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2016-17 State of the Habs


BigTed3
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The bottom line is that the East is strong this year (well, the Metro division is), but we can match up with just about all of the other teams. Within our conference, our goaltending is matched only by that of Washington IMO; none of the other contenders have as good a goalie. Sure, Lundqvist can make a run, but we have the advantage in net over just about everyone else. Few teams have Weber and Petry as a 1-2 punch. And as stated, we finally have 4 legitimate top-line forwards. We don't have an elite top 5 forward in the league like the Pens or Caps, but Galchenyuk if healthy could be a top 10 point-getter in the NHL and Pacioretty can be a top 5 goal-scorer. The talent is there and we're finally seeing strong play at ES. We're the #1 possession team in the league since early December!

What it's going to come down to is how we're playing as we go into the playoffs and how healthy we are compared to other teams. It also comes down to luck a little bit. We have the ability to beat Washington or Pittsburgh or Columbus in a 7-game series, but they also have the ability to beat us. It's just about who shows up and who gets the bounces. What's important for now is getting our depth players and rookies some experience and using our injuries as a way of expanding on our team scoring and depth. We're lacking true 2nd-line players right now, but Lehkonen and McCarron and Danault have all shown signs they can fill some of that void. We need to give those guys more chances to take on bigger roles or else we need to make a trade for another top 6 player (like a Duchene or RNH etc.).

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Luck is always a huge factor in a 7 game series but things are looking pretty good. The unfortunate thing for us is our first round series will be an ugly draw (as of today) for a division winning team. It would be pretty tough to stomach being a 110+ point team and opening the playoffs with a toss-up series vs another team around that point total. The playoff system is pretty ridiculous right now though.

I agree it would be a perfect time for a big trade and Duchene and RNH are perfect ages to be with this core for the next 3 years, which is our clear window IMO. On Duchene it would likely have to involve Sergachev so that's a decision that would have to be made by the brass but I think I'd be comfortable with it at this point. Other than that, the PK can't be this bad so if we were to make a smaller, depth move, a depth DMan with strong PK skills would be ideal. Also it fixes the fact that we, at no point, can be an injury or two away from a Barbario - Johnston pairing when the games matter. 

There's a lot to like here with what we're seeing and we're winning despite some iffy goaltending. I didn't expect this but I'm very impressed.

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2 hours ago, roy_133 said:

Luck is always a huge factor in a 7 game series but things are looking pretty good. The unfortunate thing for us is our first round series will be an ugly draw (as of today) for a division winning team. It would be pretty tough to stomach being a 110+ point team and opening the playoffs with a toss-up series vs another team around that point total. The playoff system is pretty ridiculous right now though.

I agree it would be a perfect time for a big trade and Duchene and RNH are perfect ages to be with this core for the next 3 years, which is our clear window IMO. On Duchene it would likely have to involve Sergachev so that's a decision that would have to be made by the brass but I think I'd be comfortable with it at this point. Other than that, the PK can't be this bad so if we were to make a smaller, depth move, a depth DMan with strong PK skills would be ideal. Also it fixes the fact that we, at no point, can be an injury or two away from a Barbario - Johnston pairing when the games matter. 

There's a lot to like here with what we're seeing and we're winning despite some iffy goaltending. I didn't expect this but I'm very impressed.

It's definitely a little bit sad that you can finish first in our division and get a much worse draw than finishing 2nd or 3rd, but that's life. The rules are the same for everyone, and frankly, if you can't beat the 4th or 5th best team in another division, you probably don't deserve to win the Cup anyways. If Clb/Pit/Was finish top 3 in the Metro division, then we would theoretically get someone like the Rangers, Canes, or Flyers, followed by a 2nd round match-up with any of Sens/Leafs/Lightning/Panthers... all in all, it's not any harder than anyone in the Metro has it (BJ's could in theory get Caps and then Pens for example) or anyone in the Central, with Min, Nas, Stl, and Chi all the in same grouping. The bottom line is that the NHL is reasonably competitive right now with the salary cap, and you just don't see powerhouses with an easy course to the conference finals like you did 20-30 years ago. You might get 1 easier match-up along the way, but there's a pretty good chance you'll need to knock off 3 good teams or more to win a Cup, and that's probably how it should be.

As far as trades go, there will definitely be decisions to make. Some of those might get easier as more teams figure out they're not contenders and more players become available. I think ideally MB tries to make moves using his abundance of 2nd round picks and tries to find a way to avoid dealing Mac, Sergachev, or Lehkonen, but if you can get a real top-line player or top-pairing defenceman who's not just a rental, then it's likely worth making the move.

