The Montreal Canadiens are a storied franchise. 24 Stanley Cups, which no other NHL franchise can boast. Unfortunately there has been no Stanley Cup since 1993. Sadly, that was the last time a Canadian team has won the cup.
This current Habs, which they are often referred too, has surpassed expectations in this shortened season. I will be honest, they have over achieved. If you don’t agree, you’re not being realistic. Let’s start with the stud in nets. Carey Price, who is only 25, has not even hit his stride yet! Goalies get better with age, well the greats do anyways. Price is not Patrick Roy. NO ONE is Patrick Roy. There isn’t an Ed Belfour. Heck even Martin Brodeur isn’t Brodeur anymore. Let’s face it; Montreal is a pressure packed city to play in. No other organization has fans who chew you out after a pre-season game. When you are drafted and compared to legendary goalies like Ken Dryden and Patrick Roy, the expectations are unrealistic. With his cool and calm demeanor, Price has stuck to being himself. Want to start comparing him to other goalies in the league? What has Cam Ward done since winning the cup? Tim Thomas was brutal for as many years as he was good. How old is he by the way? Antti Niemi… Do we even have to mention how stacked that Chicago team was? So how is he playing for Chicago now? Oh that’s right, he doesn’t! Miikka Kiprusoff, Ryan Miller and Henrik Lundqvist all have how many Stanley Cups? If you have watched NHL hockey the last 5 – 8 years you know these three have been top goalies consistently. If anyone has called for their heads, you must be heavy on the booze. I cannot fathom that Flames, Sabres and Ranger fans complain about their goalies. They have been brilliant and it hasn’t been enough. Let’s put it this way, 29 other teams would love to have Carey Price.
No offense to Andrei Markov and Josh Gorges, but P.K. Subban is the Canadiens best defenseman. He is only 23! This being only his third full season, sort of. Is he the best defender in the league? Well he is this season. When I say he does it all, I mean he can play both ends very well. Add in Jarred Tinordi who is 21 and Nathan Beaulieu is 20, well this is an extremely bright defense corps. Let’s add Alexei Emelin, who is 26, and you have a good top 4.
Well, if you’re excited about the defense, you’ll drool over the forwards. Alex Galchenyuk, 19, and Brendan Gallagher, 20, are just wow. These two have the makings to be a top line. While I think Tomas Plekanec has been and is the best center this team has, he is 30 and has reached his prime. Lars Eller at 23 and Max Pacioretty who is 24 make for a good second line. I am not brushing David Desharnais aside, and I believe he is a good hockey player. He is 26 and while he doesn’t play scared, he just isn’t tough. Size isn’t on his side either. Same could be said for Gallagher, but ask his opponents if that matters.
As a Habs fan and I have been since the late 80s, I have seen a lot. What I have not seen is this much potential. Last year they finished dead last in the east. This year 1st in the conference is a possibility. While that is great, I am not getting ahead of myself. There is no such thing as a quick fix. You cannot replace playoff experience, so this is a bonus. You know it will take another year or two and this team should be a top team for years to come. If you want something quick and cheap, go to McDonalds. If you are like me, you want something good that takes time. Cook at home. Ask the New York Rangers how many times they went for a quick fix? Looks like Detroit made meals from home and produced talent which led to Stanley Cups. One can argue that the Edmonton Oilers are attempting to build from the draft with no success. It’s still early but two things stick out. First, they haven’t drafted a goalie. You can say in today’s game you do not need a top tier goalie to win. Which brings me to my other point; they haven’t drafted a defenseman either. So unless you have a good defense corps, goaltending matters. Of course anyone can be a diamond in the rough. Anyone can be a flash in the pan. Good things take time, and are worth the wait. Surely no one can argue that. Well I bet there will be people who will. Pipe down and have your fast food you fat pig! Age is just a number and I get that. Athletes are still human. Mistakes are made. Yes they are professionals, but that just means they are better than the average Joe. This is a young core, believe it or not. It is a different generation and with that comes a longer maturation process. Just the way it is.
So I say to Habs fans across the globe, chill out. Enjoy the season, and hope for the best. A win is a win. A loss is a loss. Take it in stride. The near future looks bright, and that’s something we haven’t had in ages.
(photo not my own)