Talk to the old guard, the ones who’ve been around the Bell Centre long enough to see the Habs in every imaginable form, and they’ll give it to you straight: Montreal’s preseason tells a tale as unpredictable as the snowdrifts building on NDG’s rooftops. Remember Jan Bulis and his preseason theatrics? Seems like eons ago. And then there’s that radio voice droning on about the last time the Habs had a preseason victory – rambling about a time when Joe Juneau laced up for the team.
But here we are, another training camp, another series of raised eyebrows as power play missteps unfold and unknowns make the anticipated stars appear more like falling meteors. Case in point: Matthew Knies, who looked like a seasoned vet dancing around the Canadiens’ most promising defensive talents.
Yet, amidst this mélange, three strands have caught my seasoned eye, suggesting that perhaps, just maybe, the Habs are on the brink of something unique:
1. Kirby Dach: The Enigma Rising
The Chicago trade winds last year brought Kirby Dach into the fold, and with him, a bundle of questions. Centre? Winger? Or perhaps, an evolving project? This preseason, the lad seems to have found his compass. With newfound poise at centre, Dach’s performance has had the locker room buzzing. The summer seems to have done wonders, sharpening his focus. The hand of shooting coach Tim Turk is evident in every flick and spin. Brendan Gallagher once mused, “The worst word is potential.” Well, for Dach, potential might just be translating into prowess.
2. William Trudeau: A Study in Patience and Promise
Montreal’s defensive ranks, teeming with young blood, all seem ready for the limelight, or so the eternal optimists would have you believe. Enter William Trudeau, who’s carved a space for himself this preseason, surprising many a naysayer. The storied Ken Holland Detroit Red Wings’ philosophy of letting prospects simmer in the minors comes to mind. Cultivating confidence away from the glaring NHL lights has its merits, as history has shown. Here’s to hoping Montreal’s decision-makers heed this tried and tested wisdom.
3. The Netminder’s Tale: Promise and Pressure
Jakub Dobes has been turning heads between the pipes, but it’s Cayden Primeau who offers a conundrum. His story is familiar to the Canadiens’ faithful — a promising star, once touted as the next Carey Price, now grappling with the weight of expectation. But training camp offers redemption. Even with the looming shadow of waivers, Primeau’s potential is undeniable. And while Martin St. Louis helms the ship, whispers suggest that the guiding hand behind the goalies might be mental performance coach Jean Francois Menard. With Vincent Lecavalier in the mix, offering insights from his years leaning on Tampa’s mental conditioning gurus, there’s hope yet for Primeau. Sometimes, all it takes is the right mentor and a dash of patience.
Through the ups and downs, the Canadiens’ preseason paints a picture of a team in flux, yet brimming with potential. As the season inches closer, one can’t help but feel that something transformative is on the horizon. Only time, as they say, will tell.
Good Bagels: Martin St. Louis’ pressers this week
Green Bagels: The Habs’ power play