It may seem like I’m stating the obvious but I’ll say it anyways – les Canadiens are Not Ready For Prime Time.
During this shortened season, with the Habs stylin’, all of us fans were on a major high, dreaming dreams of Cup glory, of bringing Lord Stanley’s mythic chalice back to its rightful home chez nous on the 20th anniversary of Montreal’s last championship.
Then we all came crashing back down to Earth with that absolute and total meltdown that smashed our reveries to teenie weenie pieces in the last two weeks of the regular season and that downright horrifying series against the Senators. You remember that great Nicolas Roeg/David Bowie movie The Man Who Fell to Earth? This was The Team That Fell to Earth. Smash!!
But even after that, the dreamers kept dreaming. The oh-so-slick Marc Bergevin performed some great magic tricks with his season-end press conference, making all of our worries disappear with his wit, charm, good lucks and pink tie. Carey Price feels like a hobbit in a hole? No worries, I’ll be his Gandalf and go to Loblaws for him, says Bergevin. Bergevin talks a great game.
And don’t get me wrong. I think he’s a terrific hockey executive, the first good one the Habs have had on mahogany row for years and he’s going to do good things with the team.
All I’m saying today is that he has one helluva a job ahead of him because the previous bosses have left him with one broken franchise. Like the rest of you, I’ve been watching this fine Cup final and like every Habs fan not wearing blinkers I’m realizing that Les Boys are not anywhere near ready to compete at this level of hockey.
At every position, Montreal quite simply is not even in the ballpark. (Eds. note: Shouldn’t that be ‘hockey arena’?) Goaltending? See ‘hobbit in a hole’ section above. Is Price as good as Corey Crawford? No. Tuukka Rask? You really need to ask? Did you see him in the first period last night when the Hawks were throwing everything at him?
Defense? I’m looking for solid, big tough bruisers on the Habs blueline and I’m not liking what I see, other than the injured Alexei Emelin. You know I love P.K. Subban and he totally deserved to win the Norris Trophy. But he needs some gritty teammates to complement his razzle-dazzle offense.
Up front? That’s where things get downright scary when you compare the Habs to the Bruins or the Blackhawks. Listen I’ll go easy on the Habs. I won’t even bother to try to match the Smurfs…..I mean Habs with the Bruins first-liners Milan Lucic, David Krejci and Nathan Horton. That’s just not fair.
But let’s just cast a glance at that third line that brilliant coach Claude Julien cooked up half way through the game with Daniel Paille, Chris Kelly and Tyler Seguin. They produced both Bruins goals, including the heroic overtime winner from Paille, and let’s just be honest for a second and admit that that would be one fine line to have coached by Michel Therrien in Montreal.
The Blackhawks’ forwards. Toews. Kane. Hossa. Let’s just not go there. And let’s not even go into the discussion of how the Habs’ two first-line centres are…..well how do I put this politely? OK here’s the polite version – Plekanec and Desharnais are small, under-achievers.
Look I’m not despairing here. I’m just saying let’s be realistic about Montreal. This team has been beat down into the ground by two decades of mediocre management and it’s not going to suddenly be transformed with one wave of Gandalf’s wand into a Cup contender.