As for the PK, definitely significantly subpar right now, but with Carey, the law of averages says we're not going to run a 70% efficacy as we have done over the past month or so. Some of that will involve systems correction and being more aggressive on the puck carriers, some of it is going to be trying other players out there... maybe Galchenyuk and Shaw when they're back, maybe more Lehkonen or Pacioretty or Byron and guys who can put more pressure on the other team... in any case, we have some time to figure it out because of how well we've been playing 5v5. I'd much more optimistic this year being a good 5v5 team and bad special teams squad than the other way around where we needed to win special teams to win games. 

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Interestingly, Price's save percentage over the past 6 weeks is worse than that put up by Condon or Scrivens last year. Just goes to prove the point that while goaltending wasn't stellar last year, it wasn't so bad that it couldn't be overcome by a team being coached the right way. This season, we have a winning record over Price's slump. Why? Because we've played good systems hockey. Kudos to this year's team, but again, really suggests that we can't just blame last year's collapse solely on Price being injured. If anything, it further proves Therrien should have in fact been fired for last year's performance, even if he's doing much better this season.

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8 hours ago, BigTed3 said:

Interestingly, Price's save percentage over the past 6 weeks is worse than that put up by Condon or Scrivens last year. Just goes to prove the point that while goaltending wasn't stellar last year, it wasn't so bad that it couldn't be overcome by a team being coached the right way. This season, we have a winning record over Price's slump. Why? Because we've played good systems hockey. Kudos to this year's team, but again, really suggests that we can't just blame last year's collapse solely on Price being injured. If anything, it further proves Therrien should have in fact been fired for last year's performance, even if he's doing much better this season.

We also had worse SH% luck last year for a large portion of our huge slump. Our possession numbers were good until maybe February when they we completely gave up on a lost season. We had a pretty ugly PDO run for our worst stretch last year, hard to overcome no matter who's coaching and you know I'm very iffy on Therrien.

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Jack Todd on the replay disaster from last night:

http://montrealgazette.com/sports/jack-todd-kill-nhl-replay-reviews-and-let-refs-make-calls

I still think there's a role for replay in the league, but there is absolutely no excuse for the NHL getting it this wrong. Personally, I thought there was an 80% chance the Danault goal would stand and a 100% chance the Nash goal would be called back. I got both wrong, although the league explanation for the Nash goal was complete and utter nonsense. This is a situation where the NHL needs to come forward and issue a public apology to the Habs. Anything short of that just sends the message that the league is fine and dandy with the mockery that was their officiating and review panel last night. I'm sure they are fine with it (extraordinarily comfortable, as they usually are when it comes to ruling against us), but Bettman need look no further than this to figure out why he's a joke of a commissioner and why all fans hate him.

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7 hours ago, BigTed3 said:

Jack Todd on the replay disaster from last night:

http://montrealgazette.com/sports/jack-todd-kill-nhl-replay-reviews-and-let-refs-make-calls

I still think there's a role for replay in the league, but there is absolutely no excuse for the NHL getting it this wrong. Personally, I thought there was an 80% chance the Danault goal would stand and a 100% chance the Nash goal would be called back. I got both wrong, although the league explanation for the Nash goal was complete and utter nonsense. This is a situation where the NHL needs to come forward and issue a public apology to the Habs. Anything short of that just sends the message that the league is fine and dandy with the mockery that was their officiating and review panel last night. I'm sure they are fine with it (extraordinarily comfortable, as they usually are when it comes to ruling against us), but Bettman need look no further than this to figure out why he's a joke of a commissioner and why all fans hate him.

I just wish our coach would show a little more public passion and spirit behind the bench, sticking up for the players over these humiliating and unfair circumstances being leveled against us by the officials. 

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2 hours ago, Habs=stanleycup said:

I just wish our coach would show a little more public passion and spirit behind the bench, sticking up for the players over these humiliating and unfair circumstances being leveled against us by the officials. 

To be fair,,,,i think he's a lot more animated then Martin was. He's had his moments where he's expressed himself pretty forcefully. You don't want to make the situation worse by taking a bench minor and putting yourself down 2 men in a tight game.

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4 hours ago, H_T_L said:

To be fair,,,,i think he's a lot more animated then Martin was. He's had his moments where he's expressed himself pretty forcefully. You don't want to make the situation worse by taking a bench minor and putting yourself down 2 men in a tight game.

I agree he's the coach he needs to stay calm and focused. The team is going to be upset as it is. He can question the call but getting all Patrick Roy is only going to get the officials against you more and you still have the game to play. He needs to be able to settle the bench down and say lets move on and keep playing.

