Montreal’s impressive postseason run has come
to a disappointing end after falling in six to the Rangers. Goaltending
was a plus for the Habs in these playoffs so it’s no surprise that the goalies
are at the top of the class in the first half of our grades. There seems
to be a lot of expectations for some major changes to happen in the offseason,
my Final Thought discusses why this likely won’t happen.
Rather than doing a final Cheers and Jeers
segment, I’m going to kick off the postseason grades instead. Defencemen
and goalies will be covered here while the forwards will appear in a separate
article next week. Players must have played at least four games to receive
Carey Price: A:
Before going down with a lower body
injury in Game 1 against the Rangers, Price was well on his way to proving his
doubters wrong with regards to his postseason performances. There weren’t
many games that he stole but you can’t make a case that he cost them a game
either. He was steady and in the postseason, consistent strong goaltending
is what good teams need. Price provided just that in these playoffs.
Dustin Tokarski: A: He was thrown into a
tough situation and made the most of it, playing well in four of his five
starts. When Tokarski signed his new deal a few weeks back, it was largely
assumed he’d go back to Hamilton next season. Given how he played in the
playoffs coupled with the fact he has to clear waivers to go back there, it’s
far from a guarantee he’d back it down there if they tried to send him down.
Peter Budaj: N/A
P.K. Subban: B+: For the first couple of
rounds, he was not only Montreal’s best blueliner but also their best skater in
general. That changed in the New York series. Subban reverted back
to ‘one against the world’ mode too often while also tiring from playing as many
minutes as he did. Despite the so-so ending though, he had a solid
Mike Weaver: B: Although he was brought
in to be a depth player, Weaver wound up playing a pretty important role for the
Habs. Rarely did he try to do too much and made the simple and smart play
regularly. I don’t think the team could have expected any more from him in
Andrei Markov: B-: The biggest surprise
for me with Markov was that the usually steady defenceman was wildly
inconsistent both offensively and defensively. In some games, he was
absolutely fantastic. In others, he was running around in his own end and
making uncharacteristically poor decisions with and without the puck. Like
Subban, it was obvious that he was running on fumes at the end of the New York
Josh Gorges: B-: The playoffs are the
time where a player like him can really shine with the extra attention being
paid to doing the little things. In that sense, I’m not sure Gorges rose
to the occasion. He was his typical regular season self but there didn’t
seem to be that little something extra as the intensity picked up.
Francis Bouillon: C+: Bouillon had a
couple of notable blunders along the way but he also made up for them with a
couple of particularly important goals. He noted during Saturday’s clean
out day that he wants to play next year. I don’t think this postseason
hurt his chances of picking up a deal to be a 7th D somewhere. I’m not
sure that somewhere is Montreal, however.
Nathan Beaulieu: C: He started off well
but really struggled in his last few games. I know I’m in the minority
here but he’s not ready to be a full-time NHL’er yet (I felt the same with
Jarred Tinordi after the 2013 playoffs too). The Habs will need to find a
way to integrate Beaulieu more into their lineup next season but some stints in
Hamilton along the way certainly would be beneficial.
Alexei Emelin: C-: He stepped up at
times in the Boston series but beyond that, his lack of mobility really proved
to be problematic for the Habs. He, like Markov (his partner), also was
plagued by some particularly inopportune defensive zone miscues. In the
exit interviews, I certainly hope that Emelin was told to seriously work on his
skating for next season. For him to become a legitimate top-four
defenceman, that must improve.
Douglas Murray: N/A
Goals: Rene Bourque
Assists: Markov/Subban (9)
Points: P.K. Subban (14)
+/-: Mike Weaver (+8)
PIMS: Brandon Prust (32)
Shots: Max Pacioretty (55)
In the aftermath of the Game 6 loss to New
York, talk has shifted towards what to do with the team for next season.
One of the common themes thus far revolves around a particularly high amount of
veteran turnover. Expectations are for an overhauled team when it’s much
more likely that the exact opposite happens.
Usually when teams get as close as Montreal did
this year, they usually tweak instead of making major roster changes. GM
Marc Bergevin has also indicated in the past that he’s not going to rush to put
this team together which also doesn’t bode well for those hoping for big moves.
That isn’t to say that perhaps one move of note
gets made where a veteran player gets moved out. Expecting three or more
of those trades is unrealistic; even rebuilding teams typically don’t shake up
their core to that type of extent in a single offseason.
Will the 2014-15 version of the Habs be
different? Sure, there’s always a little bit of turnover. But as we
saw last year, don’t be surprised if most of the core of this team is back for