Pacioretty’s goals (Patches had 2 goals, 2 assists himself).  Subban is an elite puckmover, the reigning Norris Trophy winner and ESPN has Subban has its mid-season Norris Trophy winner as well.  While much fuss is made about his defensive play, it’s worth noting that Subban has never been a minus player in any level of professional hockey for his career (career +27 in 245 NHL games; +46 in 77 AHL games; +77 in 234 OHL games).  He may not be used consistently as a penalty killer, but powerplay points don’t positively affect your +/- either.  He’s making the Olympic team and he’ll be a force to be reckoned with in Sochi.

- Daniel Briere ended 2013 and started 2014 as a healthy scratch.  He missed time earlier this season with a concussion and overall has appeared in 30 games, contributing 7 goals and 6 assists.  He returned to the lineup against the Senators on Saturday night (January 4) and potted 2 goals and 1 assist, to help the Habs earn a point in a 4-3 overtime loss.  Briere started the night on the checking line with Travis Moen and Michael Bournival, but played the majority of his 13 minutes with Brian Gionta and Tomas Plekanec; these two being the most talented linemates he’s had all season.   His numbers projected over a full 82-game season would be 19 goals and 35 points.  He’s not going to play in 82 games. He’s also taking up $4 million in salary cap space.  If anyone offered to take him off our hands, Marc Bergevin will be running out of the Bell Centre offices yelling “Start the car! START THE CAR!”  This is one new addition that has failed to make the desired impact.

- On the topic of the new additions, George Parros is still sidelined with a concussion.  This is his second concussion of the season, both suffered during fights.  While ESPN had a great article about Parros, his fighting style and his recovery from his first concussion earlier this season, this second one has us wondering whether its time for him to hang up the gloves entirely.  Parros has been sporadically used this season when healthy and while he brings an element of toughness to the lineup, his statline reads 0 goals, 0 assists, 1 shot on goal and 42 penalty minutes in 9 games.  In those 9 games he’s averaged 3.42 minutes of ice time and is a -5; opponents score an average of 1 goal against every 7.06 minutes of ice time Parros receives.   Montreal is 3-6 in the 9 games he’s played in.  Parros is one of the greatest heavyweights in the NHL, but the game has evolved and at 34-years old, this should be the final season for the Greek God of Fist and a disappointing one at that.

- Michel Therrien has made Alexei Emelin and Rafael Diaz healthy scratches in each of the past two games (Emelin against Dallas; Diaz against Ottawa).  This allowed Douglas Murray to be active after 3 straight games as a healthy scratch to end 2013.  Murray responded with solid play against Ottawa, setting up two Daniel Briere goals.  For the season, the quartet of Diaz, Emelin, Murray & Francis Bouillon have gone a combined 0 goals, 20 assists in 119 games collectively. They are also a combined -31 on the season.  Diaz has been the strongest of the group, collecting 11 assists in his 42 games played; however 6 of those came in the month of October.  Emelin will receive a pass, as he missed training camp and a portion of the season coming back from a nasty knee injury suffered last season.  However, outside of Subban, Markov and Gorges there’s been a revolving door of mediocrity on the blueline.  With youngsters Jarred Tinordi, Nate Beaulieu and Greg Pateryn waiting in the wings, its time to cut the dead weight (all 245 pounds of Douglas Murray) and replace some smurfs (Bouillon is only 5’8”; Diaz 5’11”) with the talented and hungry trio currently residing in Hamilton.

That concludes the things I think I think for this first week of 2014.

Three Questions from my musings:

A) Is his play over the last 10 games indicative of Carey Price collapsing again, or just a blip all goalies hit during a long NHL season?

B) Has Danny Briere received a fair shake as a member of the Montreal Canadiens?

C) Is it time to bring up Jarred Tinordi, Nathan Beaulieu or Greg Pateryn from Hamilton to replace Murray, Bouillon or Diaz?


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

1 comments:

I will give it a shot Nick. I think Carey Price is just fine its just a cycle goalies go through. I also think they rely on Price a bit to much and perhaps Budaj should get a few more starts then he does instead of back to backs he should get a few solo starts. Its a catch 22 question because the defense hasn't been as good lately which attributes to price giving up a few more goals. Emelin perhaps came back to soon he hasn't been the same intimidating force. Maybe Tinordi gets another look I admit I don't follow Bulldogs games to make a fair assessment. Diaz should be traded I think he has been weak defensively which also leads for Price needs to be sharper. I am sure somebody needs a puck moving defensemen perhaps for a bigger forward who needs a change of scenery. Briere is showing is age. I was one who liked the signing it was a short term contract but he has done well the last 2 games. He will need to do more with the short term loss of Galchenyuk but Briere always plays big in bigger games so I wouldn't give up on him yet. I do like how Therrien hasn't been afraid to bench someone who isn't producing at anytime to give a message not only to the player but the team as a whole to show no one is bigger then the team. Overall the Habs are still a player or two away to seriously contend. They aren't an "A" team but they are the best "B" team if that makes sense. They still need to get bigger with a trade with the right partner a way to give themselves a shot without mortgaging the future. Health is also important which they are fairly healthy as of late but any serious injuries they don't have the depth and would be toast.

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