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6 hours ago, H_T_L said:

To be fair,,,,i think he's a lot more animated then Martin was. He's had his moments where he's expressed himself pretty forcefully. You don't want to make the situation worse by taking a bench minor and putting yourself down 2 men in a tight game.

True, but, at some point you need to take a stand. 

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2 minutes ago, Regis22 said:

Toronto & Ottawa are 10 pts back with 4 games in hand each

Our entire division is awful. Toronto is young and inexperienced. Ottawa is a middle-of-the-pack team. Boston is thinking of firing its coach for the 10th time in the past calendar year. Detroit and Buffalo are bottom-feeders. Florida has already made a coaching change. Tampa has struggled to deal with injuries. There really isn't anyone who poses a huge threat to winning the division right now. So even though those teams have games in hand, there is zero reason either should catch us if we play well. If we allow one of those clubs to pass us, it will be because we played poorly ourselves, not because one of those teams played dominant hockey.

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1 minute ago, BigTed3 said:

Our entire division is awful. Toronto is young and inexperienced. Ottawa is a middle-of-the-pack team. Boston is thinking of firing its coach for the 10th time in the past calendar year. Detroit and Buffalo are bottom-feeders. Florida has already made a coaching change. Tampa has struggled to deal with injuries. There really isn't anyone who poses a huge threat to winning the division right now. So even though those teams have games in hand, there is zero reason either should catch us if we play well. If we allow one of those clubs to pass us, it will be because we played poorly ourselves, not because one of those teams played dominant hockey.

Which we have shown we are quite capable of doing.

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37 minutes ago, habs1952 said:

Which we have shown we are quite capable of doing.

Sure, but what I'm saying is that this isn't the Metro or Central division, where there are 3-4 teams capable of winning the division and whereby playing well might not be enough. In our case, if we play well, we should have no issue winning the division with the leg up we already have. It's on us.

 

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On the TVA telecast tonight, they actually brought up that Danault had played well and was challenging Galchenyuk for being the top center on the team and that he deserved to be the #1 center for the moment... sure Danault has played well, but Galchenyuk was a top 5 scorer in the league before his injury. It'll take him a bit of time to get back up to speed, but he's continuing to play well and Danault is not even close to being in the same class of player as Galchenyuk. It's this type of mentality that handicaps teams and skews views of players. There is no way that anyone should believe Danault is a better player or even a comparable player to Galchenyuk. It's ludicrous that someone can be on television and considered an expert and have that opinion.

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45 minutes ago, BigTed3 said:

On the TVA telecast tonight, they actually brought up that Danault had played well and was challenging Galchenyuk for being the top center on the team and that he deserved to be the #1 center for the moment... sure Danault has played well, but Galchenyuk was a top 5 scorer in the league before his injury. It'll take him a bit of time to get back up to speed, but he's continuing to play well and Danault is not even close to being in the same class of player as Galchenyuk. It's this type of mentality that handicaps teams and skews views of players. There is no way that anyone should believe Danault is a better player or even a comparable player to Galchenyuk. It's ludicrous that someone can be on television and considered an expert and have that opinion.

That's so ridiculous, it's hard to take seriously.

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Is anyone else concerned that the Habs have been playing 500 hockey since the Columbus shellacking over 2 months ago? Granted we are still in the running, but for how long?

You can't blame it on injuries as they have played like that before the injuries bug hit. Price is a regular NHL goalie, not the "Best goalie in the world", but no one can play like that all the time, so they can not count on him all the time to bring the club back from a potential loss.

The team is in 6th place in goals for and 9th place in goals against. These numbers while not that bad on the surface, if you look deeper, it is concerning. The team seems to score in bunches. one game they will score 5 or 6 and the next game only 1 or 2 goals. This is not consistent enough to win more games. Also goals against is the worst than it has been in a long time.

Since the Columbus game, the Habs have 111 goals for and 109 goals against. How can a team win with goal numbers like this?

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The team seems out of sinc lately. We play well and get average to poor goaltending. We get great goaltending and can't seem to buy a goal or play a real stinker. If we can somehow find some middle ground and get everybody on the same page, i believe we turn this around. I suppose it's better to be slumping now then in March. Playing around 500 hockey is not the best scenario  but there's still a lot of time to get the bus moving again. Schedule has been heavy, so hopefully this upcoming All Star break helps us get it back on track 

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I'm going to speculate that Monty get's the start Tuesday vs the Sabres, even though it's a home game. They have the perfect excuse for resting Price after the all star weekend,,, even though he pretty much did the equivalent work of a practice.

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