It wasn’t the end many fans hoped for or expected but the postseason came to
a premature end for the Habs this past week as they lost a pair of games to
Ottawa to lose their Eastern Conference quarterfinal in five. Despite the
disappointing finish, there are reasons to be excited about this team moving
forward, which is the focus of my Final Thought, the last one of the 2012-13
1) Jeff Halpern and Gabriel Dumont, whose play
in the two games this past week should give the management and coaching staff
something to think about. Halpern is getting up there in age but showed he
still has something left in the tank while being a faceoff specialist while
Dumont’s feistiness and prowess at the dot proved to be beneficial for the Habs
in both games.
2) Brandon Prust and the injury brigade for
attempting to play through their various ailments. As much as it’s easy to
say that if they’re not healthy then they shouldn’t play, there were simply too
many players banged up to sit them all at once. Prust in particular
deserves commendation for going above and beyond to try to stay in Game 4 by
popping a rib back in between periods.
3) The start of Game 5. Given the tough
way that Montreal blew Game 4, I don’t think it wouldn’t have been entirely
surprising had the Canadiens came out despondent and dejected. Instead,
they started the game the way they came out in every other contest, full of
effort and aggression which is what they did for most of the year.
1) Michael Ryder, for finding a way to be
nearly invisible for five straight postseason games. He pretty much sealed
his fate in that he won’t be back next season and a subpar playoff performance
certainly won’t help him in terms of contract talks in July.
2) I hate to do this as he played very well
during the season, but Peter Budaj. I’ll give him a bit of a pass for the
OT winner given that he came in cold but his Game 5 effort was reminiscent of
his first couple of starts where he more or less fought the puck all night.
That’s a tough way to end an otherwise quality season.
3) The penalty kill, which ended the regular
season badly and the postseason even worse. The Habs allowed six goals on
their last 19 shorthanded opportunities, giving them a PK success rate of just
over 68%. That’s terrible and there’s no way to sugar coat it.
Assists: Tomas Plekanec (4)
Points: Plekanec/Subban (4)
+/-: Desharnais/Halpern (+1)
PIMS: P.K. Subban (31) (League leader)
Shots: Brendan Gallagher (22)
– Montreal took a step towards shoring up their
very weak goaltending depth with the
signing of Mike
Condon to a two year, entry level deal. Condon spent the past four seasons
at Princeton before turning pro in March. The 23 year old is expected to
be in the mix for the backup goalie job in Hamilton next season.
– Another goalie that may be in the mix
in Hamilton in 2013-14 is Robert Mayer. Although he already has a two year
deal in place to play in the Swiss league next year, there are
he may be looking to stay in North America next year and that the Habs have
already made him a contract offer for next season.
(Please note that the link is in German.)
– The 2013 Memorial Cup gets underway this
coming Friday in Saskatoon. The Habs will have a pair of prospects
participating in the tournament in blueliners Dalton Thrower and Darren Dietz.
It will be Dietz’s final games with the Blades as he has already signed for next
year. Thrower can turn pro as well but has not yet inked a deal.
– Between now and June 1st, there are three
prospects who need to be signed by Montreal or they will lose their rights:
Olivier Archambault, Magnus Nygren, and Daniel Pribyl. Of the three, the
Habs have already been in contact with Nygren.
– May 12th is a special day for us at HabsWorld.
On that day ten years ago, the
HW Forums were launched. The website will celebrate its tenth year
closer to the beginning of next season.
Although the end of the season was quite a
downer, there is a lot to look forward to for Montreal fans. We’ve long
talked about the young cores of the past that were supposed to lead this team to
brighter days. Players like Mike Ribeiro, Chris Higgins, and Mike
Komisarek were supposed to be long-term staples of the future that didn’t pan
out. Now, there is a new young core group and as we saw this year, it’s a
pretty good one.
To be considered a long-term building block, I
feel a player should be 25 or younger. That way, they have a few years of
team control left so the team isn’t faced with a ‘one and done’ scenario where
their window of opportunity is just one year. Here is a look at the
regulars from this seasons’ lineup aged 25 or younger that could be considered
as part of the core group:
G: Carey Price
D: P.K. Subban
F: Lars Eller, Alex Galchenyuk, Brendan Gallagher, Max Pacioretty
On top of that, there still are several quality
prospects in the system (such as Beaulieu, Kristo, Collberg, and Tinordi) with
several more to come in next month’s draft class. Presuming that some of
those picks and prospects pan out, you’ve got the makings of a quality core
group of 8-10 players that will be either signed or under team control for a few
more seasons. That’s a pretty good spot to be in moving forward and one we
as fans should be excited about.
With the Habs’ season now finished, this will
be the final HW Recap for the 2012-13 campaign. However, in the coming
days and weeks, the grades which were once a staple of this column will return
to reflect on Montreal’s and Hamilton’s seasons as a whole.
If you have any questions/comments, please feel
free to drop me a line at [email protected]